Cancer Research UK and Dundee based developer Guerilla Tea have joined forces to create GeneGame, a mobile title that will allow gamers to analyse gene data and contribute to the fight against cancer.
"We're absolutely delighted to have been selected by Cancer Research UK for this project," said Guerilla Tea CEO Mark Hastings.
"We've always believed games technology has the potential to provide huge benefits to other sectors and this project will be a wonderful example of that. We're very excited to get started and through our work look forward to helping speed up discoveries that one day might lead to new cancer treatments."
In March Cancer Research UK held a gamejam in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google, where academics, scientists, gamers and designers created 12 gaming prototypes based on the needs of the charity's gene research. GeneGame will build on those foundations, and is due to be completed later this year.
Gamers are a useful resource for this particular brand of research, as the "terabytes upon petabytes" of data created can only be accurately analysed by the human eye. Utilising gamer's free time is an effective way of speeding up that process.
"We're right at the start of a world-first initiative that will result in a game that we hope hundreds of thousands of people across the globe will want to play over and over again and, at the same time, generate robust scientific data analysis," added Amy Carton, citizen science lead for Cancer Research UK.
"Combining complicated cancer research data and gaming technology in this way has never been done before and it's certainly no mean feat but we're working with the best scientific and technology brains in the business, we're ready for the challenge and believe the results will have global impact and speed up research."
This isn't the first time gamers have been given the chance to contribute to scientific research. In 2000 a programme called Folding@home launched which used people's home computers and PlayStation 3 consoles to to carry out molecular dynamics research. During its lifetime the PlayStation version of the programme had a huge impact, with 15 million users contributing more than 100 million hours of computation to Folding@home