Collaborative research through gaming or gamification is currently undergoing a resurgence in both science and business. Many companies that gamify their training and marketing research get great results from the improved engagement of employees, clients and other business partners. Some companies reach beyond training with their “gaming” theories and are seeking collaboration with the community to devise solutions for as-yet unsolved challenges. Solving these challenges provides insight and confidence when enterprise decision-making is required.

Collaborative Research Through Gamification

A truly remarkable example of gamification as a collaboration tool is Foldit, a science company harnessing the energy of gamers around the globe to solve complex biological protein puzzles. In pharmacology, medicinal drugs are selected based on how they are expected to interact with a known disease protein. When the structure of the protein is unknown, it is impossible to predict which drugs might be useful in the condition with which it is related.

Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play “Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins,” the company explains on its website. “Since proteins are part of so many diseases, they can also be part of the cure. Players can design brand new proteins that could help prevent or treat important diseases.”

The most breathtaking development with Foldit’s puzzle strategy involved identification of the structure of an AIDS protein enzyme. Science had long known that a particular enzyme was part of the reproduction cycle of the AIDS virus in the body. The structure of the enzyme, however, was a mystery so they could not identify the specific drugs that would attack it. Enter the gamification.

Three weeks after gamers were introduced to the puzzle, their strategies revealed to researchers what turned out to be the correct enzyme shape. The scientists were then able to identify drugs that could be useful in neutralizing the enzyme. The collaborative research between scientists and game players should end up saving lives. As a side note for teen and younger game players, the Foldit players were honored as co-authors with the research scientists in the 2011 paper that was published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The same effectiveness of gamification can be applied to your marketing research when it comes to determining unknown variables and enterprise planning. The marketing research professionals at New Perspectives can help you design a gamification marketing research plan for your next product launch or to reach more challenging target audiences. Gamification and collaborative research can play an integral part of your strategic decision-making process. To learn more about how you can employ gamification and collaborative research across your enterprise, contact the marketing research consulting professionals at New Perspectives.