EVE Online players are once again being given an opportunity to do real-world science from the comfort of their spaceships. Today marks the launch of the third time EVE’s Project Discovery mini-game has been re-imagined. Project Discovery is an in-game tool that enables EVE players to serve as citizen scientists. In the past they’ve helped map out proteins for the Human Protein Atlas and searched the stars for unidentified exoplanets. Now, players can put their collective efforts toward solving the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through Project Discovery, players are given datasets and asked to analyse and catalogue flow cytometers. According to the Project Discovery press release, “Flow cytometry is a technique used to detect and measure physical and chemical characteristics of cells, especially those of the immune system that are important in the body’s response to infection with SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.” Players analyse the data by selecting groupings of cells in slide data. Players don’t need to have any special knowledge going in; the mini-game teaches you all you need to know.
By analysing and helping to catalogue this data, EVE players will be actively helping scientists, doctors and clinicians on the front line of the fight against COVID-19. EVE Online is able to offer this opportunity via their partnership with the Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS) organisation, who provide help to facilitate connections to scientists and universities that have data sets in need of analysis.
The new Project Discovery mini-game was implemented into the game today, and players around the world are already using it to trace groups of cell populations in the samples provided. If fighting against one of the most historic and monumental events of our collective lifetimes wasn’t reward enough, players also earn unique cosmetics and some of the most rare and valuable ships in the game.
CCP Games will also be hosting a special Twitch stream this week to celebrate the launch of the third phase of Project Discovery, alongside their partners at MMOS on the CCP Twitch channel. Due to technical difficulties with Twitch.tv, the stream was supposed to be today, but had to be rescheduled to a date later this week.
Project Discovery remains one of the most innovative ways for gamers to give back to the world at large while playing the games they love. As long as players remain inquisitive and engaged in the scientific process, there will always be more data for them to quantify and analyse.