April 15, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 8)
Strong Points: Fun, interactive gameplay
Weak Points: None
How often have we heard that video and computer games are eating away at the minds of youths today? Well here is one example of a computer game that most definitely does not fall into that category! With the tagline of “solve puzzles for science”, this game was most recently in the news a few months back when gamers solved the protein structure of a retroviral protease necessary for HIV replication. That’s right, folks—this is a game where the object is to find the “best” (i.e., most energetically favorable) conformation for real-life proteins. Players’ scores increase when the structure becomes more favorable, and decrease when the structure is less favorable. With sound effects and colorful graphics, this definitely feels like a game, rather than rigorous scientific work. And boy is it addictive! The downloadable game is available across Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, and players can choose to play online or offline.