Reverse The Odds is a mobile game released as part of this year’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign. The free puzzle adventure game, which works on tablets and smartphones, turns each player into a volunteer whose gaming skills are helping scientists with large scale data analysis to help beat cancer sooner.
The game offers over 350 levels, and features the Odds, “a collection of unique colourful little characters who need your help to return their world to life”.
Players examine patterns within cancer cell slides and identify aspects such as the number of cells or the colour of cells. The more they identify, the higher the levels they can reach and the greater the rewards. As they revitalise the desolate wasteland of the Odds, they are interpreting more and more data and saving cancer scientists time.
Players should not worry about getting their analysis of slides wrong. The same data is being used and played with by many other players around the world: “no single person’s diagnosis or treatment is affected by your actions”, Cancer Research UK assures them.
Reverse the Odds has been designed for people to play whether they have a few minutes waiting for the bus, or whether they want to spend several hours at it.
You can download Reverse The Odds from Google Play, Amazon or the Apple App Store.
It is the latest in a long-line of citizen science initiatives in which individuals volunteer their time and skills, and sometimes donate their spare PC processing power (more commonly referred to as distributed computing), to help interpret large volumes of big data in bite-sized portions. Initiatives include Seti @home, Zooniverse, Galaxy Zoo, Folding @home, and Charity Engine.
CRUK and citizen science
Cancer Research UK has been active in citizen science initiatives over the past few years. It launched its first mobile game Genes in Space in February this year, which was developed from the charity’s GameJam event in March 2013.
Its first citizen science project was Cell Slider, which it launched in October 2012 with Zooniverse to encourage the public to classify archived breast cancer samples.
Although these citizen science initiatives don’t seek donations, they do encourage people to volunteer their time and skills.
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