Here’s a story which makes us excited to be part of an industry which is leading the way into the future and shows there’s far more to ‘games’ than most people would credit…
Guerilla Tea is a development studio based in Dundee. The company has worked on a number of altruistic projects in the recent past, most recently running a workshop and releasing a game designed by a group of autistic teenagers. Now the company has raised the stakes in the serious gaming sector, with a new project which could conceivably change the world.
Cancer Research UK, the cancer fighting charity, has signed a deal with Guerilla Tea allowing the studio to design and develop a game, initially entitled GeneGame, which will allow phone users to play with Cancer Research UK’s gene data, with a view to finding innovative new ways to cure the disease.
Cancer Research UK worked with Channel 4’s commissioning editor for video games, Colin MacDonald, to find and appoint a game developer they could work with on the project.
Gene Game is the charity’s second project which harnesses the power of the public to help sort and sift the huge amounts of data (petabytes according to Cancer Research UK) required to find new targeted approaches to treating cancer. The first game, Cell Slider has already analysed 1629317 images, doing in three months, what would normally take scientists 18 months.
Guerilla Tea will be working with some of the formats and projects created at the Cancer Research UK Game Jam, which the charity organised in March 2013.
GameJam event in March 2013. The event brought together the charity’s world-leading scientists alongside over fifty hackers – programmers, gamers, graphic designers and other specialists from Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Google and games technology academics from City University London and Omnisoft.
Amy Carton, citizen science lead for Cancer Research UK, said:
We were very impressed by the initial format produced by Guerilla Tea and we’re excited about seeing the final result. 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. 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.
Mark Hastings, CEO of Guerilla Tea, told us:
We’re absolutely delighted to have been selected by Cancer Research UK for this project. 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.
Dr Joanna Reynolds, director of science information, Cancer Research UK, added:
Over 200,000 people have already visited our CellSlider site, from over 100 countries, making more than 1.6 million classifications. In just three months, citizen scientists had analysed data that would typically take our scientists 18 months to do and early indications of the accuracy are promising. With GeneGame we are being bolder, braver and bigger and we hope that by the end of the year we’ll have a game that not only is fun to play but will play a crucial role in developing new cancer cures sooner – ultimately saving lives.
Despite the huge cultural impact, economic contribution to the global economy, the diversity of experience and enormous popularity of games, they are still sometimes neglected or overlooked as having any real contribution to make to world.
This is a huge step forward for the games sector and shows the whole world that interactive experiences have a huge amount to offer and are fundamentally changing every aspect of society – for the good.
Congratulations and praise to the whole Guerilla Tea team on a well-deserved and hugely important new project.
You guys rock…
Gene Game is due for release in the UK later this year.
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