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Op Ed

What Games Are - Formalists and Zinesters- Why Formalism Is Not The Enemy. Thanks The Indie Mine.
What you will also find, however, is people who have been around the gaming block a few times. People who have seen this struggle over "what is a game" happen before. People for whom the idea of a game that uses permadeath to make a point is not startlingly original. People for whom the cleverness of character reversal and the notion of play as self-loathing, or games that demand to not be played, are ideas that they've seen before. People for whom the debate has little or nothing to do with their own sense of power and everything to do with trying to get to a better understanding. People to whom zinesters seem intent on repeating a very old mistake.

Gamasutra: Michael Kelley's Blog - The Evolution and Rediscovery of Play in America.
And now for my favorite example of gamification vs. no gamification; Stanford released a program in 2000 called Foldit@Home. It was a screensaver-slash-distributed-computing-network and how it worked was that when your computer's screensaver activated as a result of user inactivity, it downloaded a protein structure and started folding it and reported the results back to Stanford. It visually demonstrated the folding, it was brilliant, it remains today one of the largest, fastest computational systems in the world, and, as far as I know, in over a decade it has accomplished very little.

Now, in stark contrast, the University of Washington's Center for Game Science in collaboration w/ the University's Department of Biochemistry, developed an online puzzle video game about protein folding. A “score” is calculated according to how well-folded the protein is and boasts a very competitive leader board. Foldit's community of players helped to decipher the crystal structure of the Mason-Pfizer AIDS virus. American play accomplished in ten days a solution that stumped scientists for 15 years. Surely that was a fluke though, right? Well, a few months later the community re-engineered an enzyme that catalyzes the Diels-Alder reactions. Their re-engineered enzyme increased reactivity 18 fold.

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