The Microsetta Initiative at UC San Diego School of Medicine, McGill University, Massively Multiplayer Online Science, Gearbox, and 2K have teamed up to create a clever way for players of Borderlands 3 to help map the human gut microbiome.
Players do this creative gut-mapping by accessing the special Borderlands Science game-within-the-game. The mini-game works as follows:
Borderlands Science encodes the DNA of each gut microbe as a string of bricks of four different shapes and colors. Players connect those colored shapes to help scientists estimate the similarity between each microbe. The more puzzles players solve, the more they help decode the human gut microbiome, all while earning rewards that can be used within Borderlands 3.
Basically what players are actually doing is helping to find errors in the computer analysis of gut biome DNA that's been extracted from human poop. Doing this by playing a simple puzzle game can save scientists hundreds of thousands of hours trying to get computers to do this work.
Here's Dr. Mayim Bialik breaking it down:
Learn more at the Borderlands Science site.
[H/t Tino Dai]