Like most people, I enjoy video games and hate cancer, but seldom does the opportunity arise to combine those two feelings. Thankfully, Play to Cure: Genes in Space has flown onto our galactic radar, bringing with it simple space combat that actually helps the cause of cancer research. Yes. You get to help cancer research and blow things up at the same time.
The iOS app is the brainchild of Cancer Research UK, and is the product of months of collaboration between scientists and game developers. On its face, Play to Cure is a simple space shooter where players zoom around the galaxy shooting asteroids and navigating through a series of rings. Players chart their own path through the galaxy by plotting the best route through the provided maps.
Here's where the game becomes genius. The maps are actually real DNA microarrays. While you're plotting your next route, the game is actually using your map to spot patterns in the genetic information of thousands of tumors. The more you play, the more information it crunches. Here's what Microarray data looks like.
But when you're playing it will look like this.
With each passing level, you gain experience points that can be used to customize your ship and buy new weapons and upgrades. The game plays better with the gyroscopic control option than it does with the touch screen, but either one works. Levels usually only last about a minute, so this is the perfect way to pass time and make the world a better place while you do it. You can check out the launch video below, or head over to Cancer Research UK to read more.
Play to Cure: Genes in Space is available as a free download right now in the App Store.