Today, interactive entertainment companies Gearbox Software and 2K launched Borderlands Science, an interactive game within the critically acclaimed Borderlands 3 that invites players to map the human gut microbiome to advance vital medical studies while earning in-game rewards. This major initiative is the result of international partnerships with researchers and scientists at McGill University, Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), and The Microsetta Initiative at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Emmy-nominated Big Bang Theory star and scientist Dr. Mayim Bialik lent her voice to the project, helping guide players on their journey.
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Today, interactive entertainment companies Gearbox Software and 2K launched Borderlands Science, an interactive game within the critically acclaimed Borderlands 3 that invites players to map the human gut microbiome to advance vital medical studies while earning in-game rewards. (Graphic: Business Wire)
“We see Borderlands Science as an opportunity to use the enormous popularity of Borderlands 3 to advance social good,” said Gearbox Software co-founder Randy Pitchford. “Borderlands Science is the vanguard of a new nexus between entertainment and health: an innovative game-within-the-game, complete with scores, progression and rewards, where your playtime actually generates tangible data that will be applied toward improving research, helping cure diseases, and contributing to the broader medical community.”
Trillions of microbes inhabit the human body – some of which may be associated with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, allergies, and more. Mapping these microbes will help scientists better understand them and provide an important foundation for future microbiome studies that may lead to more sensitive diagnostics and personalized treatments. However, because of the number of microbes, computers struggle to relate them, which makes mapping the gut nearly impossible.
This is where Borderlands Science, a mini-video game within Borderlands 3, comes in. Leveraging the massive breadth of the video gaming community, the project crowdsources players’ skills and applies them to mapping the human gut biome, saving medical researchers hundreds of thousands of hours in training computers to do the same.
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 in Borderlands 3. A brief video featuring Dr. Bialik explaining Borderlands Science can be found here.
“We are always looking for new partners in the field of gaming, and this is a perfect fit for us,” said MMOS CEO and co-founder Attila Szantner. “We created MMOS to connect scientific research and video games as a seamless gaming experience, and that is exactly what this has become. I believe that Borderlands 3 players advancing microbiome research will change how we think about video games.”
“It was a simple choice to join Gearbox and its partners in making Borderlands Science a reality,” said McGill University professor Jérôme Waldispühl. “Working to help align the gaming community with the biomedical field allows these two passionate groups to work together toward a result that we might not realize without the collaborative effort.”
2K is a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO).
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About Gearbox Software
Gearbox Software is a Frisco, Texas-based award-winning, independent developer of interactive entertainment. It was founded in 1999 by game industry veterans, and its first release was Half-Life: Opposing Force. Since then, the company has become known for successful game franchises including Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, and Battleborn, as well as acquired properties Duke Nukem and Homeworld. For more information, visit www.gearboxsoftware.com.
About Take-Two Interactive Software
Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. We develop and publish products through our labels Rockstar Games, 2K, and Private Division, as well as Social Point, a leading developer of mobile games. Our products are designed for console systems and personal computers, including smartphones and tablets, and are delivered through physical retail, digital download, online platforms and cloud streaming services. The Company’s common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at http://www.take2games.com.
Founded in 2005, 2K develops and publishes global interactive entertainment for console and handheld gaming systems, personal computers and mobile devices, with product availability including physical retail and digital download. The Company is home to many talented development studios, including Visual Concepts, Firaxis Games, Hangar 13, Cat Daddy Games, 31st Union and Cloud Chamber. 2K’s portfolio currently includes the renowned BioShock®, Borderlands™, Mafia and XCOM® franchises; NBA® 2K, the global phenomenon and highest rated* annual sports title for the current console generation; the critically acclaimed Sid Meier’s Civilization® series; the popular WWE® 2K and WWE® SuperCard franchises, as well as emerging properties NBA® 2K Playgrounds 2, Carnival Games and more. Additional information about 2K and its products may be found at 2k.com.
* According to 2008 – 2020 Metacritic.com
About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.
MMOS (Massively Multiplayer Online Science) is a Swiss start-up focusing on bringing citizen science activities to AAA videogames; setting up collaborations and providing the necessary infrastructure to connect these two worlds. MMOS together with CCP, the Human Protein Atlas and the University of Geneva created Project Discovery, the citizen science minigame inside EVE Online acclaimed by an extensive worldwide press coverage and winning several awards. For more information visit www.mmos.ch
About The Microsetta Initiative
Established in 2018 as a global extension of UC San Diego’s American Gut Project, The Microsetta Initiative (TMI) aims to allow anyone in the world to participate in microbiome citizen science. To date, the collective projects of TMI have DNA sequenced over 25,000 samples from more than 20,000 participants, and is the largest open-access human microbiome reference database. The de-identified data generated so far have been used in over 100 peer reviewed publications, helping researchers to better understand migraines, depression, how fermented foods modify your gut, and have even provided a backdrop to predict age from poop.
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