Who would have thought a game could save lives? Well the lives of Ash trees at least. By crowd sourcing data, Fraxinus actively helped find what makes some Ash trees immune to the deadly Chalara virus. Contrary to what some may believe, human minds are actually a lot better at visual puzzles than computers and can recognise patterns far better than machines. This game leveraged that ability and fed data back to the Sainsbury Laboratory to help with their work. By providing the player with a pattern matching puzzle, a story and a score for how close they could match a pattern with as few changes as possible, a viral game was born.
Working as part of a small team, we brought this project to life. A big challenge was finding a way to store such a vast amount of data in a format that could be used by the game as well as be useful to the scientists. The first 10,000 patterns were “completed” in the first week and we had to keep feeding more data as more people engaged with the game.
Fraxinus was nominated for a TIGA award and also had findings from the game submitted to a scientific journal.