It was the first time a crowd-sourced science experiment solved an important science challenge.
Researchers at the University of Washington had a closer look at the strategies that enabled players to achieve that result. They concluded that gamers who were provided tools for creating, editing, sharing and rating game-playing recipes within the Foldit game came up with at least one recipe, called Blue Fuse, offered a "striking resemblance" to a "scientist-built", but unpublished algorithm called Fast Relax.
"With our previous papers, we proved that a scientific-discovery game can solve long-standing scientific problems, but this paper shows how gamers codified their strategies, shared them and improved them. This is just the beginning of what Foldit players are capable of solving," explained Seth Cooper, the primary architect and co-creator of Foldit and the creative director of the Center for Game Science.
The authors of the paper said they monitored 721 Foldit gamers over a period of three months and discovered a considerable trend toward collaboration as well as a "remarkably flexible nature of the gamer intelligence," which is inspired by human intuition and creative game play that allows users to employ certain tasks at different stages.