When gamers aren’t busy conducting flame wars against developers they are upset with, arguing with other gamers online or DDoSing Sony, Blizzard and Riot Games, they’re pretty decent people who support Kickstarter games, band together to create bursary programmes and perform other such acts of goodness.

The latest feather in their collective caps is they’ve been helping out in the fight against ebola by doing what they do best – playing games. NBC has reported that there is a new puzzle game that pits gamers against the very real problem of discovering how to ” twist virtual protein molecules into the desired shapes” in ways that computer simulations alone have failed to determine.

The ebola puzzle is just one of many that form part of the FoldIt project that has been running since 2008 which uses computer power and human brains to solve a number of real-world science puzzles. The ebola challenge, according to the FoldIt website, is to “create a peptide inhibitor of the Ebola glycoprotein, this one with 30 amino acid residues” in order to help with the development of a vaccine for the deadly sickness that’s currently gripping parts of Africa.

If you’d like to help out, the current puzzle is live right now and will run until the 3rd of September. Should you not be a gamer, you can still take part by downloading and running [email protected], a programme that will use your computer’s spare processing power to work on small chunks of the ebola problem and others automatically.

[email protected] is the biggest distributed computing project in the world, consisting of over 171 000 computers around the world, with a processing power of 39 000 teraflops. To join up, all you need to do is download and install the software and run it; the programme does the rest.

Ah, gamers. What an awesome bunch of humans.

[Source – NBC News, FoldIt]
Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.