Online Puzzles And – Science?

Online jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles, and other kinds of puzzles provide hours of entertainment for millions of people every day. In fact, playing online games is said to keep the mind sharp, and has enlarged social networks of many. But, can online puzzles benefit science? According to Dara Mohammadi at The Observer, the answer is “YES”! Here are some amazing ways that playing games online can actually produce benefits for mankind.

Online Puzzle Game: Foldit

Were you one of the many people playing Foldit a couple of years ago? If so, you contributed to the scientific research being conducted on AIDS. For thirteen years, scientists had been trying to solve a problem with protein folding that caused a disease similar to AIDS in monkeys. However, 3 weeks after making the game Foldit available online, the problem was solved.

According to Scientific American, scientists and programmers at Foldit are, to this day, providing various puzzles to the public. Scientists making presentations for funding to congressional subcommittees have even referred to the benefits of online gaming in the R&D of scientific problems. Currently, Foldit has Puzzle 935 online.

Online Astronomy Game: Planet Hunters

While not a puzzle, per se, Planet Hunters is a popular game that invites players to track the light emissions of planets. These light emissions are measured every 30 minutes, and have led to the discovery of over 40 planets that – get this – COULD SUPPORT LIFE!

Online Puzzles and Patterns

It seems that the human brain is hardwired to study, perceive, analyze, and re-order patterns. In fact, this is one thing that the human brain does far better than a computer. The recognition of elements of the human face, for example, is still a challenge for computers, yet children can memorize hundreds of faces in a short period of time. This actually gives humans the advantage in many puzzle-type scientific challenges. Sure, computers can calculate mathematical equations much faster than the human brain, but recognizing the characteristics of your face – or of a particular star – is much harder.

Candy Crush and Genetics

If you enjoyed high school biology (and who didn’t?) and found genetics class to be particularly interesting, you can participate in a game of genetic analysis similar to Candy Crush. Fraxinus is a game available online that is constructed just like Candy Crush, except you are trying to line up nucleotides from the genetic data of a fungus that is killing trees. There is a similar game in the works for the genetic code that causes Alzheimer’s.

 

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ACHIEVEMENT ADDICTS AND CLAN MEMBERS

The online gaming community – even with online jigsaw puzzles – is actually a universe, rather than a world. In the world, you have known and explored oceans, continents, and civilizations.  With a universe, there is always the unknown. And that is the world of online gaming – a mixture of the known and unknown.

Clans

On the rise with today’s games are “clans”.  First Person Shooter, or FPS games, are usually the realm of clans, while Role Playing Games also are host to these otherwise un-related groups. In some cases, driving games such as Grand Theft Auto attract clan members. These groups stick together, as any good clan would, and migrate from game to game. These clans have members that each have a different skill, and they combine to make a juggernaut that can overwhelm any opponents.

While this is great fun for the clan members, players outside the clan, individuals or loosely associated players, find themselves slaughtered – figuratively, of course. Some game systems have separate areas for these groups, so that clans can play clans and individuals and small groups can play their own kind.

The problems arise when these two distinctive groups wander into each other’s territories. An individual or a small group of friends who wander into a clan war can end up not having any fun. Even worse, though, are clans that deliberately “raid” less organized sites. In lobbies where people just congregate to play, a clan can be really annoying. You’ll even find clans that sweep across non-weapon oriented games, such as word-games and free online jigsaw puzzles. Heaven help the player who tries to take on Scrabble with a clan – they can post 2 letter words that score a gazillion points faster than you can hit “enter”.  If you sense that you are just being used as bait, you probably are. Ethical clan members stick to their own kind. The others are just cyber bullies.

Achievements

Some players are addicted to getting achievements. In fact, the entire objective of the game, for these people, is to get prizes, treasure, points, and rewards.

This is fine, if you don’t have a partner, or if you have a partner with similar goals. But it can be really frustrating for a player who wants to just play the game and grab achievements as they arise. The game play itself is the goal of some people, and while achievements often arm you for future adventures, they are not an end in themselves.

Not so for the achievement addict. This person will rush through each scenario, trying to beat their previous times in grabbing up each achievement. As this player’s partner, you will probably end up as the sacrificial lamb. You are the collateral damage. You are the man left behind, because the achievements are the only focus and only purpose.

This is the type of gamer who wants the most points in Scrabble, and memorizes every 2 to 3 letter word in the Scrabble dictionary, and every word using “k”, “w”, “x”, and “z”. It doesn’t matter that you carefully crafted a multi-syllable word using all 7 of your tiles – your opponent just hammered you with “xu”.

Yes, the world – rather, universe – of online gaming can be virtually bloody and lonely. Learn to recognize the clans and achievement addicts, for your own protection or try a free jigsaw puzzle on the internet!

 

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Free Online Jigsaw Puzzles in the Gaming Market

When we first had the idea of developing the Jigfun website it was as a labour of love. We were going to create the website we wanted to use, and if there were plenty of other puzzlers out there who would also benefit from the kind of features and social media interaction we were going to include – then so much the better.

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Once we got going however, we soon realised that if the bank manager was going to be held at bay until we could develop all the great features we had in mind, such as personalised jigsaw puzzles, social media features so puzzlers could play together, we’d better actually check our facts and make sure there were enough other puzzlers in the online gaming community to make the website a viable proposition.
We needn’t have worried.  It turns out that not all gamers are teenage boys who want to shoot things – a lot.  The online gaming community is a really diverse bunch with a third over the age of 36, nearly half are female, and over a third of all gaming time being spent on games that don’t involve shooting (in order of importance) people, aliens, wildlife or politicians.
Some recent figures that show online jigsaw puzzle websites like Jigfun really do have a place in the online gaming world come from a report from the Entertainment Software Association (EAS) in the United States.  The report is based on both a 2013 survey of over 2000 US households, and industry sales figures, and among the key findings of the ESA report are:
•    Most households have at least one games console, PC or smartphone.
•    There are, on average, two gamers per household.
•    The average age of game players is 30 (with 36% being over the age of 36).
•    45% of the people who buy games are female.
•    Playing Puzzles, Board Game, Game Show, Trivia and Card Games account for 34% of the time spent playing.
•    Action, Sports, Strategy and Role-Playing games make up 26% of the time spent playing.  Persistent Multi-player Universe make up 14% of the time.
•    32% of gamers play social games.
(The figures are from the US market, but it is generally accepted that they are representative of most of the developed countries in the world, which make up the majority of the gaming market).
What we can glean from the figures is that most households contain gamers, and, most importantly for us, of all the time spent gaming over a third is spent on the category that includes puzzles (including jigsaw puzzles) and board games.  While we’re realistic enough to appreciate that a website offering free online jigsaw puzzles (anchor text link) will only take a proportion of that, the amount of time is so large that even a small part is still really significant.  The report also shows that the US gaming market alone was worth over $20 Billion in 2012, so to answer you the question of “is it worthwhile?” – you bet it is.

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http://www.jigfun.com

For the full ESA report, visit:
http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2013.pdf
http://www.theesa.com/facts/gameplayer.asp