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Future Tech: 

Playing this smartphone game will help beat cancer


Save the Odds and help real-life cancer patients while you do it.

One of the saddest things about getting older is that it becomes increasingly difficult to squeeze in guilt-free gaming. Sure, you might get 20 minutes on a train or half an hour after work, but those all-night sessions from your childhood are long gone, sucked out of your schedule and replaced by boring things like ‘life admin’ and ‘losing weight’.

What if playing games could somehow benefit society, though? Not in a ‘the best games are works of art’ kind of way, but really, actually help those in need? This is the idea behind the Citizen Science program from Cancer Research, in which doing your bit to help beat cancer is as simple as playing around on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

You see, Cancer Research has mountains upon mountains of data to analyse to help better understand the disease, and its research teams can’t tackle it alone. So, rather than try to convince us to pull up a chair and start coding spreadsheets, they’ve built the data into its new game, Reverse the Odds, which comes with 350 levels of game-based research. It’s sort of like Candy Crush, but instead of crushing liquorice allsorts, you’re helping to crush a disease that killed nearly 600,000 people in the US last year.

In Reverse the Odds, your job is to help the Odds – the game’s colourful googly-eyed creatures whose world is falling apart around them. The game also incorporates real, magnified samples of human tissue donated by former cancer patients, and by answering simple questions about the data you help scientists to learn more about it.

But what if you make a mistake? Couldn’t that mislead the researchers? The developers insist that they will be looking for trends in the data, so any wayward results will be scrubbed out once lots of of people start playing – or coding – the same levels.

To find out more about the science behind Reverse the Odds, visit the Cancer Research blog. Alternatively, if you’d rather just start playing, you can download the game for Android and iPhone.

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