Citizen Science Game: Foldit: First Contact

The ModLab has helped to develop a new version of the classic citizen science game Foldit, featuring a science fiction narrative campaign mode.

Colin Milburn, Katherine Buse, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, and Melissa Wills (UC Davis ModLab), in collaboration with Justin Siegel (UC Davis Genome Center), Seth Cooper (Northeastern University), and Josh Aaron Miller (Northeastern University), aimed to study the effects of wrapping a science fiction narrative around the Foldit game, experimenting with emergent meanings at the intersection of gameplay mechanics and a fictive storyworld. The new narrative campaign mode, Foldit: First Contact, publicly debuted as an experimental feature in the May 2022 update of Foldit (build ID 20220510-28efe43995). The goal was not simply to enhance Foldit’s popular appeal or its capacity to turn gamers into researchers. Rather, the redesign aspired to cultivate certain structures of feeling, encouraging critical self-reflection about science, technology, and civic values.

Play Foldit here: