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Sep. 21, 2011 at 12:37pm Gamers solve AIDS puzzle

I'm a gamer, and I have been for most of my life.  Puzzles, board games, pen & paper RPGs, CCGs, video games... I remember my mom setting up timers for me and my three siblings in an attempt to see we all got equal time gaming (and oh, the perils of finding a save point within our allotted time).  For my sixth grade graduation, I received The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which was replayed again and again and again.  In college, I shared Final Fantasy VIII and Civilization with one of my roommates - FF8 resulted in another TV scheduling dilemma, between the two of us and the two other roommates who wanted to watch actual TV shows.  Boo!  Last month, I went to PAX Prime and basked in the sites, sounds, and smells of other gamers.  It was awesome.

So you can imagine that I'm a big believer in games at the library. Games are another method of storytelling. We can collaborate on games, meet new friends, discover shared interests. It's also a helpful way for me to suggest books to teens - maybe they aren't big readers, but most teens play games of one kind or another. Are you into the Fallout series? Well, then I have a futuristic dystopia for you! Do you like alternate reality games (ARGs)? Check out Cory Doctorow's Little Brother or Walter Jon Williams' This is Not a Game.

Speaking of ARGs, did you know that games can also help further our scientific research? Yes... yes they can! Video game players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years - using a game called Foldit, which was released by the University of Washington, players have deciphered the crystal structure of a protein that causes Aids in rhesus monkeys.  They did this in less than ten days.  I am not a scientist (not even after all those times I helped GLADoS, for science, you monster), so I will not attempt to explain how this worked.  What I will do, as any good librarian should, is direct you to several resources where you can read more about this.  Here's MSNBC's Cosmic Log and Discover Magazine's article.

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