Play to Cure: Genes in Space

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Genes in Space is the first project I worked on with Guerilla Tea, the project, for Cancer Research UK, is believed to be a world first in solving scientific problems whilst creating a game that is fun and enjoyable as a standalone product.

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Genes in Space is the first project I worked on with Guerilla Tea, the project, for Cancer Research UK, is believed to be a world first in solving scientific problems whilst creating a game that is fun and enjoyable as a standalone product. To be more specific Play to Cure allows players to identify anomalies in real world gene microarray data whilst playing as a harvester and trader of in-game substance "Element Alpha." By crowdsourcing this data analysis it is hoped that researchers can more quickly identify anomalies which can be attributed to cancer, eventually leading to the discovery of a cure.

The scientific merits of this project made it an honour to work on and despite joining the company part way through development, I was able to play a significant role in its creation. Initially I focused on the development of a change-point algorithm to filter the data into something more useful. The bulk of my work, however, revolved around the development of the backend. A RESTful API for which, I was the primary developer within this scope I designed and implemented the functionality for Registration and Login, Local and Online saving of user data and Leaderboards on both the client and server. I was also responsible for implementing the opening cinematic (story) and took a large degree of responsibility for testing and fixing Android specific bugs.

The main challenge on this project for me, aside from adapting to a new working environment, was to ensure the scalability of the server, since the hope is for a very large number of users in order to maximise the amount of research data completed and Cancer Research UK has devoted significant effort to PR & Marketing with ths in mind. Whilst the success of this remains to be seen, load testing and measures put in place both by Guerilla Tea and Cancer Research UK leave us fairly confident about the launch.