EteRNA is a game developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford Universities. The focus is on Ribonucleic Acid (RNA), a key part of protein development. As with Foldit and similar games focused on building molecules, EteRNA is trying to leverage human intelligence to determine ideal, consistent models that will generate stable sequences of, in this case, RNA.
For those who aren’t as confident in their biology knowledge, NOVA/PBS has worked with the EteRNA people to create an RNA lab. It goes through the same basic tutorial for the game, but it integrates how to play the game with how RNA creations would work inside the cell.
Where the game can contribute to better understanding of RNA building rules is with those players who demonstrate sufficient facility with the known rules to be able to design puzzles for other players.
EteRNA was first released in early 2011, and along with Foldit, is the subject of at least one research project to assess the impact of crowdsourced research efforts. It’s only a matter of time, I think, before EteRNA results lead to a research paper in the same way it has for Foldit and for similar games, like EyeWire.