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Dallas Cowboys’ Legend and Video Gamers Help Fight Cancer

SMU Research

Originally Posted: May 23, 2019

Gamer’s play contributes to SMU research

The worlds of eSports, professional sports, philanthropy and cancer researching collided on Saturday for an online streaming event to raise funds for children with cancer, their families and Children’s Health in Dallas.

Three-time Super Bowl winner and NFL Hall of Famer, Michael Irvin, and two-time Madden NFL champion, Drini Gjoka, joined to compete in a gaming tournament alongside patients and patient families at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. The tournament consisted of a live Madden NFL 19 streaming game via Twitch and ExtraLife. Stream viewers were asked to make contributions to Children’s Health in support of its Dallas emergency room renovation.

At the same time, technology created by BALANCED Media | Technology helped Southern Methodist University (SMU) researchers search for a cure for cancer.

The event was also made possible by esports organization Complexity Gaming, which streamed the tournament via its channels and provided social media, press and corporate connections.  Other collaborators included The Playmakers Academy of young athletes and Still Thankful LLC, a bridge for medical families and their support group that wants to help.

NBC-5’s Paul Jones covered the event, which was followed by more than 13,000 people.

Video Game Was Fun, Also Helped Cancer Researchers

Not only did the Dallas Cowboys’ Irvin and Gjoka help earn thousands of dollars for families affected by cancer, but a Twitch interactive gamed called Omega Cluster also allowed people watching the gaming tournament to help SMU researchers.

In the Omega Cluster game, each player acted as a spaceship pilot who must warp from location to location gathering energy crystals before enemies’ lock onto their position and destroy their ship. The process of collecting and sorting crystals was actually sorting by proxy a set of chemotherapeutic co-medications compounds that have been tested in the SMU Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery’s laboratory. The game let players explore these compounds and identify what has allowed some to be successful in lab testing while others have not.

BALANCED’s HEWMEN, meanwhile, continually supplied all of the game players with the best-known solutions each time a player launched Omega Cluster. This synchronization ensured that the video gaming community was always working to help push the science to the next level by searching and sorting the best-known solutions for any further improvements.

“If they just play that game…that’s actually helping us try to find those compounds that can actually make incurable cancer treatable and that’s what the goal is, what we’re working towards,” Corey Clark told NBC. Clark, the deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall and director of the Human and Machine Intelligence (HuMIn) Game Lab, designed the game with the help of research from biochemistry professors John Wise and Pia Vogel.

Not the First Time SMU Has Worked With Gamers To Help Cure Cancer

It’s not the first time Wise and Vogel have worked with Clark to narrow the search for cancer-fighting chemotherapy drugs.

They also partnered with the makers of “Minecraft” to create a version of the popular best-selling video game that could help SMU researchers identify which chemical compounds show promise in alleviating the problem of chemotherapy failure after repeated use.

The Vogel and Wise research labs are part of the Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery (CD4) in SMU’s Dedman College.  Source: SMU, Play It Forward eSports READ MORE