Nature Biotechnology Journal Showcases Unprecedented Success of Borderlands Science in Driving Citizen Science Participation

Mini-Game Within Borderlands 3 Generates Data That Can Be Applied Toward Improving Research, Helping Cure Diseases

Frisco, TX – September 24, 2020 – Today, Nature Biotechnology – a monthly journal in the top 2% of impact factor that covers the science and business of biotechnology – published a perspective paper authored by the creators of Borderlands Science about Borderlands Science’s success, the massive scope of its impact on medical research, and its applicability to future research.

Released in April by Gearbox Entertainment and 2K, in collaboration with MMOS, McGill University, and the Microsetta Initiative, Borderlands Science is an interactive science discovery game (SDG) within Borderlands 3 that invites players to map the human gut microbiome to advance vital medical studies while earning in-game rewards.

“I am so encouraged by how the Borderlands community has embraced Borderlands Science and the tremendous impact the game has had on real-world medical research,” said Randy Pitchford, co-author of the paper and Gearbox Entertainment co-founder. “Moreover, I’m heartened by the prospect of video games continuing to advance the scientific and medical research that could contribute greatly to our understanding of many diseases.”

The integration of Borderlands Science into Borderlands 3 has become one of the most active citizen science initiatives. In fewer than three months, Borderlands Science reached more than 1 million participants who solved at least one open task. During those three months, researchers collected 50 million puzzle solutions from Borderlands Science players, saving medical researchers hundreds of thousands of hours in training computers to do the same. Strikingly, the volume of work generated by Borderlands Science has oscillated between 10,000 and 15,000 hours of work per day, compared to the couple of hundreds of hours per day reported in other projects.

“The participation rate is unprecedented and beyond our most optimistic anticipations,” said Jérôme Waldispühl, co-author of the paper and Associate Professor of Computer Science at McGill University. “Borderlands Science demonstrates the formidable potential of video games to accelerate research and opens new horizons to science.”

The data collected from Borderlands Science will help researchers map the human gut microbiome and better understand a variety of medical conditions. But future applications of the framework established by Borderlands Science could have an even greater effect. Borderlands Science was supported by the Genomic Application Partnership Program of Genome Canada and Genome Québec.

“Borderlands Science has demonstrated the tremendous impact of citizen scientists, and yet there is still so much more we can do,” said Dr. Rob Knight, co-author of the paper and the co-founder of the American Gut Project. “For example, the Microsetta Initiative started to collect data to study the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and factors influencing susceptibility to COVID-19. This project is another instance of the type of research that is a natural match for the Borderlands Science framework.”

“This extraordinary achievement of the Borderlands 3 player community in Borderlands Science is not only a major contribution to scientific research, but a clear message to the whole game industry: citizen science and video games are a perfect match,” said MMOS CEO and co-founder Attila Szantner.

Potential applications, like the Microsetta Initiative’s COVID-19 research, highlight the impact that partnerships between the video game industry and researchers may have during emergency situations, when the scientific community could benefit from a platform that quickly mobilizes large numbers of participants to complete urgent tasks.

To learn more about the Borderlands Science project, visit Borderlands Science online or

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Leveling Up Citizen Science” is available from Nature Biotechnology by accessing and entering the paper’s DOI, which is 10.1038/s41587-020-0694-x.


About Gearbox Entertainment Company
Gearbox Entertainment Company is a Frisco, Texas-based award-winning, independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment. It was founded in 1999 by game industry veterans, and its first release was Half-Life: Opposing Force. Since then, the company has become known for successful game franchises including Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, and Battleborn, as well as acquired properties Duke Nukem and Homeworld. For more information, visit

About Take-Two Interactive Software
Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. We develop and publish products through our labels Rockstar Games, 2K, and Private Division, as well as Social Point, a leading developer of mobile games. Our products are designed for console systems and personal computers, including smartphones and tablets, and are delivered through physical retail, digital download, online platforms and cloud streaming services. The Company’s common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at

About 2K
Founded in 2005, 2K develops and publishes global interactive entertainment for console and handheld gaming systems, personal computers and mobile devices, with product availability including physical retail and digital download. The Company is home to many talented development studios, including Visual Concepts, Firaxis Games, Hangar 13, Cat Daddy Games, 31st Union and Cloud Chamber. 2K’s portfolio currently includes the renowned BioShock®, Borderlands™, Mafia and XCOM® franchises; NBA® 2K, the global phenomenon and highest rated* annual sports title for the current console generation; the critically acclaimed Sid Meier’s Civilization® series; the popular WWE® 2K and WWE® SuperCard franchises, as well as emerging properties NBA® 2K Playgrounds 2, Carnival Games and more. Additional information about 2K and its products may be found at

*According to 2008 – 2020

About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

About MMOS
MMOS (Massively Multiplayer Online Science) is a Swiss start-up focusing on bringing citizen science activities to AAA videogames; setting up collaborations and providing the necessary infrastructure to connect these two worlds. MMOS together with CCP, the Human Protein Atlas and the University of Geneva created Project Discovery, the citizen science minigame inside EVE Online acclaimed by an extensive worldwide press coverage and winning several awards. For more information visit

About The Microsetta Initiative
Established in 2018 as a global extension of UC San Diego’s American Gut Project, The Microsetta Initiative (TMI) aims to allow anyone in the world to participate in microbiome citizen science. To date, the collective projects of TMI have DNA sequenced over 25,000 samples from more than 20,000 participants, and is the largest open-access human microbiome reference database. The de-identified data generated so far have been used in over 100 peer reviewed publications, helping researchers to better understand migraines, depression, how fermented foods modify your gut, and have even provided a backdrop to predict age from poop.