Borderlands Science is a new puzzle game which has players advancing real medical research

By Heidi Nicholas,
Update: The Borderlands Science minigame has only been out for a week, but it seems players have already completed over 21.5 million puzzles, helping to advance real medical research:


Original story: 2K Games today announced Borderlands Science; a mini puzzle game within Borderlands 3, where players will help advance medical research by mapping the human gut microbiome.


Borderlands Science is an arcade game found in Doctor Tannis' infirmary on Sanctuary III. It was made in collaboration with McGill University, Massively Multiplayer Online Science, and The Microsetta Initiative. It's a minigame made up of block puzzles which are based on strands of DNA. Completing these will help to map the microbes within. The video above explains it in full, but it seems that the idea behind the game is that computers tend to make small mistakes when organising this data, which in turn corrupts further analysis. In Borderlands Science, "colored tiles representing different nucleotides appear on a grid; by nudging them up within their columns, you attempt to organize them into the correct rows." Tiles can't always be lined up, but just the act of taking on these puzzles will apparently help in "identifying errors in real-world computer analyses."

The research is open access: "the entire scientific community will benefit" from players attempting these puzzles. There'll also be in-game rewards; players will earn currency to use for Heads and Skins, as well as boosters and buffs for stats, the quality of loot, and experience gains.

2K Games says that "Each of the Borderlands Science puzzles has a target score that you need to hit in order to progress and get credit for solving it. Note that hitting a puzzle's target score doesn't mean you have to move on to the next one though; often there will still be additional moves that you can make. Going above and beyond the bare minimum that's required is key if you want to beat the high scores already posted by Tannis and contribute more data to this important microbe initiative." Their announcement also reads that "the human gut is linked to numerous diseases and conditions, including diabetes, depression, autism, anxiety, obesity and more. By mapping these microbes, the hope is that scientists will be able to better understand these ecosystems, which may help guide future research into novel treatments and interventions."

Borderlands Science is available in-game now, in Doctor Tannis' infirmary on Sanctuary III.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!