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What? I can cure cancer while playing Improbable Island?
That's right! By donating your unused CPU cycles to boffins who need serious computing power, you can actually help make the world a better place. Come on, you're playing a text-based game, it's not like you're using much of your computer's resources anyway.
Let me explain. When a scientist wants to do something that involves an awful lot of computing power, he can go and book time on the sort of supercomputer that has to be cooled by liquid nitrogen and costs a couple of grand per hour to rent, or he can try to do the computation on his own computer and wait ten years. OR. Or. He can use a grid. Grid computing is where you've got a bunch of normal, everyday computers all connected together, working on the same problem and sending their answers back.
Scientists and researches want to use YOUR computer to fight AIDS, cancer, and world hunger! You download a little widget, and any unused CPU cycles go towards doing Wonderful Things! Think of it like a screensaver - except instead of waving the Windows icon around, it's analysing a protein that might have a functional relationship with cancer.
Okay, so what sort of research is it doing?
Well, there's a bunch of things - the master list is here, and that shows you all the research that your computer can do while you're not using it. You can pick and choose between projects if you want.
So what's in it for me?
You get to contribute to humanitarian projects without having to open your wallet, get off your arse, or inconvenience yourself for more than about ten minutes. Every time a charity mugger tries to sign you up for a direct debit, you can say "Sorry, I'm already contributing to humanitarian research," and stroll on. You get to cure AIDS while in the pub, and address world hunger while puking in the toilet later on. You get to do something useful with your computer while you're not using it (and don't give me that "Oh, I always turn mine off to reduce my carbon footprint" bollocks, I know you've left your computer turned on and wasting electricity for ten minutes while you nip out for a ciggy or make a cup of tea, like I do every single day), instead of having it just sit there being useless.
Oh, and if you're looking for actual in-game advantages...Five hundred Supporter Points, after running the program for a total of twenty-four hours (not necessarily all at once)Five Supporter Points each day that World Community Grid updates your statisticsCobbleStones, which can be used in lieu of Supporter Points for some itemsTen per cent extra starting Stamina for five game days, every time World Community Grid updates your statistics.
OK, I've got it. Let's do this thing.
Yes, let's. Head back to the game and go to Cobblestone Cottage, which is in the Common Grounds, which you can find from any Outpost.
Wait, wait, questions. I have Questions.
Are they Frequently-Asked, by any chance? You can find those here.