DARPA has been turning the tables. Rather than simply appearing as a plot point in video games, they're using video games and crowdsourcing to create solutions and solve problems that cannot be taken care of entirely within the agency. Foldit, a protein matching game funded in part by DARPA, used the power of people at play to create a "human computer" that could outperform supercomputers when it came to the puzzle of assembling proteins. More recently, DARPA released a submarine-tracking game aimed at collecting and integrating crowdsourced data and tactics into real world submarine chases.
Crowdsourcing is a big deal now, in the early months of 2012. According to a report in Nextgov, on the heels of these and other successful projects, DARPA hopes to keep developing serious games, with real-world military and scientific applications, that the whole world can help them play. The government is catching on to what many of us have already known: 72% of US households play video games in some way, creating a massive potential resource for researchers to tap into.