Gamers, citizen scientists, and data: Exploring participant contributions in two games with a purpose

Nathan Prestopnik, Kevin Crowston, Jun Wang
  • Computers in Human Behavior, March 2017, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.035

Exploring participant contributions in two games with a purpose

What is it about?

Games have been suggested as a way to motivate contributions to crowd-sourcing systems, but their use increases concerns about data quality. We compared the quality of data from two citizen-science games, one that uses only some simple game elements (i.e., a gamified version of the task) and another a full fantasy role-playing game that uses a citizen science task only as a way to advance in the game. In the second, we observed some cheating (random answers given quickly) but otherwise data quality was not significantly different. Further, learning did not seem to affect data quality.

Why is it important?

The results suggest that gamification may be useful for motivating contributions to citizen science projects. Since there are many gamers, gamification could be useful to expand the pool of contributors to projects beyond those with an inherent interest in the topic. A second concern in most online systems is that contribution is skewed, with many people contributing only a few times. However, we found that for this task, the quality of even initial contributions was high enough to be useful.

The following have contributed to this page: Kevin Crowston