The Hipster Effect » gamification Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gaming towards cultural enrichment /2011/09/27/gaming-towards-cultural-enrichment/ /2011/09/27/gaming-towards-cultural-enrichment/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2011 14:00:52 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=100 more]]> It’s not every day I think to myself, “Gee, I wish I spoke Finnish so I could help translate some 19th century Finnish newspapers.” Then again, it’s not every day that somebody makes a game out of doing so.

A joint project between the National Library of Finland and distributed work expert Microtask, Digitalkoot does just that. While automatic text recognition has done an initial scan on texts such as the current project, 19th century issues of the newspaper Aamulehti, the inaccuracies of scanning outdated typography are immediately clear. This is where Microtask comes in, a firm dedicated to “automatically [splitting] work assignments into tiny pieces and [distributing] them to our digital workers around the world.” And how do you get thousands of workers to contribute their time for free? You make it interesting, of course.



The games featured on the Digitalkoot site remind me of the days when I would spend hours on typing games such as Typer Shark, inadvertently working myself up to the geek-worthy speed of 103 words per minute in the process. The most successful iterations of the gamification trend have one thing in common – they tap into the points and rewards systems of standard games to put the fun at the forefront and the task in the background. Last week, one such game helped scientists quickly unlock the enzyme structure of an AIDS-like virus using Foldit, a puzzle game developed by the University of Washington. As the success cases keep rolling in, we’re sure to see more of the world’s seemingly tedious tasks become prize-filled time-killers.

If only all the dull things in life could so easily be made fun.


Screenshot credit: Digitalkoot


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Gamers,1. AIDS protein, 0. /2011/09/20/gamers1-aids-protein-0/ /2011/09/20/gamers1-aids-protein-0/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 16:42:18 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=40 more]]> It took a decade of struggling with the structure of an enzyme produced by an AIDS-like virus before scientists threw the problem to the online gamers. It took the gamers only three weeks to solve it.

Produced by the University of Washington in 2008, Foldit is an online video game where players compete to unfold chains of amino acids. When the enzyme from the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) was added to the game, players were quickly able to produce a valid protein shape that researchers then verified as correct. The results were published in the Nature Structural & Molecular Biology journal, marking the first time that gamers and scientific researchers were acknowledged as co-authors. And while this may be the first time gamers have solved a long-lived scientific problem, it will hardly be the last.

The word “gamification” has recently made its way into popular media through blogs, conferences and word of mouth. Even the United States Navy has recruited gamers in a real-world hunt for Somali pirates. At its core, gamification asks a simple question: why can’t work be fun / interesting? By using the reward and puzzle concepts inherent in gaming to solve real-world problems, gamification plays on the strengths of a generation raised on PlayStations and Xboxes, taking advantage of skills previously assumed to be useless. Even video game playing surgeons have been found to be more precise than their non gamer colleagues.

All of this begs a very real question: just how many more world problems can we conquer by turning them into games and throwing them to the masses? It may not currently be worth the investment for many issues, but as technology continues its meteoric rise and the practice of “serious gaming” becomes increasingly legitimized, there’s little doubt that we’ll be seeing more gamers make their way into scientific publications not as research subjects, but as full-fledged collaborators. Game on.

via New Scientist and Yahoo! News

Photo credit: Marco Arment

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