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Is virtual citizen science a game?

Is virtual citizen science a game?
Is virtual citizen science a game?
The use of game elements within virtual citizen science is increasingly common, promising to bring increased user activity, motivation and engagement to large-scale scientific projects. However there is an ongoing debate about whether or not gamifying systems such as these is actually an effective means by which to increase motivation and engagement in the long term. While gamification itself is receiving a large amount of attention, there has been little beyond individual studies to assess its suitability or success for citizen science; similarly, while frameworks exist for assessing citizen science performance, they tend to lack any appreciation of the effects that game elements might have had. We therefore review the literature to determine what the trends are regarding the performance of particular game elements or characteristics in citizen science, and survey existing projects to assess how popular different game features are. Investigating this phenomenon further, we then present the results of a series of interviews carried out with the EyeWire citizen science project team to understand more about how gamification elements are introduced, monitored and assessed in a live project. Our findings suggest that projects use a range of game elements with points and leaderboards the most popular, particularly in projects that describe themselves as `games'. Currently, gamification appears to be effective in citizen science for maintaining engagement with existing communities, but shows limited impact for attracting new players.
Simperl, Elena
40261ae4-c58c-48e4-b78b-5187b10e4f67
Reeves, Neal
80e12072-7fc9-47ab-850e-649b7c0a7271
Phethean, Christopher J
270f7f09-f94e-4d74-bfbf-2f2700d1572f
Lynes, Todd
c8c29974-d524-48d0-9c13-badf5836599e
Tinati, Ramine
f74a0556-6a04-40c5-8bcf-6f5235dbf687
Simperl, Elena
40261ae4-c58c-48e4-b78b-5187b10e4f67
Reeves, Neal
80e12072-7fc9-47ab-850e-649b7c0a7271
Phethean, Christopher J
270f7f09-f94e-4d74-bfbf-2f2700d1572f
Lynes, Todd
c8c29974-d524-48d0-9c13-badf5836599e
Tinati, Ramine
f74a0556-6a04-40c5-8bcf-6f5235dbf687

Simperl, Elena, Reeves, Neal, Phethean, Christopher J, Lynes, Todd and Tinati, Ramine (2018) Is virtual citizen science a game? ACM Transactions on Social Computing. (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

The use of game elements within virtual citizen science is increasingly common, promising to bring increased user activity, motivation and engagement to large-scale scientific projects. However there is an ongoing debate about whether or not gamifying systems such as these is actually an effective means by which to increase motivation and engagement in the long term. While gamification itself is receiving a large amount of attention, there has been little beyond individual studies to assess its suitability or success for citizen science; similarly, while frameworks exist for assessing citizen science performance, they tend to lack any appreciation of the effects that game elements might have had. We therefore review the literature to determine what the trends are regarding the performance of particular game elements or characteristics in citizen science, and survey existing projects to assess how popular different game features are. Investigating this phenomenon further, we then present the results of a series of interviews carried out with the EyeWire citizen science project team to understand more about how gamification elements are introduced, monitored and assessed in a live project. Our findings suggest that projects use a range of game elements with points and leaderboards the most popular, particularly in projects that describe themselves as `games'. Currently, gamification appears to be effective in citizen science for maintaining engagement with existing communities, but shows limited impact for attracting new players.

Text Is Virtual Citizen Science a Game? - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Submitted date: 23 July 2017
Accepted/In Press date: 23 April 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 419313
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/419313
PURE UUID: bc665b2c-d9ae-4325-a747-f7049e23ff1a
ORCID for Elena Simperl: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1722-947X
ORCID for Christopher J Phethean: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7697-6585

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 26 Jul 2018 04:01

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Contributors

Author: Elena Simperl ORCID iD
Author: Neal Reeves
Author: Todd Lynes
Author: Ramine Tinati

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