The Psychology Behind Gamesourcing

November 23, 2011 By Aminda

A recent post discussed the importance of getting more participation in open science. An article from Top Coder provides some interesting insight into why “gamesourcing” has been such a successful way to engage users in scientific projects.

While the gamesourcing model may not solve every problem, Adrien Treuille, co-founder of FoldIt, a gamesourcing platform which successfully solved a molecular, explains why game-play and Crowdsourcing worked so well for that challenge. Among her reasons:

It’s a Total Rush! Playing a game is fun. Games that tie social experiences to the game-play can be extremely fun for the players. The Foldit creators experienced this first hand as an excited and dedicated community quickly developed around this game. In other words, it wasn’t work, it was enjoyable and therefore people kept coming back to play more.

Humans Create Knowledge. In the game-play, through iterative processes and open forums, more advanced players began mentoring and offering advice to those just joining the game or struggling to advance their nano-engineering skills. They began sharing knowledge for the sole purpose of advancing knowledge, and it worked.

It Means a Lot to Players.  Measuring performance versus other contributors is often something missing in ordinary people’s lives. A routine day, a routine job often doesn’t challenge the individual in the way a well thought out game can. The game has become quite a big part of many players’ lives.

A white published by TopCoder on designing successful gamesourcing initiatives explains that successful projects also take into account the personality types of the audience they are trying to engage. While some players are in it to win, others may enjoy the experience because of the social aspect while others simply enjoy the opportunity to explore and learn. Because there are multiple personality types involved, developers are more likely to have success if they incorporate elements into the game that will appeal to each of them.

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