We are pleased to announce the results of our recent competition on games for social and scientific benefit. Given the quality of submissions we decided to split the prize between Jamie Taylor's "Where's Wenda?" and Will Smith's "Catch the Criminal". Both ideas are summarised below, but we would first like to give a big thank you to all those who took part both in posting ideas and joining in the lively discussions of these ideas.
Jamie's idea "Where's Wenda?" was to create a game with the central premise that women have been erased from history and as such the present is a mess. The players task would be to travel back in time to key historical events and re-insert women back into the course of events. Jamie's game concept is intended to get people thinking more critically about their past, to insert different perspectives and to acknowledge the contribution of excluded groups.
This idea was very popular and received a lot of feedback, an interesting further development of the core idea was a novel game mechanic where one player is altering the past while another is in the present reporting how it is changing around them.
The debate of the idea also raised some very important issues including EdgyHistorian's comment that "The problem I have with the idea, which is basically a good one, is that it smacks of a certain essentialism, that 'woman', as pan-historical category, will always behave in specific ways, differently from men... Past politics were gendered, but that meant that women in positions of power very often behaved in much the same ways as men (Empress Matilda, Queen Elizabeth I) in order for their actions to be considered politically legitimate. How would you get around that?"
Finally, as an approach to implementing a prototype of this game, the ability to modify sandbox games such as The Sims or Grand Theft Auto was discussed. The NEMOG team believe this game could be a great educational resource and we are very grateful to Jamie for all his efforts in promoting a lively conversation on the Crowdicity platform.
Will's idea "Catch the Criminal" was to gamify the identification of suspects in a centralised repository of crime photos. By engaging players via a game the hope is that more positive ids will be crowdsourced. Although the liklihood of recognising someone in the photos may be low, players could still progress in the game by identifying repeat offenders in cases where two photos in different incidents include the same person.
The idea again received lively debate with Myriam Davidovici-Nora noting "If many people declare silly things to get the first prize in gamification, how can the police differentiate real and false information? Does it have the means to do it ? Will it be not too costly to check that? And, Do people have incentives to give information because there is a virtual prize?" Given the serious implications of false information this is a reasonable concern and one that would need to be addressed in development. However, it is not uncommon for serious games and science discovery games to need to filter results provided by players.
The NEMOG team particularly liked this idea as the game potentially has both social and scientific benefit. The societal gains are the obvious primary objective of helping to solve crimes, but as a secondary benefit Will's research into computer vision would benefit from the labelling of these difficult to classify data sets.
Other ideas of particular note that were raised during the challenge include:
- Nick Holliman's work on arcade style games to evaluate human performance on stereoscopic 3D displays. More details of this work are available at binocularity.org
- Laura Harrison and the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability research programme (BESS) plans to run a competition for school STEM clubs, aiming to design an engaging digital game about how the choices we make affect the type and amount of benefits that we get from nature. Teams will pitch their design to a science, education and games industry judging panel. BESS will then pay for the winning team to work with a software developer to release their design.
Thank you again to everyone who took part, we hope you all enjoyed the lively conversations and we are keen to see how some of these ideas develop further now that the competition is over.