Bowser natures and gamers

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Bowser natures and gamers

  1. 1. Of natures and gamers: Designing a gamified citizen science app Anne Bowser, Derek Hansen, Jocelyn Raphael, Matthew Reid, Ryan Gamett, Yurong He, Dana Rotman and Jenny Preece Figure 1: A screenshot of the WordPress prototype depicting the profile page of user “CatherineP” Figure 2: A “plant” from the indoor and outdoor prototyping sessions Introduction and Background Biotracker is a gamified citizen science data collection platform. Researchers recently used Biotracker to host Floracaching, a serious geocaching game where participants visit Floracaches of designated plants and contribute data such as a plant’s identification or state of bloom (figure 1). This data is used by scientists to study topics like the dissemination of allergens and the effects of climate change. Floracaching is designed to appeal to two primary populations: gamers interested in location-based games such as Geocaching and Letterboxing, and citizen scientists interested in themes relating to botany, ecology, and climate change. In general, gamers are motivated by game mechanics such as challenge, theme, reward, and progress [2]. Players of location-based games are also motivated by a desire to experience nature, socialize, and perform scavenger hunt activities [3]. In contrast, citizen scientists have different motivations based on personal interest in science as well as more altruistic wishes to facilitate scientific work [5]. We evaluated Floracaching with both gamers and citizen scientists with two primary purposes. First, we wanted to test out a new methodology for prototyping LBAGs, which is detailed in [1]. Second, we wondered which aspects of Floracaching would appeal to citizen scientists (or natures, to borrow the terminology from [4]) and which aspects of Floracaching would appeal to game enthusiasts (gamers). Methodology Two prototypes of Floracaching were evaluated at 2 Universities with 58 total participants. Twenty-two participants were classified as natures; the remainder formed our gamer group. During the initial indoor sessions, natures and gamers were split into different sessions so that those without certain skills (i.e., plant knowledge or familiarity with a certain technology) would not feel overwhelmed by others who were clearly experts. Users shared their motivations for using Floracaching, the activities they enjoyed, and suggestions for improving the app through surveys, focus groups, and behavioral trace data. The first prototype was relatively low-fidelity on multiple dimensions, and evaluated indoors. The second prototype was considered higher-fidelity and evaluated outdoors (see figure 2 for a visualization of a “plant” in each prototyping session). Results Natures and gamers who played Floracaching differed in their both evaluation of specific activities (table 1) and more general perceptions of the game. However, both groups appreciated Floracaching as a game with a purpose. In the words of one enthusiast, “with Geocaching it’s cool, and it’s fun, but it’s like ‘what’s References [1] Bowser, A., Hansen, D., Raphael, J., Reid, M., Gamett, R., He, Y., Rotman, D. and Preece, J. Prototyping in PLACE: A scalable approach to developing location-based apps and games. To appear in CHI 2013. [2] Flatla, D., Gutwin, C., Nacke, L., Bateman, S., and Mandryk, R. Calibration games: Making calibration tasks enjoyable by adding motivating game elements. Proc. UIST 2011, ACM Press (2011), 403-412. [3] O'Hara, K. Understanding geocaching practices and motivations. Proc. CHI 2008, ACM Press (2008), 1177-1186. [4] Prestopnik, N. and Crowston, K. Purposeful gaming and Socio-computational systems: A citizen science design case. Proc. Group 2012, ACM Press (2012). [5] Rotman, D., Preece, J., Hammock, J., Procita, K., Hansen, D., Parr, C., Lewis, D. and Jacobs, D. Dynamic changes in motivation in collaborative ecological citizen science projects. Proc. CSCW 2012, ACM Press (2012), 217-226. Rank Natures Gamers 1 Budding Scientist Citizen science activity Friendly Floracacher Social activity 2 Friendly Floracacher Social activity Budding Scientist Citizen science activity 3 Validator Identification activity Tour Guide Social activity 8 Tour Guide Social activity Conifer Collector Collection activity 9 First Finder Competition activity Forb Finder Collection activity 10 Forb Finder Collection activity Validator Identification activity Table 1: Nature and Gamer perceptions of different activities “the point’ whereas for this, you’re contributing to science while you’re doing it.” This appreciation may be the reason that the Budding Scientist activity is ranked highly by both groups. Gamers appreciated game elements more than natures. Two believed that the app would be better “if it were more like a game with badges, achievements, etc.” and “if there was a way to ‘win’ rather than just participating.” In contrast, natures considered game elements “distracting” and advocated for “more tools”. They also enjoyed identification activities: “I like being able to put my plant knowledge to use.” Discussion One compelling issue is designing gamified citizen science applications is finding ways to support both domain experts and casual gamers. Other researchers have solved this by offering a suite of activities that appeal to different groups, or by using different skins for different audiences [4]. However, both of these solutions require considerable effort, and it is not always clear what user group a new player belongs to. Therefore, it seems crucial to ensure that a gamified citizen science application provides the tools needed by both natures and gamers and supports the activities that both user groups enjoy. Another consideration in the design of gamified citizen science apps is ensuring that gamification does not have an adverse effect on data quality, a compelling challenge for future researchers.

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