Bowser so cs


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Bowser so cs

  1. 1. Floracaching: Researching a gamified citizen science app Anne Bowser et al. Figure 1: The Floracaching interface. This screen shot illustrates the process of creating a floracache. About Floracaching Floracaching is a gamified mobile application designed to gather plant phenology data for Project Budburst (figure 1). Plant phenology data, which includes things such as when a perennial begins to bud or when a tree’s leaves begin to fall, is valuable to scientists who study things like the dissemination of allergens and global climate change. In Floracaching the central artifact that players interact with is a floracache, or a specific plant (for example, the northern red oak planted in front of a college library) designated as part of the game (figure 2). These floracaches are mapped in the application so that any user can visit them. In that respect, Floracaching shares some similarities with location-based games like Geocaching. Users interact with the app by creating floracaches of new plants and by checking into floracaches that already exist. Checking into a floracache involves three optional tasks. First, after finding the floracache users check a box to indicate the plant’s current phonological state, such as “all leaves withered,” or “full flowering”. Second, users comment on a certain aspect of the floracache. Users may also photograph the floracache. Floracaching is played when users complete activities (designed to collect different types of data) involving these tasks. For example, “Validator” asks users to visit a new floracache and confirm its preliminary identification. These activities can change in response to the specific needs of scientists collecting data. Key Papers [1] Bowser, A., Hansen, D., Boston, B., He, Y., Gunnell, L., Reid, M. & Preece, J. (2013). Using gamification to inspire new citizen science volunteers. Submitted to Gamification Conference 2014. [2] Bowser, A., Hansen, D., Preece, J., Hammock, J., He, Y., Rotman, D., Boston, C., Raphael, J., Reid, M. & Gamett, R. (2014). Of natures and gamers: lessons from designing a mobile app for citizen science. Submitted to CSCW 2014. [3] 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. Proc. CHI ‘13. New York: ACM Press (2013). Co-designing Floracaching Floracaching was developed as part of a co-design process involving 58 participants at 2 universities in 6 total iterations. We designed Floracaching using PLACE, an iterative, mixed-fidelity approach to Prototyping Location, Activities, Collective experience, and Experience over time in location-based apps and games. As figure 3 illustrates, all of these aspects are present in each iteration, although some aspects may be higher fidelity than others. For example, our early iterations were considered high-fidelity in regard to the activities that they included, but low-fidelity in their representation of the social conditions included in the finalized game. Figure 3: Understanding PLACE as a scalable approach to developing location- based apps and games such as Floracaching Figure 2: Floracaches from early and later sessions Understanding the motivations of “natures” and “gamers” Floracaching was created primarily to offer citizen scientists volunteers (referred to as “natures”) a fun way of uploading their data from a mobile device. By incorporating the motivational elements of games we also designed Floracaching to engage a second user group of gamers and technology enthusiasts (“gamers”). These two groups have different needs in terms of both the form an interface will take and the specific content that it will include. Through our experiences co- designing Floracaching we identified three key differences between these groups: 1.Gamers desire guidance, while natures prefer autonomy. During a post- evaluation survey, gamers expressed opinions such as: “People like to be free but sometimes it’s nice to say ‘we need this, go do this today.’” In contrast, natures were more interested in exploring Floracaching on their own. 2.Gamers and natures integrate Floracaching into their lives differently. Natures appreciated Floracaching because it fit well with their existing interests: “I liked it a lot, just because I like to be outdoors.” Gamers were less willing to perform lengthy and complex tasks, and needed the app to be convenient: “I’m not going to drive an hour just to see if some plant bloomed.” 3.Gamers seek out challenge in a variety of game activities. In contrast, natures prefer challenges that allow them to apply their domain knowledge, such as plant validation tasks. Floracaching was recently evaluated with 71 undergraduates enrolled in a selective science, technology, and society program. The motivations of those who reported that they would use Floracaching (i.e., a gamified app) versus those who would contribute to other citizen science projects are reported in table 1. Acknowledgements: This research was conducted as a team endeavor with other members of the Biotracker research group ( This work was supported by NSF grants #CNS- 0628084 and #SES 0968456 Table 1: Comparing the motivations of participants who would use Floracaching with the motivations of participants who would contribute to other citizen science projects Motivation Use the Floracaching app Contribute to other C.S. projects     Is fun t= 4.145, p< .01 t= 3.493, p< .01 Supports my interest in plants t= 1.066, p= ns t= 3.023, p< .01 Helps me learn about plants and their environment t= 5.030, p< .00 t= 2.397, p< .01 Contributes to scientific data t= 1.943, p= ns t= 2.350, p< .03 Contributes to the public good t= 1.479, p= ns t= 2.190, p< .04 Can connect me to a community of similar people t= 3.521, p< .01 t= 1.998, p= ns Could be a fun social activity t= 3.496, p< .01 t= 1.334, p= ns Doing my best is motivating t= 1.275, p= ns t= 0.977, p= ns Competing with my peers is motivating t= 2.044, p< .05 t= 1.374, p= ns Earning badges is motivating t= 2.941, p< .01 t= 1.937, p= ns Completing activities is motivating t= 3.264, p< .01 t= 2.289, p< .03