|Title:||Playing with Difficult Objects—Game Designs to Improve Museum Collections|
|Publication:||MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011|
Crowdsourcing data through games is an attractive proposition for museums looking to maximise use of their collections online without the requirement to commit intensive curatorial resources to enhancing catalogue records. This paper investigates the optimum game designs to encourage participation and the generation of useful data.
Projects such as Armchair Revolutionary, Carnegie Mellon University's 'Games with a purpose' and InterroBang?! are indicative of the trend for 'games for social good'. Crowdsourced projects such as the Guardian newspapers examination of MPs expense claims, the V&A Museum's image cropping, Brooklyn Museum's tagging game, the National Library of Australia's collaborative OCR corrections; Chen's study of the application of Csikszentmihalyi's theory of 'flow' to game design; and McGonigal's ideas about multiplayer games as 'happiness engines' all suggest that 'playful interactions' and crowd participation could be applied to help create specific content improvements on museum sites. Game mechanisms may help make tasks that would not traditionally be considered fun or relaxing into a compelling experience.
Games designed to crowdsource museum metadata are particularly interesting when limited resources within museums make it difficult to enhance and publish large bodies of collections data in ways that are accessible to non-specialist visitors. Further, museum metadata games are a form of collections access in their own right and have the potential to reach large, traditionally hard-to-reach audiences. Data generated may include terms to improve discoverability by adding alternate terms used by the general public (as in the steve.museum project); information about which objects are more interesting for different types of visitors; data that could be provided by curators and researchers if resources were unlimited but could also be solicited from specialists outside the museum; and experiential data for objects and events within living memory.
Based on a Masters Dissertation project ('Game mechanics for social good: a case study on interaction models for crowdsourcing museum collections enhancement', http://openobjects.blogspot.com/2010/06/game-mechanics-for-social-good-case.html, due January 2011) this paper will cover three topics:
Games built with collections from museums of social history and history of science and technology will be available at http://museumgam.es/ from mid-October.