However, we focused our presentation more in a brief historical context of the notion of Citizen Science (CS) through some local and international examples. We argued that the term was not new even though its interaction with social media is (Facebook, Twitter). We stated a particular classification –by Bruno J. Strasser-‐ of citizen science participation, that we all discussed in class and it came into the conclusion that even though this classification was rightful, it was not complete. Finally, and while developing open questions for the presentation, we used the term Gamification. And the question we stayed was: “Is Gamification useful?”
A brief definition of Gamification is: “The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service”- oxforddictionaries.com
While exploring Internet for accurate examples of Citizen Science, we found diverse types of models; in some of them the concept of gamification was more obvious. The example I chose was the “Projekt Roadkill” which is based on users’ reports of death animals on the roads. The user should take a picture, and upload it online on the platform with location added. All the collected information fosters a map, which indicates both travelers and zoologists the places to have special care while driving or where to develop animal conservation initiatives, respectively. Even though in this project there are not point scoring or competition initiatives; due to the sensible character of the project, since in general it is not a pleasant view to find an animal killed on the road and could be disturbing for some people, the platform is designed in a very interactive and easy to follow place. The user uploads his data and then can see how a place (a flag) is assigned in the map. The more data the users collect the more complete and useful the map will be. It is a challenge, and the users understand that gamification rule in that way.
On the website citizencyberlab.eu, also recognizes the big challenges of getting gamification ‘right’. The importance of a proper design of the game elements so that they are implemented in a way that is meaningful to the users, gamification has to be taken seriously, by also understanding the needs of the users since any of them also has particular motivations to participate. Alike in any other game, the creators have to think in advance all the possible circumstances that might emerge during the game, they should anticipate for possible questions and doubts, and following pattern they should design “The game rules”. I guess that one of the main successful tools for projects like Roadkill is the straightforward directions, as well as the purpose of data collection, answers to questions as “How can I contribute to animal protection with my data collection?” “Who analyzes the data and how is it analyzed?” among others. There is also the possibility of having a personal profile in the website or also users can post it anonymously. Another interesting example I have found was the website Aurorasaurus Project. The aim of this project is to collect auroral observations to further improve the modeling of the aurora and the auroral visibility nowcasting. MacDonald, 2015. There is an interesting point in the paper where the developers described the way they deal with the scientific and technical language. They are aware of the vast diversity in backgrounds of the users and also the complex that to explain the aurora phenomena might be. So, they try to use a not-‐to complex physics’ concepts but also encourage the users to learn more in some excerpts of the website.
Curtis 2014, remarks that with the rise of the Internet new opportunities to create citizen science have been developing. Some of these have been online Citizen Science games where complex research problems have been re-‐imagined as online multiplayer computer games. One of the most successful examples is for instance Foldit, which was already mentioned in class by a colleague, and it is often cited as a successful example of gamification in Citizen Science: volunteers playing the protein-‐folding game were able to devise new strategies for developing proteins which had previously been undiscovered by computational methods -‐citizencyberlab.eu. After my briefly research in gamification and Citizen Science, I agree in the enormous advantages that might bring to use the concept of games for rising the public interest and valuable contribution to Science.