Gamification as a different mode for engagement

Gamification as a different mode for engagement
by Trinity College Dublin

‘Gamification’ is a perhaps self explanatory term that generally refers to how repetitive tasks can be made more engaging by supplementing them with markers of achievement or wrapping them in a game-like frame.  This is a way of addressing the need to continue to motivate contributors to maintain their interest in and contribution to the project.

As can probably be guessed, the term can cover a very wide range of different practices.  That said, gamification as it is used in cultural heritage projects can generally be broken down into a few models.

Incentives and recognition.Participants in projects will often be involved in performing repetitive tasks, most commonly transcription or verification of transcribed text.  By giving participants a sense of their own progress or achievements, projects can incentivise their contributors to continue. Badges or status levels (often somewhat tongue-in-cheek ones), progress bars, rankings or levels all give a contributor a sense of achieving something with their participation.  The ‘Transcribe Bentham’ project used this approach by incorporating a ‘Benthmometer’ and a user leaderboard into their site.

Rewards and Challenges.In other models, virtual currency or goods can be assigned, or particular challenges can be built in at certain times to make repetitive tasks more engaging overall.  This model is similar to one described above, but changes over time, and may be useful in extended projects, where occasional changes may make the experience more fresh for the users.

Game-like interaction.  A much more intensive model of gamification makes interaction with the material not just feel like it has results like a game, but look and feel like a game.  This is a less common model, as it is more resource intensive to design and build, but the ultimate result can be very fresh and motivating. For example, the Finnish National Library developed a game called ‘DigitalKoot’ to encourage people to verify transcriptions of historic typefaces by clicking in blocks to build bridges for a mole to cross rivers.