Human-based computation game

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A human-based computation game or game with a purpose (GWAP[1]) is a human-based computation technique in which a computational process performs its function by outsourcing certain steps to humans in an entertaining way.[2][3] This approach uses differences in abilities and alternative costs between humans and computer agents to achieve symbiotic human–computer interaction. These tasks can include labelling images to improve web searching, transcription of ancient text (where OCR software faces a script they are not optimized for and degraded or damaged images) and any activity requiring common sense or human experience. Recently, video games with a purpose have been proposed to lower the cost of annotations and increase the level of player's engagement.[4]

ESP Game[edit]

Main article: ESP Game

The first example was the ESP Game, an effort in human computation originally conceived by Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University, which labels images. To make it an entertaining effort for humans, two players attempt to assign the same labels to an image. The game records the results of matches as image labels and the players enjoy the encounter because of the competitive and timed nature of it. To ensure that people do their best to accurately label the images, the game requires two people (chosen at random and unknown to each other), who have only the image in common, to choose the same word as an image label. This discourages vandalism because it would be self-defeating as a strategy.


Main article: Foldit

Foldit, while also a GWAP, has a different type of method for tapping the collective human brain. This game challenges players to use their human intuition of 3-dimensional space to help with protein folding algorithms. Unlike the ESP Game which focuses on the results that humans are able to provide, Foldit is trying to understand how humans approach complicated 3 dimensional objects. By 'watching' how humans play the game, researchers hope to be able to improve their own computer programs. Instead of simply performing tasks that computers cannot do, this gwap is asking humans to help make current machine algorithms better.


Main article: EteRNA

EteRNA is a game in which players attempt to design RNA sequences that fold into a given configuration. The widely varied solutions from players, often non-biologists, are evaluated to improve computer models predicting RNA folding. Some designs are actually synthesized to evaluate the actual folding dynamics and directly compare with the computer models.


Main article: Phylo video game

The Phylo video game allows gamers to contribute to the greater good by trying to decode the code for genetic diseases. While playing the game and aligning the colored squares, one is helping the scientific community get a step closer to solving the age-old problem of multiple sequence alignment. The problem of multiple sequence alignment is too big for computers to handle. The goal is to understand how and where the function of an organism is encoded in the DNA. The game explains that "a sequence alignment is a way of arranging the sequences of DNA, RNA or protein to identify regions of similarity".


JeuxDeMots[5] is a game aiming to build a large Semantic network. People are asked to associate terms according to some instructions they are prompted. It was developed by academics Mathieu Lafourcade and Alain Joubert at the Laboratoire d'Informatique, de Robotique et de Microélectronique de Montpellier/Montpellier 2 University.

Phrase Detectives[edit]

Phrase Detectives is an "annotation game" geared towards lovers of literature, grammar and language. It lets users indicate relationships between words and phrases to create a resource that is rich in linguistic information. Players are awarded with points for their contributions and are featured on a leader board.[6] It was developed by academics Jon Chamberlain, Massimo Poesio and Udo Kruschwitz at the University of Essex.

Train Robots[edit]

Train Robots is an annotation game similar to Phrase Detectives. Players are shown pairs of before/after images of a robot arm and blocks on a board, and asked to enter commands to instruct the robot to move from the first configuration to the second. The game collects natural language data for training linguistic and robotic processing systems.[7]


OnToGalaxy is a game in which players help to acquire common sense knowledge about words. As implemented as a space shooter OnToGalaxy in its design quite different from other human computation games.[8] The game was developed by Markus Krause at the University of Bremen.


EyeWire is a game for finding the connectome of the retina.[9]


Artigo[10] is an artwork annotation game similar to the google image labeler developed at the University of Munich

Quantum Moves[edit]

Quantum Moves is a dexterity and spatial problem solving game, where players move slippery particles across quantum space. Players' solutions on various levels are used to program and fine tune a real quantum computer at Aarhus University.[11] The game was first developed as a graphical interface for quantum simulation and education in 2012. In 2013 it was released to the public in a user friendly form, and has been continually updated throughout 2014.


The Apetopia game helps determining perceived color differences. Players choices are used to model better color metrics.[12]

Play to Cure: Genes in Space[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Posted by Luis von Ahn (2008-05-13). "GWAP Blog: May 2008". Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Luis von Ahn (June 2006). "Games With A Purpose" (PDF). IEEE Computer Magazine: 96–98. 
  3. ^ Luis von Ahn and Laura Dabbish (August 2008). "Designing Games With A Purpose" (PDF). Communications of the ACM 51 (8/08): 57. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378719. 
  4. ^ D. Vannella, D. Jurgens, D. Scarfini, D. Toscani, R. Navigli. Validating and Extending Semantic Knowledge Bases using Video Games with a Purpose. Proc. of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2014), Baltimore, USA, June 22-27, 2014, pp. 1294-1304.
  5. ^ "JeuxDeMots – The game for collecting words". 2014-06-15. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "Phrase Detectives – The AnaWiki annotation game". 2011-09-09. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Train Robots – Robot Commands Annotation Game". 2013-08-30. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "OnToGalaxy". Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Do Science at Home". Department of Physics and Astronom, Aarhus University. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  12. ^

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