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]


The Apetopia game helps determining perceived color differences. Players choices are used to model better color metrics.[5]


Artigo[6] is a Web platform currently offering six artwork annotation games as well as an art work search engine in English, French, and German. Three of Artigo's games, the ARTigo game, ARTigo Taboo, and TagATag, are variations[7] of Luis von Ahn's ESP game (later Google Image Labeler). Three other games of the Artigo platform, Karido,[8] Artigo-Quiz, and Combino, have been conceived so as to complement the data collected by the three afore-mentioned ESP game variations.[9][10] Artigo's search engine relies on an original tensor latent semantic analysis.[10][11]

As of September 2013, Artigo had over 30,000 (pictures of) artworks mostly of Europe and of the "long 19th century", from the Promotheus Image Archive,[12] the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherland, the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany, the University Museum of Contemporary Art, campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. From 2008 through 2013, Artigo has collected over 7 million of tags (mostly in German), 180,000 players (about a tenth of whom are registered), and in average 150 players per day.[13]

Artigo is a joint research endeavor of art historians and computer scientists aiming at both, developing an art work search engine and data analysis in art history.

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: 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.


EyeWire is a game for finding the connectome of the retina.[14]


Main article: Foldit

Crowdsourcing has been gamified in games like Foldit, a game designed by the University of Washington, in which players compete to manipulate proteins into more efficient structures. A 2010 paper in science journal Nature credited Foldit's 57,000 players with providing useful results that matched or outperformed algorithmically computed solutions.[15]

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.


JeuxDeMots[16] 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.



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.[17] The game was developed by Markus Krause at the University of Bremen.

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.[18] It was developed by academics Jon Chamberlain, Massimo Poesio and Udo Kruschwitz at the University of Essex.


Main article: Phylo video game

The Phylo video game[19] 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".

Play to Cure: Genes in Space[edit]

Play to Cure™: Genes in Space is a mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data to to help with cancer research.[20]

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.[21] 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.

Reverse The Odds[edit]

Reverse The Odds is a mobile based game which helps researchers learn about analyzing cancers.


In the browser-based game Smorball, Players are asked to type the words they see as quickly and accurately as possible to help their team to victory in the fictional sport of Smorball. The game presents players with phrases from scanned pages in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. After verification, the words players type are sent to the libraries that store the corresponding pages, allowing those pages to be searched and data mined and ultimately making historic literature more usable for institutions, scholars, educators, and the public. The game was developed by Tiltfactor Lab.

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.[22]

Wikidata Game[edit]

The Wikidata Game represents a gamification approach to let users help resolve questions regarding persons, images etc. and thus automatically edit the corresponding data items in Wikidata, the structured knowledge repository supporting Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, the other Wikimedia projects, and more.[23][24]


ZombiLingo is a French game where players are asked to find the right head (a word or expression) to gain brains and become a more and more degraded zombie. While playing, they in fact annotate syntactic relations in French corpora.[25] It was designed and developed by researchers from LORIA and Université Paris-Sorbonne.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Posted by Luis von Ahn (2008-05-13). "GWAP Blog: May 2008". Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  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. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ François Bry and Christoph Wieser. Squaring and Scripting the ESP Game: Trimming a GWAP to Deep Semantics. Proc. of the International Conference on Serious Games Development and Applications (SGDA), Bremen, Germany, 26–29 September 2012
  8. ^ Bartholomäus Steinmayr, Christoph Wieser, Fabian Kneißl, and François Bry. Karido: A GWAP for Telling Artworks Apart. Proc. of 16th International Conference on Computer Games (CGAMES2011), Louisville, KY, USA, 27th - 30th July, 2011 (Best Paper Award)
  9. ^ Christoph Wieser, François Bry, Alexandre Bérard, and Richard Lagrange. ARTigo: Building an Artwork Search Engine With Games and Higher-Order Latent Semantic Analysis. Proc. of Disco 2013, Workshop on Human Computation and Machine Learning in Games at the International Conference on Human Computation (HComp), Palm Springs, California, USA, 6th - 9th November, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Christoph Wieser. Building a Semantic Search Engine with Games and Crowdsourcing. Doctoral Thesis, Institute for Informatics, University of Munich, 2014
  11. ^ Philipp Shah, Christoph Wieser, and François Bry Parallel Higher-Order SVD for Tag-Recommendations. Proc. of the International Conference WWW/Internet 2012, Madrid, Spain, 18th-21st October, 2012
  12. ^
  13. ^ Artigo Blog (in German)
  14. ^
  15. ^ John Markoff (10 August 2010). "In a Video Game, Tackling the Complexities of Protein Folding". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "JeuxDeMots – The game for collecting words". 2014-06-15. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  17. ^ "OnToGalaxy". Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "Phrase Detectives – The AnaWiki annotation game". 2011-09-09. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Lisa Grossman. Computer Game Makes You a Genetic Scientist . Wired, November 30, 2010
  20. ^ "Play to Cure: Genes in Space". Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "Do Science at Home". Department of Physics and Astronom, Aarhus University. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Train Robots – Robot Commands Annotation Game". 2013-08-30. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  23. ^ Magnus Manske (20 May 2014). "The Game Is On". Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Gerard Meijssen (26 May 2014). "#Wikidata - the game". Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  25. ^ "ZombiLingo". 2015-03-21. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 

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