Many tasks are trivial for humans but continue to challenge even the most sophisticated computer programs. Traditional computational approaches to solving such problems focus on improving artificial intelligence algorithms. Here, we advocate a different approach: the constructive channeling of human brainpower through computer games. Toward this goal, we present general design principles for the development and evaluation of a class of games we call “games with a purpose,” or GWAPs, in which people, as a side effect of playing, perform tasks computers are unable to perform.
A paper from Yahoo researchers, Thumbs-Up: A Game for Playing to Rank Search Results, describes a game that they developed and tested internally at Yahoo to allow participants to compete against each other in ranking how relevant pages are for specific search queries.
To play the game, players start by logging in, and are randomly matched with another player.
They are shown the same query term or phrase, and images of two web pages that are supposed to be relevant for the query. To score points, the players have to agree on the same page as being the most relevant for the query.
This is similar to the ESP game developed a few years back to tag images, which the Google Image Labeler game is based upon.
The paper quoted at the start of this post is cited in the Yahoo paper, and is co-written by Luis von Ahn, who was behind the development of the ESP game. He describes a number of other games with a purpose that have been developed since.
Would you play “Thumbs-Up” if Yahoo released it to the public?