[DPLAfest Follow-up] Using games to collect metadata: Introducing Metadata Games

By DPLA, January 23, 2014.
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On January 22nd, Tiltfactor Laboratory launched Metadata Games: Mobile, a digital game platform for gathering useful data on image, audio, and moving image artifacts. Metadata Games seeks to increase access to humanities content while contributing to vital records, and further enables archivists, librarians, data scientists and a slew of other people to gather and analyze information for archives in powerful and innovative ways. Two new mobile games for both Android and iOS include the single-player “Pyramid Tag,” which has players race the clock to match popular tags for images; and “One Up,” a two-player game where players ‘one up’ each other with increasingly detailed tags.

At DPLAfest this past October, Tiltfactor’s Geoff Kaufman and Max Seidman presented a breakout session and a lightning demonstration respectively. After these presentations, many attendees approached the Tiltfactor team inquiring how their institutions could use Metadata Games, asked questions about the theory behind the project, and suggested new uses for the software.

User suggestions further highlighted how important the search function would be for allowing the public to interface with media artifacts in novel ways.  Between feedback from participants and being exposed to all the other great work that is going on, the team came back to the lab with new purpose: the Metadata Games system isn’t just for collecting metadata – it’s about filling the important need of facilitating public access to digital media artifacts, a need the team only recognized by attending DPLAfest.

After DPLAfest, Tiltfactor worked to overhaul the Metadata Games system in accordance with user comments and requests. Additionally, the feedback from the Pyramid Tag lightning session had a strong impact on the final game. Many of players expressed their frustration over trying to match so called “expert” tags that the players felt were vague and stupid answers. This led the team to make a Pyramid Tag spin-off game called “Stupid Robot.” Stupid Robot is a browser remake of Pyramid Tag where the player is framed as trying to teach “Stupid Robot” how to understand the world, instead of trying to match “experts.” However, the fact that all of the participants also had fun, despite the annoyance of the narrative also led the team to pursue Pyramid Tag (with an adjusted narrative) for iOS release in the mean time, and it is now up in the App Store.

The feedback from DPLAfest, specifically in the form of the Stupid Robot game and the enhanced search functionality, was crucial to the development of Metadata Games and Tiltfactor Laboratory is excited to release these changes to Metadata Games on January 22, 2014.

Metadata Games is a free and open source software (FOSS) developed by Tiltfactor at Dartmouth College, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

For more information on the project, please visit http://www.metadatagames.org.

DPLA Editor’s Note: Metadata Games is fueled in part by digital materials contained in the Boston Public Library and Clemson University, two contributing institutions to DPLA via the Service Hub in their state/region, Digital Commonwealth (Massachusetts) and the South Carolina Digital Library.

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