Game with a Purpose

According to a survey from the Entertainment Software Association people in the U.S. spend more than 200 million hours a day playing computer and video games. We play video games for hundreds of different reasons, but we can usually agree on one thing: they’re fun. It’s an entertainment and in a lot of cases a nice way to escape into a new fantasy world or a mystery adventure or even a world of Angry Birds. Citizen Sort has kept this important feature and added a purpose.

Define the term

Games with a Purpose (GWAPs) are video games that also “help the world become a better place,” according to the GWAP website. The games on the site are deigned to train computers to solve problems for humans all over the world. Gaming with a purpose extends far past the site however. Research shows that people play video games with a purpose firstly for the entertainment. In the article Designing Games with a Purpose, Luis von Ahn and Laura Dabbish examine the motivations behind gaming with a purpose. From the user’s perspective, one of the main reasons to play is for entertainment. As in most games, the desire to reach to goal and achieve keeps bringing the user back to play. Ahn and Dabbish conclude that Games with a Purpose also need to keep the player’s enjoyment in mind when designing the video game.

Citizen Sort Games

Games have the power to do more than entertain. Playing the Citizen Sort video games will add an extra purpose to your daily routine. The more entertainment tools are Happy Match! and Forgotten Island, both coming soon. These games mix technical classifications with stunning gameplay. In the versions of Happy Match! the user will categorize photos of an animal, insect or plant based on questions scientists actually care about. The classifications will provide real data to current scientific projects. The game isn’t all citizen science and no play.  Happy Match! comes with competition, collaboration and of course beautiful photography. Scientists or researchers take thousands of photographs of their area of concentration. That means thousands of photos of plants, animals or insects. No scientist can sort through and classify all these images on his or her own, and that is where the citizen scientist comes in. Look through the set of photographs in Happy Match! and examine colors, shapes, flowers, patterns and many more. At the end of each round, you will receive a score. You can share it on the universal scoreboard and even share it via social media to friends. Compete and see who would make the best citizen scientist.

Forgotten Island leverages the power of storytelling and fantasy to encourage citizen science. Immerse yourself into the mystery, the puzzles and the robots. You will explore the island after the explosion at the biology lab all while doing a little classification on the side. With your handy atomic classifier, the more you classify the more you participate in citizen science plus the more you can explore the hidden passageways and top peaks of the Forgotten Island.


Citizen Sort is a research project at Syracuse University. Helping biologists and ecologists with classification tasks is one of the goals. The other is to help information scientists analyze the motivation for citizen science. By answering a brief survey, anonymously, you will help Citizen Sort and other scientists study the different motivations and reasons for  becoming a citizen scientist. Your answers will not only help the project but also future citizen science endeavors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s