Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Making Behavioral Science Better: Gamification

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Simulations, Brain, Science & Society, Citizen Science, Nature of Science

In  Nature Comment (17 January 2023) there is a multiple authored essay on how games can make behavioral science better. It is assigned a 13 m reading time, which is long but it includes the history of gamification, future steps, critique, i.e., ups and downs, how to get into it, and comments on game theory.

From the article I include a few samples.

First Paragraph

"When US cognitive scientist Joshua Hartshorne was investigating how people around the world learn English, he needed to get tens of thousands of people to take a language test. He designed 'Which English', a grammar game that presented a series of tough word problems and then guessed where in the world the player learnt the language. Participants shared their results — whether accurate or not — on social media, creating a snowball effect for recruitment. The findings, based on data from almost 670,000 people, revealed that there is a ‘critical period’ for second-language learning that extends into adolescence."

Ups and Downs

"Gamified experiments have clear weaknesses. Many scientists are used to having total control over their lab environments: they can observe participants’ behavior directly during experiments and check that people are who they say. Critics might be wary of losing this control, or might worry that people will not engage fully with the tests or will warp results by faking their identities, completing games multiple times or participating maliciously using Internet bots.

"These criticisms can be partly assuaged."

Last Paragraph

"In 1986, the sociologist Lee Sproull suggested that researchers consider 'a new tool for data collection — electronic mail'. Decades after her work on what might be the earliest web-based study, collecting data on the Internet is powerful and routine. Gamified science has not yet reached such widespread acceptance, but we think it can, should and will.

Check the article before taking on one or more of the games to try out. You can learn about their purpose before you play. 

The games are also linked in the article and each is briefly described: Which English? ---  Are You a Super Listener? --- Glyph --- Moral Machine --- Visual Vocab.

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