An Open Source Electronic Game for Archival Data Systems
In our work with the Digital Humanities Start Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), we have created a working example of a free, open source, internet‐based computer game system for augmenting access to archival records. We have developed a suite of minigames for the collection of metadata, initially for the Rauner Library at Dartmouth College. This project is a pilot for a larger open source initiative that will allow other institutions to use the games in their archives. Examples of metadata games include:
- is our simplest game– actually, a naming activity — where participants just name what they see. For some reason, it is a compelling activity for the public and the team alike!
- is a two-player game where players have to choose an image from an array of images based on clues sent to them by the networked partner. The partner sees only one image and what their partner is guessing.
Increasingly, archivists across the US recognize that the mission of the archival institution is not only the acquisition, storage, description, and preservation of historical materials. The need to make the archive accessible – to provide usable tools and quality access to the material across members of society—is a dominant mission for many of today’s archivists. Having a suite of games enables database managers to custom link to the most effective and appropriate game front ends for their data.
Our interdisciplinary team specializes in both archives management and in creating innovative and popular digital tools and games. Digital systems can allow for collaboration, searching, and linking, and these features could enhance the ability of researchers to find data currently obscured by lack of description. “Alum Tag,” for example, was designed to add metadata to a large collection of photographs donated by Dartmouth alumni to the college’s archives.
How can the strengths of current digital tools enhance the environment and the collection of the archive? Can our team harness the power of both technology and ‘crowds’ of individual researchers to help solve the challenges faced by archivists in representing their data with rich meta‐tags? Can the use of player choice enhance access to the archive, and at the same time, offer surprise, coincidence, provenance, and the discovery of new relationships?
Contact us if you wish to participate in building or testing new games or new features! We love collaborators!
ARTICLES AND REVIEWS
- Groves, Kaylyn. “Metadata Games Crowdsources Data Collection through Gaming.” Association of Research Libraries, January 24, 2014.
- Zeamer, Vicky. “Using games to collect metadata: Introducing Metadata Games.” Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) blog, January 23, 2014.
- “Game adds metadata to digital collections,” The Dartmouth, January 22, 2014.
- “Tiltfactor presents Metadata Games: Mobile!” Press Release, January 22, 2014.
- Flanagan, M., Punjasthitkul, S., Seidman, M., Kaufman, G. and Carini, P. “Citizen Archivists at Play: Game Design for Gathering Metadata for Cultural Heritage Institutions.” Proceedings of DiGRA 2013, Atlanta, Georgia, August 2013.
- Owens, Trevor. “The Metadata Games Crowdsourcing Toolset for Libraries & Archives: An Interview with Mary Flanagan.” The Signal Digital Preservation blog, Library of Congress. April 3, 2013.
- Flanagan, Mary & Carini, Peter (2012). “How games can help us access and understand cultural artifacts.” American Archivist 75(2), pp 514-537.
- Marre, Vickie. “Playing Games with Metadata.” Weigle Information Commons blog, University of Pennsylvania. September 4, 2012.
- Lifson, Amy. “Noteworthy: Save the Data!” Humanities 32.4, August 2011, 52.
- Hoffmann, Leah. “Games and Learning: Seven Questions for Mary Flanagan.” Communications of the ACM, July 5, 2011.
- Doallas, Maureen. “Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours).” Writing Without Paper, June 18, 2011.
- Natriello, Gary. “Gaming PK?” EdLab, May 25, 2011.
- Richards, Barbara. “Digital game helps tag College photo archives.” The Dartmouth, May 25, 2011.
- Mattera, Alexis. “Dartmouth’s New Metadata Game Makes Tagging Archives Fun.” Scholarships.com, May 24, 2011.
- “Dartmouth Creates Game to Tag Archival Gems.” History News Network, May 24, 2011.
- Howard, Jennifer. “Gaming the Archives.” The Chronicle of Higher Education May 23, 2011.
- Sullivan, Adam. “Can Videogames Help Kids?” WCAX News, September 29, 2009.
- Beja, Marc. “Labeling Library Archives Is a Game at Dartmouth College.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2009.
- Designers: Mary Flanagan, Zara Downs
- Collaborator: Peter Carini, Rauner Archive
- Dartmouth Student Designers: Linden Vongsathorn, Brendan Scully, Cole Ott
- Dartmouth Student Game Testers: Alicia Driscoll, Max Seidman
- Content Specialist: Peter Carini, College Archivist, Rauner Library
- Programming: Vincent Van Ufflen, Robinson Tryon; Additional Programming: Sukdith Punjasthitkul; Prototype: Joshua Weinberg
- General Support and Project Coordination: Sukdith Punjasthitkul, Furtherfield.org
- Game Programming: Robinson Tryon, Vincent Van Ufflen, Joshua Weinberg, Charlie Whitney, and Cecile Williams
- Advisory Board:
Brian Brantner – Computer Scientist at Adobe Systems
Dr. Drew Davidson – Entertainment Technology Center Program Director, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University
Tracy Fullerton—Associate Professor and Chair, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division; Director, Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab; and EA Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment
Dr. Celia Pearce—Director, Experimental Game Lab, School of Literature, Communication & Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology
* Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed on this web page do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.