Monday, October 20th, 2014
Institute of Museum and Library Services-Funded Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives to Host Inaugural 2014 Open Webinar

CCLA logoDartmouth_College_logo


Institute of Museum and Library Services-Funded
Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives
to Host Inaugural 2014 Open Webinar

Crowdsourcing 101: Fundamentals and Case Studies” Webinar
on October 29, 12pm EDT.

HANOVER, N.H. – October 20, 2014 –The Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives (CCLA) announced the first in a series of international webinars, titled ‘Crowdsourcing 101: Fundamentals and Case Studies,’ scheduled for October 29 at 12 pm EDT. Crowdsourcing in the humanities is an emerging new area for museums, libraries, and archives. The CCLA was formed earlier this year with an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) award, with the goal to unite leading-edge technology groups in libraries and archives as well as humanities scholars and scholars from the sciences in a conversation about best practices, shared toolsets, and strategies for using crowdsourcing.

The CCLA project was initiated by Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth, who as founding director of Tiltfactor, has extensive experience with crowdsourcing and developing engaging games for prosocial causes. “The idea for the CCLA is to help our community share knowledge and tools across the disciplines,” says Flanagan. “There is a great deal of interest among humanities institutions to learn from science initiatives as well as those new project emerging from traditional humanities areas.”

The CCLA is engaging top experts in the field through a series of regional U.S. meetings, the most recent of which occurred in Boston last month. A culminating national meeting will be held in Washington, DC, in May 2015.

The two planned webinars are part of the first year of the CCLA initiative and will feature internationally recognized experts in crowdsourcing. The webinars will be open and accessible to anyone using crowdsourcing currently, as well as to those who may be  curious about using this technology in libraries and archives in the future. “The webinars will help boost the crowdsourcing conversation to a national and international level,” said Sukdith Punjasthitkul, a project manager at Tiltfactor, who is coordinating the CCLA project.

The October 2014 webinar, moderated and hosted by OCLC, will include the presentations “Crowdsourcing 101” with Open University’s Mia Ridge, and exemplar case studies from NYPLab’s Ben Vershbow and Zooniverse’s Victoria Van Hyning. Participants around the globe will have the opportunity to ask presenters questions at the end of the webinar.

‘Crowdsourcing 101: Fundamentals and Case Studies’ is free and open to the public. For more information about participating in the webinar and to RSVP, visit: Institutions interested in joining the Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives should email:

Follow the Crowd Consortium on Twitter: @crowdconsortium.

Media contacts:

Dartmouth College
Amy D. Olson
Giuliana Bullard


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Tiltfactor Laboratory at Dartmouth College
Tiltfactor Laboratory, a design studio based at Dartmouth College, is dedicated to understanding how games can be used to generate new knowledge. Tiltfactor designs, studies, and launches games, across a variety of platforms and they use psychological principles and strategies to promote learning and impact players’ thoughts and behaviors. Founded and led by Dr. Mary Flanagan, Tiltfactor incorporates fundamental human values and psychological principles to promote pro-social values such as cooperation, perspective taking, empathy, and civic engagement. For more information on this design methodology, see Flanagan’s latest book Values at Play in Digital Games (2014, MIT Press). Visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter via @tiltfactor and @criticalplay.

Friday, May 30th, 2014
Stupid Robot Arrives!

This past week marked the launch of our brand new game in the Metadata Games project: Stupid Robot. In this quick and easy arcade game, players score points by teaching the adorable robot words about the image they are presented with. Players strive to teach it one word of each length, 4-letters long to 10-letters long – but there’s a catch! Stupid Robot doesn’t know every word; it only knows words that other players have already taught it.

“Stupid Robot looks at everything but understands nothing. Can you help? Teach it as much as you can about the image it sees. If you do well, soon Stupid Robot will become Smarty Robot!”

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 4.51.58 PM

As with all games in the Metadata Games project, playing Stupid Robot contributes data to libraries’ and museums’ digital collection, and makes the images in the game more accessible – to everyone: the libraries themselves, researchers, and the public. Play Stupid Robot, save digital artifacts from being lost to time!

Sunday, March 24th, 2013
Tiltfactor Director in Deathmatch Spectacle

This week at the annual Game Developer’s Conference Education Summit, Tiltfactor Director Mary Flanagan has been called out to a ‘Game Design Curriculum Deathmatch,’ where leading game design instructors battle it out by revealing secrets to their game design teaching, their design philosophies, and pedagogical quirks. Speakers include yours truly (Mary), USC Interactive Media Division chair and Game Innovation Lab director Tracy Fullerton, UC Santa Cruz Expressive Intelligence Studio co-director and Expressive Processing author Noah Wardrip-Fruin, and Rules of Play and the Game Design Reader co-author and NYU Game Center professor Eric Zimmerman. The program will be MC’d by designer Justin Hall! Don’t miss it — the session ID is 823443.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Tiltfactor Laboratory receives NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Grant to Expand Metadata Games, Add Other Media Formats

(pdf version)

contact -at- tiltfactor -dot- org
(603) 646-1007

July 31, 2012 (Hanover, NH)The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced that Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan is one of seven award recipients in the endowment’s inaugural Digital Humanities Implementation Grant program. The Digital Humanities Implementation grants “support the implementation of innovative digital humanities projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and demonstrated their value to the field.”

“Games provide a fun way to incorporate the knowledge and enthusiasm of the public with the museums, archives, and libraries around us, and this project is a big step forward in thinking about creating games with national impact,” said Flanagan, “Using crowdsourcing is a rather new idea, but one that we’ve shown to be a success. With this funding, our team can realize the potential for Metadata Games to enhance archives at our nation’s cultural institutions.”

The $324,872, three-year grant will allow Tiltfactor to expand its existing Metadata Games project, a suite of free, open source, internet-based computer games developed by Tiltfactor founder Mary Flanagan in collaboration with Peter Carini, Rauner Library archivist at Dartmouth College. The games help augment access to archival records by harnessing play activity to contribute high quality descriptive information about digital collections held by cultural heritage institutions. This new award will allow the Tiltfactor Lab to develop support for other media formats in addition to the image-based system currently in place. Project advisors include such diverse institutions and organizations as Writtle School of Design, Foundation 9 Entertainment, UC Santa Cruz, The Museum of the City of New York, and the NYPL Labs.

The Metadata Games project can be found at:


301 North Fairbanks – soon to be Black Family VAC
Hanover, NH 03755

Friday, June 1st, 2012
IndieCade Exhibit to Showcase Tiltfactor Laboratory’s ZOMBIEPOX at 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo

(PDF version here)



Tiltfactor Laboratory is pleased to announce that ZOMBIEPOX™ has been selected for the IndieCade showcase at the 2012 annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 5th to June 7th. E3 is presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and is the world’s premier trade show for video game and related industries, with last year’s attendance peaking at 46,800.

IndieCade, known as “the video game industry’s Sundance,” supports and showcases new works within the emerging independent game movement. IndieCade encourages, publicizes, and cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant.

“I’m delighted that IndieCade has taken a liking to our zombies!” Tiltfactor founder and director, Mary Flanagan, noted about the selection. “IndieCade is the best independent game festival out there. We’re part of a historic movement. Good games are beautiful systems, and as we’ve shown in our research, they’re also amazing learning tools.”

ZOMBIEPOX is an evolution of POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE®, which was originally conceived as a game of disease control that came out of a partnership with the Mascoma Valley Health Initiative to stop the spread of misinformation concerning the effects of vaccination.

Previous research at Tiltfactor has found that players can apply concepts and systems thinking learned through playing POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE to problems outside the game. Currently, Tiltfactor is conducting research to examine the gameplay and learning outcomes of ZOMBIEPOX and how the zombie narrative compares with the original POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE game.


301 North Fairbanks
Hanover, NH 03755
(603) 646-1007

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Tiltfactor Director Mary Flanagan to speak at Prominent Art and Game Symposia

(PDF version here)



Dr. Mary Flanagan, director of Tiltfactor Laboratory and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, will deliver several talks this summer and fall on such topics as critical play, games as an art form, and games as a medium for social change. Scheduled venues include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Games for Change Festival, and the IndieCade Conference.

At MoMA, Dr. Flanagan, along with other artists, critics, curators, and scholars, will take part in the Contemporary Art Forum regarding Critical Play. Panelists will take on “The Game as an Art Form,” discussing how games influence art practice, and how they have changed the way audiences engage with and learn from art. The forum will take place on May 17th.

Dr. Flanagan will also deliver a lecture at the Games for Learning Institute Day at the ninth annual Games for Change Festival, the largest games gathering in New York City. Games for Change aims to “catalyze social impact through digital games.” The festival will run from June 18th to June 20th.

In fall, Dr. Flanagan will deliver the keynote address at the IndieCade Conference in Los Angeles. The conference aims to bring together the “freshest, most innovative and creative minds and works in independent game design.” It runs parallel with the IndieCade Festival, the nation’s only stand-alone, independent-focused game event, described as “the videogame industry’s Sundance” by the Los Angeles Times. The conference will take place from the 5th to the 7th of October.

Follow Dr. Flanagan @criticalplay


301 North Fairbanks
Hanover, NH 03755
(603) 443 2725

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Flagella Lookin’ Fly & Mary @ Microsoft

A couple of months back, Microsoft and the Games for Learning Institute(G4LI) challenged the public with the educational holy grail:

“Can you make learning fun?”

Tiltfactor, as the team of intrepid explorers that we are, rose to the challenge, and birthed Flagellla. Flagella was Tiltfactor’s response to Microsoft and G4LI’s task: To create games that can be introduced into schools that address certain curriculum points. Flagella is a flash game that not only addresses the concept of estimation but bundles in a mini-lesson on mutation as a bonus. In that sense it reminded me of the EA game Spore that I thoroughly enjoyed a while ago, but that’s a completely different ballgame.

Last week Mary went to Microsoft to speak on Flagella (among other things) and not to brag, but Flagella was looking mighty fine in the eyes of the Microsoft staff and 300+  faculty attending the Microsoft Faculty Summit.

More to come on Flagella as it mutates before coming into the public eye.

~ Sgt. Erika


Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Tiltfactor going to Gen Con!

Tiltfactor is going to Gen Con this year! Held in Indianapolis, Indiana August 4-7, 2011, Gen Con is “the original, longest running, best attended, gaming convention in the world.”

We will have an exhibit booth, demoing our latest game, the 2nd Edition of POX: SAVE THE PEOPLE, as well as a couple of other surprises. More details to come as we get nearer to Gen Con.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011
a Pox on PAX East!

Tiltfactor continues to represent and engage at PAX East this weekend!

First off,  a panel discussion on Friday with lab director Mary Flanagan on Getting the Most Out of Your Game Education.

Pictured here, playtest sessions for our nearly-released game POX: Save the People with folks in the long lines by lab researcher Sukimon. A great way to pass the time, save lives, etc!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Chris Trottier + gameplay models

At the 2011 Game Developer’s Conference, esteemed designer Chris Trottier assembled advice from her astounding career as a game designer on famed games such as Farmville, The Sims, and others we all know and love. Trottier says there is now, through Facebook, a new portal for a whole slew of players not before accessible. Experiencing the breakthrough new market with The Sims was a precursor to the sea change we are experiencing now with social games.

Designers are finding all kinds of people who didn’t think of themselves as being into games. Trottier calls these “accidental gamers.” Game designers are not used to this challenge– most designers have traditionally designed for those already, at least somewhat, into games. Accidental gamers are different kinds of players and don’t arrive to games “preloaded” to play games.

Trottier then discussed the state of mothers and their own resource management games. As little NPCs with a range of AI states, children themselves play a significant role in the life of some players. When kids melt down, parents deplete resources. (Parental Players might be very angry at the way in which the design of the parental game was tuned!) To Trottier, Moms game during those in between times, such as naptime, often when they are tapped out of energy. Designers could think of games that might pour a proverbial glass of wine at the end of the day, or be charming, or be a friend. She articulated “The Art of Woo,” that is, the way in which a game might in fact court the player with fun, charm, and value.

Trottier articulated the top 10 deal breakers for this demographic in gaming:

–Work to play. Make day one in the play experience very easy and charming — friction free.
–Quick play; the “always lose” Donkey Kong games don’t get people to return.
–Orcs, Dungeons, Castles etc are not necessarily interesting to this demographic
–Pinky Pink is also out. Players are quick to call thing “babyish”
–Rigid timing. Players need to leave and return. “my free time is not predictable.” No tournaments, live events, raid schedules. Rather, appointments one makes with oneself are ok – there is a big buffer. Think maturity of various crops in Farmville.
–Stuck Points. A strategic choice to make a large challenge is often a hemmorage point with these games.
–Strangers. Strangers are “a little freaky.” Best of Breed designers, thought, have thought in interesting ways about this. Strangers can act weird and talk like they are in secret clubs. For 40 year old accidental gamers, its off-putting.
–Gagetry – multiple button stuff isn’t all that interesting. For interfaces, each piece of information adds a reason not to engage.
–The mere scent of a right/wrong choice is a problem. That might be something very simple, such as  “Would you like to be an Elf or an Orc.” That kind of decision feels like a big deal to those not really into games. In Farmville, there were three types of goods to make. Bakery, Spa, or Winery. This feels like a heavy decision. When faced with a possibly large-seeming choice. players become stuck. If designers, however, post  “how many of your friends have chosen that specialty” etc.,  the roadblock  is cleared.
–3D camera. 3D navigation. These are not a priority way to spend time.
Trottier’s Top “Turn-Ons”
–Draw people into social-style games by thinking about their real world value to the player. To many adults and especially a “mom’ demographic, time spent for yourself is a guilty pleasure… What are the things you can do in the game to make a player say “I was really glad I spent my time here.” Fun is not enough. ‘Relaxes me’ is a clearer value. If it is good for me (Wii Fit or BrainAge). Farmville players felt really good about contributing to Haiti relief. Players report feeling more connected to their friends, family, and colleagues in a survey of players in 2010.
Creative outlet–keep connected–good for others — good for me — relaxes me — fun.
–It is hard to beat a satisfying deco (decoration, design) play.
–Keep evolving. Dev people need to keep pace with player curiosity. Things that keep surprising the player, and help them feel like anything is possible. When your first Sim dies and they come back as a ghost – these kind of pleasant surprises go a long way. Make existing mechanics new, or engage with a different aspect. Same core, different twist.
–Deeper Mechanics. Players put themselves into the game. There is real opportunity for growth - how to add features over time that are fresh, that are more than the sum of their parts. Deeper mechanics: when, and how much. Grow the experience for players.
–Real World Fantasy. The classic gamer fantasy is other worldly, armageddon, outer space, etc. For the mass market… well, as players, our own world is infinitely large, fantastic and relevant. Avatars can look like a cuter version of the player because that’s what is relevant. Fantasy is real life and a costume party. Make use of attractive stylistic outfits.

–Allow players to express their desires: to host a Beauty Pageant, or Over the top Christmas Decorations in Farmville
–The game should reflect ‘my people.’ The people we know in real life are more interesting to us than other characters we are going to come up with. Has amazing potential to really hit a nerve. Social network people are free aspects of the game.
–Leader boards never meant anything to Trottier until she saw Leader boards with personal information with friends.
–Big Deal Milestones. Fictionally, such as first dates, first kiss, weddings, having babies, getting promoted.
–Wanting, getting, having. Wanting it for a while. Working hard and getting it. It means a lot. Sometimes, soial games don’t let Trottier want long enough. In early days of Farmville, she was very motivated by the simple act of unlocking the crops. She really wanted to see what the next crop is like. Once she got the Corn, it was totally worth it; it was really beautiful. The reward has to be something she can actually want. Should be tied to game, not the trophy route vs vintage roadside signs. Collecting the signs is DEEPLY motivating, give a new crop sign offered for a limited time. To her, it is all about the content.
–Core Action. What is the endeavour? How satisfying is it. Quests work so well in Farmville because life can be governed by checklists and it is a natural way of tracking progress.

__Simple pleasures- when your game is clever, charming, adorable. Where play is irresistible. In her talk, Trottier confessed a  love for the little forklift in Social City. “When the Sim pees on the floor. When the Sims slap someone.” If these actions could happen, what else might happen?
__Yummy on the eyes – being attractive does not hurt. The kinds of games people are drawn to are stylized, with humor or a point of view. Chuzzle from Popcap is charming, and it is easy to know what to do, and witty. Gorgeous, juicy, happy. Beautiful crops is a huge huge part of the success of Farmville.
__Make game feel good to click. Juicy moments. Pleasurable clicks. Response.

Goal Adjectives:  satisfying, relaxing, expressive, intriguing, unstressed, intuitive, rewarding, useful, charming rewarding and worthwhile over time, feel good about it.