Research Directions for Pushing Harnessing Human Computation to Mainstream Video Games

Peter Jamieson, Lindsay Grace and Jack Hall

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2008 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2012 Special Issue of the Journal of Games and Culture. Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


In this paper, we propose a research direction that will allow the harnessing of human computation to be included in mainstream video games. Human computing resources are vastly different and superior in some cases compared to traditional computing machines. Previous findings in this domain showed that humans playing FoldIt, a protein folding video game, created new solutions to the problem that were previously unknown. Successes like these suggest that harnessing human computation through games can provide our society with a new computation resource, but existing games in this domain tend to be built around the problem. This means a large population of game players remains unharnessed. We, however, hypothesize that focusing research efforts on the synergy of understanding isomorphing problems, identifying problem solving behavior in mainstream video games, and an understanding of real-world problems is a direction that will allow us to merge harnessing human computation into these mainstream games.