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ISSUE 12 - May 2012

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Astronomy Week in Madeira, Portugal (pages 28-33)
J. S. S. van ‘t Woud, J. A. C. Sandberg, B. J. Wielinga

Key Words
Mars, Crowdsourcing, Serious Gaming, Citizen Scientist


This article discusses the use of crowdsourcing in a serious game. A computer game, called Cerberus, which allows players to tag surface features on Mars, has been developed. Developing the game has allowed us to investigate the effects of different help levels in supporting the transfer of knowledge, and also how changing the game features can affect the quality of the gaming experience. The performance of the players is measured in terms of precision and motivation. Precision reflects the quality of the work done and motivation is represented by the amount of work done by the players. Games with an explicit help function combined with a “rich gaming experience” resulted in significantly more motivation among the players than games with an implicit help function combined with a “poor gaming experience”. There was no significant difference in the precision achieved under different game conditions, but it was high enough to generate Martian maps exposing aeolian processes, surface layering, river meanders and other concepts. The players were able to assimilate deeper concepts about Martian geology, and the data from the games were of such high quality that they could be used to support scientific research.