Repurposing Citizen Science Games as Software Tools for Professional Scientists

FDG. 2018 Aug:2018:39. doi: 10.1145/3235765.3235770.


Scientific software is often developed with professional scientists in mind, resulting in complex tools with a steep learning curve. Citizen science games, however, are designed for citizen scientists- members of the general public. These games maintain scientific accuracy while placing design goals such as usability and enjoyment at the forefront. In this paper, we identify an emerging use of game-based technology, in the repurposing of citizen science games to be software tools for professional scientists in their work. We discuss our experience in two such repurposings: Foldit, a protein folding and design game, and Eyewire, a web-based 3D neuron reconstruction game. Based on this experience, we provide evidence that the software artifacts produced for citizen science can be useful for professional scientists, and provide an overview of key design principles we found to be useful in the process of repurposing.

Keywords: citizen science; design; games; repurposing.