Improving Citizen Science Games through Open Analytics Data

Video game developers make heavy use of “metrics” (or “analytics”) in order to understand the players’ actions. This serves to improve the games by identifying weaknesses in their design, such as sections of the games that are too difficult, or never explored. While such data may be of great interest to scientists and the public at large, it is rarely, if ever, publicly available.

Specifically, for scientific games, in which players contribute to the advancement of science through their actions in a game, learn scientific concepts, or both, this represents a missed opportunity for the public to learn from the data that they and their fellow players are generating.

In this paper, we introduce RedMetrics, an open source solution to support both collection and open publication of game metrics for scientific purposes. Inspired by the belief that anyone can contribute to science, all data gathered by the service is freely and immediately available online.

RedMetrics can gather data from any platform (web, PC, console, etc.) and store it on an open repository. The data is available via a web API as well as a web application. To ease integration, we provide interfaces for the popular game engine Unity as well as for the web browser. We demonstrate how RedMetrics can empower scientific game development through a case study of Hero.Coli, a game that teaches synthetic biology. We study the progression of players through the game and use RedMetrics to identify bottlenecks in the game design that hinder learning.

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