Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hearing Test

Virtualpolitik friend Nick Diakopoulos has just released Audiopuzzler, a game that responds to the tendency in many videogames to privilege sight over the other senses. Although the altitude of the high scores may be intimidating to first-time players, the game is designed to be user-friendly. Unfortunately, players who have unpleasant memories of typing tests and dictation drills (a.k.a. any woman who was born before 1970 in the era in which girls had to learn secretarial skills in school separate from boys) may be more resistant to the game. Audio snippets include an anti-Obama political ad about gas prices and a clip from An Inconvenient Truth. Diakopoulos explains the game's rationale as follows:

In the process of playing the game, players contribute transcriptions of snippets of video - the better the transcription, the more points the player earns. These transcription snippets contribute to the enrichment of the video for other users and can facilitate things like close captioning among other things. It's a way to have fun with a meaningful by-product - one especially valuable considering the difficulty of achieving high accuracy video transcriptions using automatic methods.

Diakopoulos also uses crowd sourcing in a game about tagging photos with metadata.

Although I am intrigued by this example, I also wonder about the implications of giving multiple parties access to audio files from news and entertainment sources in this way, because of rights clearance questions. Too often projects intended to improve digital materials for the disabled -- such as electronic readers for the blind -- have encountered problems with copyright restrictions. In this case the snippets may be minuscule enough and the cause so worthy that intellectual property issues may not trump other concerns.

More on Water Cooler Games.

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