Friday, October 31, 2008

Games That are Useful: Political Sentiment Quiz

In anticipation of the election next week, I decided to write about something political. Enjoy.

Games can do more than entertain, they can also harness the collective intelligence of millions of players to solve problems.

Researcher Luis von Ahn, inventor of the CAPTCHA, coined the term "useful games" to describe this type of game. For the most part, these useful games have been used to solved computing problems.

One popular example of a useful game is Google's Image Labeler, which uses a game-like interface to get people to tag images with labels that accurately describe the image.

A group of German researchers have applied a similar technique to determine media bias in the coverage of the 2008 presidential election.

Their game (on Facebook), US '08 Sentiment Quiz, asks players to determine if a given soundbite is positive, neutral or negative towards a particular candidate. A player is matched with a partner. If both players answer the same, they are awarded points. If the players disagree, neither earns anything. These matches are tested repeatedly with other sets of players until the game can confidently say whether any given comment contains a bias.

The researchers are not ready to release results yet, but it will be very interesting to find out if Fox News was more biased against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

If you're interested in furthering the research, play the game here.

And if you're curious, this blog is completely biased. Go vote for Barack!