The Science of Cheating: playing with the rules in citizen science games (with Sybille Lammes)
Industry terms like serious games and gamification convey, or at least suggest, that games and play can be designed and implemented in such a way that users are educated, persuaded, or trained through engaging the user in a playful manner. The concept of citizen science games takes this one step further, as such games implicitly or explicitly invite nonprofessionals to contribute to scientific research through play. In this paper we investigate cheating as a practice that is inextricably linked to play and its relation to the notion of citizen science and science itself. Both in (serious) game design as well as science, cheating is often seen as unruly and unwanted behavior which, when detected, can lead subsequently to the end of play and the end of academic careers. Using both a game studies as philosophy of science perspective, we however argue that, when opening up the scientific endeavor to “amateurs” through play, cheating offer new venues of critical engagement and social knowledge production.
René Glas is an assistant professor in new media & digital culture at Utrecht University’s Media & Culture Studies department. With a background in film and new media studies, his main focus is on digital games and play. As part of the NWO-funded research programma Transformations in Art and Culture, he finished his PhD dissertation on processes of negotiation between stakeholders (both players and the developer) in and around the massive multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (a trade edition is expected autumn 2012). He has written and presented on a variety of topics, including the relationship between film and games, digital game history, pervasive games, and social network site games. His current research interest deals with how devious and deviant play practices also known as cheating shift control and agency over the rules of play, both in traditional games as well as in participatory, pervasive media like location-based smartphone apps.