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Crowdsourcing experiments with scientific research?

Posted Feb 13 2012 2:29pm

The gaming industry is monstrously big business. But it is also infested with much love and enthusiasm, both by those in the industry itself, and from those who use its products.

One example of this is an interesting venture by the established gaming developer Double Fine Productions . The company started this drive on the innovation/crowdsourcing website kickstarter – the world largest funding platform for creative projects, as they call themselves – to collect money for the development of a new point-and-click adventure game (a genre in which the developer has a venerable track record with games like Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango). In less than 24 hours, they raised the 400.000 dollars they were aiming for. They started the drive for reasons that resonate with some of the concerns of science communication:

The world of video game design is a mysterious one.  What really happens behind the closed doors of a development studio is often unknown, unappreciated, or misunderstood.  And the bigger the studio, the more tightly shut its door tends to be.  With this project, we’re taking that door off its hinges and inviting you into the world of Double Fine Productions, the first major studio to fully finance their next game with a Kickstarter campaign and develop it in the public eye.

They want to share and open up how it is actually being done, rather than being overruled by marketing departments wanting to put a spin on everything. They are going to film the entire developing process and make it available as it progresses. As they say, it will be

an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what game development of this caliber looks like from the inside.  Not the sanitized commercials-posing-as-interviews that marketing teams only value for their ability to boost sales, but an honest, in-depth insight into a modern art form that will both entertain and educate gamers and non-gamers alike.

Here  is an extended (and quite funny) video presentation of the project:

I wonder if one could do similar crowdsourcing experiments with scientific research — designing an experiment, getting the funding to do it through crowdsourcing and documenting and publishing the entire process.

Anyone know if something like this has already been done? It would make for a great experiment in science communication and open up (at least a little bit) the black box that scientific research has become for many people.

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