Reading: Noise Battle

by Chris F

I’ve read the second of two gamified app proposals I have found while searching for gamification on Google Scholar (really sorry, UCS Summon, you don’t work that well). It’s a proposal called “Noise Battle: A Gamified application for Environmental Noise Monitoring in Urban Areas” written by 4 students at the University Jaume I Castello in Spain. It’s been written to be presented at the 2013 Association of Geographic Information Laboratories for Europe (AGILE) conference. Much like the other proposal that I’ve read, Towns Conquer, this takes a problem and tries to write a gamified app proposal for it. Let’s have a more in-depth look at the proposal and see if it will sink, like Towns Conquer, or manage to hold its own.

Much like Towns Conquer, this paper has all the signs of not stopping to think too much about the game design elements behind it. I’m guessing this and Towns Conquer were part of a university assignment, because there are the same key texts quoted in it, Zicherman’s SAPS model and Lazarro’s 4 keys to fun, then they talk about the back end and front end of the app, it’s still on the Android platform, not released yet etc. Unlike Towns Conquer, however, this gamification example actually looks like it could work.

Noise Battle uses citizens as sensors literally. Users would be using an application on their Android phone in order to record environmental noise from their surroundings which they would then upload to a central location to get processed. Why I think this would work is because it requires users to do multiple monitorings of noise in areas, at certain time intervals. Like Towns Conquer, it uses the same “you conquer this part of the town if you record a noise”, but unlike Towns Conquer, it makes sense to have parts of town change owners. The people behind this thought that they would split the town in a grid, and then when a person records ambient noise in that location (traced by GPS, I assume), they win that square in the grid. There are a few factors that they take into consideration when deciding who owns a square, like the amount of time since the last recording, the quality of the current recording and so on.

It seems like it could work. The reason why this is, in my opinion, is because it makes sense: you need people to do a repetitive task, and you incentivise them by allowing them to take parts of their town as their own. Maybe even think of a cooldown mechanic where a square cannot be retaken until at least a day has passed, or have two types of capture, nocturnal and during the day. There are a lot of possibilities from which a really nice game could come out of this. They also think of other, smaller details which I really liked, such as giving the player the option to create an avatar and customize it (yay, a use for those pesky points in gamification models!), creating “bonus squares” which need to be captured if a square is not specifically popular or an importance tier based on where noise patterns tend to change the most, such as in a town’s centre.

What I need to decide at the moment is if this model is better because it has been thought of with a more design approach or simply because the task is more fitted for gamification. I think that it’s a mix of both: repetitive tasks fit in much better with the model of “conquering areas” than one-off tasks, as was the case with Towns Conquer. It seems that although both teams have been given a similar brief and same key texts, this team managed to make a much better decision with their needs and came up with a gamified app which could easily be turned into a game, given some minor design attention. Good job!

Chris F.

Garcia-Marti, I; Rodrituez-Pupo, L; Diaz, L; Huerta, J. (2013). Noise Battle: A Gamified application for Environmental Noise Monitoring in Urban Areas. AGILE 2013 Available at http://www.agile-online.org/Conference_Paper/CDs/agile_2013/Short_Papers/SP_S1.3_Garcia_Marti.pdf 

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