Submissions:2014/The Wikipedia Adventure: Play with Learning

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Title of the submission
Themes (Proposal Themes - Community, Tech, Outreach, GLAM, Education)
Type of submission (Presentation Types - Panel, Workshop, Presentation, etc)
Presentation with discussion
Author of the submission
Jake Orlowitz (Ocaasi)
E-mail address
jorlowitz at gmail
US state or country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Wikimedia Grants, The Wikipedia Library, Wiki Project Med Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

The use of games in open source and free culture online communities has great potential to drive participation. The Wikipedia Adventure is a 7-mission interactive guided tour which introduces new editors to basic editing, social, and policy skills. It was started in 2011 as a script and built in 2013 as an Individual Engagement Grant through the WMF. (

Learning to edit Wikipedia is typically hard, frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming for many editors. The purpose of this game was to remove all of that and create a learning experience that 'curates' a person's first impressions and lessons of Wikipedia. So, rather than walk away from the site feeling like it is incomprehensible or worse—threatening, users will graduate from The Wikipedia Adventure ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the real site and community.

The game takes the user from the first rudiments of editing—registering an account, creating a user page, basic markup — all the way through to more intermediate tasks such as adding images and references and asking for help at noticeboards. The game centers around the hypothetical article Earth (actually a modified form of the Simple English Wikipedia's article on Earth). Earth was selected as a focal point, because it has literally universal appeal and avoids the cultural favoritism involved in choosing a representative article that may only appeal to some readers (e.g. The Beatles or Mother Teresa).

Through a realistic but not 'live' emulated interface, the user gets to experience what happens at a real article. It begins with an invitation from another user to work on the Earth article and involves interactive tasks such as typo-fixing, identifying reliable sources, crafting writing from a neutral point of view, understanding core content policies, and even dealing with vandalism and nonconstructive edits.

The game focuses on more than just the technical mechanics of editing, infusing the script with mock interactions with simulated 'real' editors. Some of them are friendly, some are less so—and the user has the experience of learning about how to communicate in a productive and effective manner. At the heart of the game is the lesson of cooperation and collaboration, that is what makes Wikipedia work the spirit of the people who write it and that anyone can be a part of it if they learn a few basics. The journey involves badges, barnstars, and challenges. Game dynamics were used to create a sense of understanding, belonging, deep value identification, and technical proficiency.

Throughout each mission editors complete editing and policy challenges about Wikipedia, so that their progress in the game is matched by their progress as real editors. The ambitious goal is that new editors would not feel out of place or ignorant as they confront the actual editing environment of Wikipedia but instead would be prepared and even enthusiastic to get started.

This talk will share the inspiration for taking a gamified approach, a review of the game's design, and a discussion of quantitative and qualitative data and survey analysis from our beta test in which over 10,000 editors were invited to play. The talk will end with opportunities for expansion and further future exploration of game-inspired possibilities for improving our community.

Length of presentation/talk (see Presentation Types for lengths of different presentation types)
25 minutes, or part of a longer session on games and collaboration
Will you attend WikiConference USA if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
  • TWA Gamestorm: [1]
Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. GastelEtzwane (talk) 15:42, 7 April 2014 (EDT)
  2. Add your username here.