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Purposeful Gaming

Main Project Information
Presented By Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT)
Goal Help improve access to historic biodiversity texts!
Task Carefully type each word that appears in the game.
Where Online only

Purposeful Gaming is a project that explores how computer games can be used to enhance and preserve historical texts, such as 19th-century hand-written field notes and early agricultural catalogs.

Because these materials cannot be read by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to produce a usable text document, people must transcribe them from scanned images. Even then, individuals may transcribe the same word differently.

This game uses texts that have been read by two different OCR programs. Each time the programs interpret a word differently, that word is fed into the game, and the player is asked to supply a transcription. Eventually, when enough people have typed the same word, the game can create consensus about the correct spelling. These corrections are then sent back to the digital library that holds the texts, where they can be incorporated into the original OCR transcriptions to make them more accurate.

Every word that you type is improving a text document that will become searchable and readable!

Play a game. Save a book.

How to Join

Simply go to the website ( and start playing! Save your progress to come back later and pick up where you left off.

We recommend using a laptop or desktop computer rather than a mobile device or tablet.

Project Timing This project was funded by a grant [LG-05-13-0352-13] from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which lasted from December, 2013 to November, 2015.
Social Media
Ideal Age Group Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families
Ideal Frequency Just once
Average Time Less than an hour
Spend the Time outdoors
Type of Activity Exclusively online, At school, At home
Media Mentions
and Publications
Tags bhl, computer, exclusively online, game, language, online, purposeful gaming, smorball
Project Updated 05/23/2018