Project SP15e: Games and GIS

Project SP15e: Games and GIS
Researcher: Mark Simpson
Position type: Software testing, GIS, crowdsourcing, games (gamification), research

 Application deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014

Application URL:

Position description

I’m looking for a research assistant to help me in my thesis research. My basic question is “what if GIS were more fun?”

There is a new frontier of software design called Gamification, which is about taking game-like concepts and applying them to things that aren’t games. By adding features such as points, levels, badges, and high scores, you can get people to do things that would otherwise be tedious or boring. This has been successfully applied in several crowdsourcing efforts, such as Foldit, which has led to new discoveries about molecular biology by making a game about folding proteins.

What you will be doing is trying to find examples of gamification in crowdsourcing and GIS efforts and test them to see how easy or fun they are to use, and then briefly summarize what you have found in a systematic way. Similarly, you will be looking for games that have implemented GIS concepts. Basically, you will have to Google things, play games (and not-games), and write about them.

Desired qualifications

Candidates must be able to work independently and think creatively, and be able to write clearly. This research is highly web- and software-focused, and candidates must be comfortable with using computers and doing open-ended internet research.

  • Completed GEOG 160 with B or higher
  • Have played computer/video games (anything from Call of Duty to Farmville to Tetris)
  • Interest in Psychology and/or Psychology coursework a plus
  • Familiarity with MS Office products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)


Candidates must be willing to contribute 40–120 total hours of work toward the project over the semester, resulting in 1–3 credit hours applied to the transcript. There is no monetary stipend attached to this assistantship, although the experiences gained in this work will be immediately valuable when applying for graduate school or full-time employment.

To apply

Prospective candidates should submit application to by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014.
A complete application must include:
1. All required fields of online form:

2. A one-page cover letter identifying the position for which you're applying and stating your interest in conducting research, your academic preparation, the skills you hope to gain from this experience, and contact information of two references.

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_letterMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_letter1114.pdf)

3. A resume

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_resumeMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_resume1114.pdf)