Valve’s “Steam Greenlight” Lets Customers Decide What Gets Published

For anyone unfamiliar with Valve Software’s Steam platform, it is the leading digital delivery marketplace for PC games. Valve has announced Steam Greenlight, a community-based website meant to provide indie developers with feedback and the opportunity to be selected by users for distribution on Steam. Unlike sites with a reviewing panel, it will be primarily the customers themselves that will determine the future of these indie titles. Debuting August 30, the community will be able to rate projects that indie developers submit and give feedback.

Games that have a relatively high number of votes from the community, as well as considering other factors like genre and features will likely see their wares on Steam. In other words, it’s not just about getting a specific number of votes, though getting a large quantity of up votes doesn’t hurt in the slightest.

“Making the call to publish or not publish a title isn’t fun,” … “Many times opinions vary and our internal jury is hung on a decision. But with the introduction of the Steam Workshop we realized an opportunity to enlist the community’s help as we review certain titles and, hopefully, increase the volume and quality of creative submissions.” -Valve Rep

This new approach to cultivating an online marketplace is exciting not only for customers but also for small  developers who want to break into a wider audience. It may be hard to imagine other “app stores” doing this, but if a good precedent is set here, it would be interesting to see this concept spread to some of the other well established walled gardens around the industry.

Crowdsourcing: From 1714 to 2012 (and beyond)

Tongal connects companies with creative people to produce official online campaigns. Kickstarter connects soon-to-be companies with people willing to fund their projects. uTest connects software companies with expert software testers. Google Chrome reached out to Johnny Cash fans to create Johnny’s final music video. Each company connects a group of people who need something to a crowd of suppliers for different reasons and to accomplish different goals. So which one of them is official crowdsourcing?

All of them.

Crowdsourcing is an ever growing trend and as it continues to expand into new areas it can be hard to define. But, as it turns out, crowdsouring to solve problems and create solutions is not a new concept.

Check out this cute video by Crowdsourcing.org for the history of crowdsourcing (dating back all the way to 1714) and an understanding of what crowdsourcing is today.

Crowdsourced Games Lead to Medical Breakthroughs

An online game helps sequence DNAJournalist Jeff Howe defined crowdsourcing as “The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” And what’s the best way to get people to willingly respond to that open call and perform a (at times grueling) task? Make it a game.

And, as unlikely as it sounds, that’s exactly what medical researchers have done. It turns out that: A. people are very good at finding patterns and coming up with different ways to solve puzzles and B. two minds are better than one, and there are a lot of minds on the internet. That’s why games like Phylo and Biogames’ Telpathology game are growing in popularity while helping researchers solve critical problems.

Phylo is a web-based game that “harnesses the computing power of mankind to solve a common problem: Multiple Sequence Alignments.” Here’s what Phylo has players doing and how it’s helping researchers identify potentially lifesaving DNA patterns:

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Please Register Your Dead Dog (and other testing stories of the day)

Last week, I received a notice from the town of Ashland informing me that I was being fined for failing to register my dog Buster. Three things struck me as odd. First, I don’t own a dog. Second, the letter was not issued to me, but rather the last occupant of my house (who really needs to change his address). Third, Buster has apparently been deceased for a number of years.

How could this have happened? If you guessed software glitch, give yourself a pat on the back.

According to a post on the town’s website today, a glitch in the Town Clerk’s computer software caused notices to be sent to dog owners whose pets might have died or moved out  of town.

“If your dog has moved or passed away, please notify us,” said Clerk Tara Ward’s post.

The post said a software crash also caused purple notices about fines for dog licenses to be sent to residents whose dogs might already be registered.

That’s one of many interesting testing stories of the day. Here were a few others that caught my attention:

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uTest Joins the Ranks of Hot Startups on VatorTV [VIDEO]

What does uTest’s Doron Reuveni have in common with Box’s Aaron Levie, Turntable.fm’s Seth Goldstein, AirBnB’s Brian Chesky, Kaggle’s Anthony Goldbloom and Gaia’s Craig Sherman?  They’ve all been interviewed over the past year by award-winning journalist Bambi Francisco Roizen for Vator.tv.

Last week, uTest joined the ranks of these hot, innovative startups by appearing on VatorTV, one of the largest business networks dedicated to entrepreneurship, and the sister site to VatorNews, which is focused on the business and trends of high-tech entrepreneurship and innovation with 400-plus contributors.

Bambi, the CEO and founder of Vator (short for ‘innovator’), caught up with Doron to learn the ins-and-outs of uTest’s business model and what our expansion plans are for 2012 following our recent $17M D round of funding.

Gamers Help Break Kickstarter Funding Records

Gaming industry veteran Tim Schafer took up the help of Kickstarter to raise $400,000 in order to fund the creation of his company’s new adventure game, as well as film the progress of the game development for everyone to view as bonus content during the production. Within hours, Schafer’s studio, Double Fine, reached their goal, breaking the record for the most money earned in the quickest time on Kickstarter. At this current time, with 19 days remaining on Kickstarter, Double Fine has over 62,800 backers and cover $2 million in pledges.

A Kickstarter spokesperson has confirmed that Double Fine’s adventure game fundraiser now holds the company record for raising such a high amount of money in a short amount of time.

“I can confirm that there’s not been a project that has raised as much as this one in such a short timeframe, and now has more backers than any other project on the site,” the spokesperson revealed.

Kickstarter says it does not keep a running tally of finalized projects, but its listing of ‘Most Funded‘ ventures shows a number of concepts that came close to the one million dollar mark since 2009.

Ideally, this is how video games would be made. People in the community, and people that genuinely love what they do in the video game industry, coming together to build something everyone can call their own. The only thing more exciting than a new old-school point and click adventure game from Tim Schafer is the outlook on how this campaign may impact the traditional game publishing paradigm going forward. You can keep an eye on their progress or contribute to the project over on Double Fine’s Kickstarter page.

Crowdsourcing Travels To A Galaxy Far Far Away

We already know that crowdsourcing is a great way to do software testing. And it proved pretty handy when creating a tribute music video. Now it turns out it even works for creating full-length films!

“Star Wars Uncut” is the full length Episode IV: A New Hope movie (running at 2 hours and 4 minutes), done in 15 second, crowdsourced clips. Crowdsourcing can produce some pretty amazing results.

DARPA: Test Our Weapons System, It’s a Blast!

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more vocal proponent of crowdsourced software testing than yours truly (uTest). Over the last few years, we’ve seen first-hand just how successful community-based testing can be with regards to functional, security, load, localization and usability testing. But what about testing military systems? Could crowdsourced testing play a role in verifying the functionality of hi-tech weapons systems?

DARPA says yes.

Here with the story is informationweek.com:

The Department of Defense wants to create computer games that will crowdsource the complex process of verifying software for weapons systems.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the DOD’s research arm, through a project called Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV), aims to provide a “fun” way for the public to take part in software verification, a software engineering process to ensure an application satisfies its requirements, according to an agency announcement posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

The way DARPA sees it, if software verification was turned into a computer game that was fun for anyone to play, it could test the properties of software on a wider audience to ensure it will achieve its desired outcomes, according to the announcement.

Of course, one could argue that what DARPA is envisioning here is not really software testing as much as it is software checking – an important distinction made by many in the field, including James Bach. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for the most advanced military on the planet looking to leverage the crowd for more accurate, more in-the-wild testing results. And if you recall, this is not DARPA’s first foray into crowdsourcing.

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Nope, That Is Definitely Not Crowdsourcing

In 2008, journalist Jeff Howe published Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business, in which he defined the term as follows:

“The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.”

Fairly straightforward, yes? Well, judging from the way the term is applied in modern media, there’s still some confusion over the true meaning crowdsourcing.

To illustrate, here are two recent news stories purporting to show crowdsourcing at work. One example fits the bill perfectly. The other does not. See if you can guess which is which…

Crowdsourced Video Gets Artistic With The Johnny Cash Project

Google Chrome – among all the other stuff they do – released a cool new video called The Johnny Cash Project, defined as a “collaborative art project attempting to stitch together a new music video for Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave” by having artists recreate individual frames and portraits of Cash in their own style.” The video was launched to mark the eight year anniversary of the singer’s death.

Here’s a video showing how it was made, followed by a brief description from reelseo.com:

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uTest Goes BIG at TechCrunch Disrupt

As you may have read on Monday’s blog post, uTest launched a new informational campaign to promote http://www.inthewildtesting.com.   The web site – and associated social media channels, including a Twitter profile – are intended to educate forward-thinking technology leaders about the necessity, benefits and real use cases of in-the-wild testing. 

We decided to launch it at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco because the very concept of in-the-wild software testing (versus traditional methodologies) is, well…disruptive. 

Sure enough, TechCrunch Disrupt turned out to be the perfect event!  There were more than 2,600 innovative, entrepreneurial-minded techies, investors and exhibitors (35% more attendees than expected) filling the halls of the Design Concourse Center from Monday to Wednesday.  In its usual fashion, the conference itself attracted top industry-leaders such as Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Marissa Mayer of Google, Vinod Khosla, and even Ashton Kutcher.

uTest hosted a ton of terrific activities over the course of the event:

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