Social computing researchers have lately been investigating the use of games to produce useful work, i.e., structuring games so that they produce work as a byproduct of play. The most well-known example is the ESP Game, where two people look at the same image and try to guess matching image labels without any communication outside the game — the useful work being the labels produced. (I should note that it’s controversial whether the labels produced by the ESP Game are actually worthwhile, but that detail isn’t important here.)
Here’s an interesting variation: freerice.com. This is a vocabulary quiz game, complete with a numeric assessment of your "vocab level". (This blogger hovers around 41.) But it’s also a way to convert dollars generated by advertising — you’re shown three ads along with each word — into food for the needy.
I wonder if the advertisers on this site are being taken for a ride. What are the click-through rates compared to other websites?