A bit of sad news to announce: the previously-reviewed Peekaboom has been removed from the web (although The ESP Game, by the same folks, is a great alternative). The game, created as part of a study by Carnegie Mellon University, was created with the intention of teaching computers how to "see" images based on the input that human players gave. However, CMU has designed a new website with more games for teaching computers to think called GWAP (Games With A Purpose), including the new game Tag a Tune.
Instead of teaching computers to "see" you're teaching computers to "hear". You are partnered up with another random player with whom you cannot comminucate with (until the end of the game). As a sample of a random piece of music is played for you, type in the words or phrases that describe what you're hearing. Does the music fit into a certain genre? Can you name any of the instruments playing? Is it fast or slow? Happy or sad?
Meanwhile, your partner does the same, although (twist ahoy), you might not be listening to the same bit of music as your partner. Based on the descriptions given by yourself and your partner, you need to answer one simple question to earn points: Are we listening to the same thing?
You and your partner only have three minutes to match as many pairs as you can, so type fast and make your selections quickly. You get points for correctly guessing Same/Different, and streaks earn you bigger bonuses.
If you score 1000 points in the main game, you and your partner are taken to the bonus round, where more points are waiting to be won. You're now given three shorter sound clips, and are asked to choose the one that is "most unique." Sometimes, this is easy (classical, classical, techno), while other times might have you scratching your head a bit (techno, jazz, opera). You have one minute in this stage to try to match your partner's response as many times as you can before the game ends.
Analysis: A simple interface and a fun concept, Tag a Tune has the added bonus of being a game with, well, a purpose! In other words, you get to play, but work is accomplished and computers get smarter, freeing up more time for us to play games, so everybody wins! An unfortunate drawback to the system is that it requires free registration, but it only takes a few seconds and requires nothing more than an e-mail and password. A worthy price of admission for a little cooperative tune guessing.