This jam is now over. It ran from 2015-09-03 23:00:00 to 2015-09-11 22:00:00. View results

The British Library has digitised 1,000,000 historical images and made them freely available, but we don't know as much about what's in them as we'd like. Normally this is the size of task we'd turn to crowdsourcing to tackle, but we're looking to have a bit more fun. So we're hosting a Crowdsourcing Game Jam. Can you help us make crowdsourcing information about this collection fun?

An ideal game draws a random image from our 1-million-strong collection and through gameplay the player tells us something about the content of the image. You might choose from our limited set of tags (flora, fauna, mineral, human portrait, landscape, manmade - eg. machine, buildings, ship, abstract, artistic, music, map), or opt to be more creative.

If we like what we see, we've set aside up to £500 (courtesy of the Andrew Mellon Foundation) to work with someone to polish their game and release it as part of our 'Mechanical Curator Arcade Game', a 1980s-style arcade console that we're constructing. The Game Jam is open to anyone, but only those over the age of 18 are elligible to work for us.

All completed games (whether they fit the crowdsourcing theme or not) will also be eligible to enter the British Library Labs Awards, with a chance to win an additional £500 in prizes, as long as they use the British Library digital content such as the sounds and images from our open collections.

To help you get started, we've put together a sample set of these historic images - around 100 to 200 illustrations each of people, music, architecture, flora, fauna, and even cycling - along with several hundred images that we know very little about. We thought this might help to validate the results of the crowdsourced content. We'll also include the data for all of our tagged images along side this sample set for those of you looking for a further challenge.

What are the rules?

  • If you want your game to be eligible for use on our 'Mechanical Curator Arcade Game', you'll have to limit your interface to a 4-direction joystick and 2 buttons ONLY. No extra bits and pieces.
  • Our arcade runs on a Raspberry Pi 2 so keep our processing power in mind. We really like as a platform, but any similar HTML5 browser-based approach would be great as well.
  • The goal of the game must be to get the player to provide accurate descriptive data about images in our 1 million-historical image Flickr Collection.
  • Family friendly games only. This is the British Library, after all.
Who are we?
  • Adam Crymble, lecturer of digital history, University of Hertfordshire (
  • Ben O'Steen, technical lead, British Library Labs
  • Mahendra Mahey, project manager, British Library Labs

Image Credit: Image taken from page 52 of 'Captain Marryat's Novels. "The King's Own" (


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Stealthy art heist game. Winner of the British Library Labs Crowdsourcing Game Jam
A/B tagging came for Crowdsourcing
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