Annotating web-pages, photos, and now also short videos is common practice for those that share their content on social media sites, such as Delicious, Flickr, or Yahoo! Video. The massive scale at which Yahoo!'s users are annotating media is impressive and enables effective retrieval of web-pages, images, and video at large, which was believed to be out of scope for a long time.

With the introduction of the VideoTagGame we try to push the boundaries at bit further. The objective of the VideoTagGame is to collect time-based annotations over video in the context of a multi-player game. Ultimately, this will enable the retrieval of relevant parts in a video, rather than returning the entire video as unit of retrieval.

Playing the game

To play the game, simply sign in with your Yahoo! ID, and read the how-to-play instructions, before joining a new game. You will be synchronised with other players before the game starts. There will always be at least three players in a game. A three second countdown signals the start of the game, after which the video starts playing immediately. Make sure that you are ready to enter the tags (keywords) as soon as the video starts playing. To submit a tag, you need to hit enter after each tag. If two players agree on a tag, each player receives points. The points that are awarded are proportional to the time difference between the two players submitting their tags; the shorter the time difference, the more points are rewarded. But you'll get no time to relax, as the video keeps streaming and new tags need to be entered as quickly as possible, which can be quite a challenge. One last hint, entering the same tag within a few seconds will not reward you additional points, in fact, another player in the game might benefit, and receive more points for his tag, due to a smaller time difference.

Once the video has finished playing, you'll automatically go to the next screen, and you can sit back and relax while watching the video again. This time with the tags that were entered during the game are projected over the video. Hint, if you click on the video, the tag stream will split in multiple columns, so that you can see who entered which tag.

Behind the scenes

The VideoTagGame runs on top of a Red5 server, which is responsible for the communication with the players in the game. Once the Flex client is loaded in the browser, a player can choose to join a game. This will start a synchronisation process with other players that want to play, and a new video is selected from the pool of videos. In this experiment we'll only show movie trailers. A three second countdown starts as soon as all players are ready to go. During the game each tag is time-stamped and communicated with the server, which controls the scoreboard and notifies the clients of updates. After the end of the game you can relax and watch the video again to see what tags have been entered by you and the other players in the game.

Ready to go...

Summer 2007 we ran a first experiment with the VideoTagGame during the Yahoo! party at SIGIR in Amsterdam. Using a game room set-up, we had 57 participants playing in total 26 games with on average 5 players per game during a 3 hour time window. Each game lasted 2 minutes and at the end of the event a total of 5890 tags had been entered. In 57% of the cases players agreed on a tag.

Today, we launch a second experiment through Sandbox to collect more statistics and report back to you in a couple of months. We hope that you'll enjoy playing the game!

Roelof van Zwol, Lluis Garcia, Georgina Ramirez

Yahoo! Research Barcelona, Spain

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