News + Games = ♥

By Marcus Bösch |
Paperboy - Video Game Cover Image

Paperboy is a 1984 arcade game by Atari Games – Newsgames were invented 17 years later…

Basically the idea is pretty straight forward and it goes like this: News + Games = Newsgames. Newsgames is a name for games put to use in the context of journalism. They serve the interests of journalism – in the broadest sense. From a playable political cartoon to a simulation of Osama bin Ladens death.

Newsgames perfectly fit in the Games For Change context. Because they change something. They change you. Like a great article or a good radio piece they have the power to show you something new, to evoke a feeling and quite frequently result in concrete action.

Don´t mention the word

I stopped eating squid right after listening to NPR´s story about pig rectum being used as a Substitute. I donated money after reading an article about Skateistan – a Skateboard NGO for youth in Afghanistan. And games can even do more. Because they allow a personal interactive experience that might proof stronger than the linear consumption of news.

Problems is: If you mention the word newsgames in any newsroom, there is still a stigma. Andrew DeVigal says that in an current interview with the magazine Wired. DeVigal knows what he is talking about. For six years he was the Director of Multimedia at the New York Times.

A Newsgame from the UK (http://gamethenews.net/index.php/save-the-rhino-army-vs-poachers/)

The Rhino Wars is a british Newsgame originally featured on the Wired Website

DeVigal adds: „I don’t think we’ve pushed the boundaries with game-like interfaces“. And he is perfectly right. Twelve years after game designer and academic Gonzalo Frasca coined the term Newsgame, the genre has already had its up and downs but never really took off. There have been many attempts, notable results but at the same time most newsrooms simple have not yet understood the chances and possibilities concerning the usage of games.

One should applaud the brave ones that cling to the idea that the combination of news or journalism in its broadest sense on one side and game mechanics on the other side can and will provide extra value. Time wil prove them right!

Push the boundaries

It always was the combination of heterogenous things that pushed things forward. Just think about the combination of a simple personal computer and a plain telephone. Together they somewhat formed the fundament for the internet as we know it.

There is a Chinese Proverb: Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. Therefore we need more Newsgames. To understand better, to learn and to change.

A bunch of links

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