Recently there has been an increasing interest in the topic of Newsgames. Quite a lot of articles, experiments, workshops and so on. While all this squiggles somewhat forward there is still a serious lack of well informed debate and well-conceived and executed Newsgames. Especially in Europe.
I would like to change that by bringing together journalists, game designers, technologists, academics, etc. The idea is to gather for two days in 2014 to discuss concepts and work on prototypes.
Right now i am actively looking for partners who want to join.
If you are:
–> an academic
–> a journalist
–> game designer
–> media company
–> game company
–> Find out how games can serve the interests of journalism
–> Produce working prototypes
–> Discuss the future of digital journalism
If The New York Times and the Global Editors Network can organise a Newsgame Hackathon - why can´t we?!
By the way: My name is Marcus, i have a strong background in journalism, having worked for germany´s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle amongst others for more than ten years, and i hold a master of arts in game developmet and research. I run newsgaming.de, have spoken and lectured on the topic and i have produced germany´s very first Newsgame PRISM – The Game with my little company the Good Evil.
Publishing in the digital age is pretty simple. You upload a folder. And that is all. You and me and everybody we know are publishers. We all know that this leads to a situation of constant content overload and many many shrugs while people use the internet. Why the heck am i supposed to invest precious time on something when i could be stalking friends or watch free porn?!
Still every content-publisher longs for attention, recognition, love or at least some sort of feedback. No feedback at all means that you actually do not exist in terms of internet currency. There are many fantastic and even more applaudable obscure projects somewhere out there but can they actually exist on their own without at least some human beings using them? I do not know and leave this discussion to digital philosophers contemplating deserted parts of diverse app-stores.
Yesterday evening we uploaded Prism – the Game and deep in our heart we longed for recogniation. What a priceless feeling when tweet after tweet comes pinging in. Pretty sure that you can get addicted to instant digital feedback. Whatever. Truth told: We invested time checking out a pretty small niche. Newsgames is not a topic that normally gets people freaking out in joy and ecstasis. In addition others have written about a certain Big Brother fatigue.
So maybe we already missed the perfect point to launch the game. Apart from that we are happy to discuss the game mechanic. It was fairly simple. Something that was criticized. Fair enough. We totally agree. Time was short and HTML5 is not the easiest when it comes to programming games. Maybe we should try out Game Maker or Game Salad next time. We like Pippin Barrs attempt playing around with the former.
In the end we are quite content with 131 page visits on the first day. That may not sound very much, but we are quite happy with the likes of people that dropped by. Among them a bunch of digital journalists, a bunch of game thinkers, makers and critics and others. Special thx go out to Gonzalo Frasca, John C. OsbornFlorent Maurin and Nick Diakopoulos.
This was a very first attempt to dive into the topic of actual newsgame-production. We are very happy to discuss the topic. Just drop us a line over at the Good Evil.
We wanted to present you a playable game today! Obviously we are not. We were to ambitious. The rough prototype was working yesterday. But now the game has some issues. It does not work in some browsers and there is a bunch of little but vicious bugs. As always.
If we have learned one thing during the last months it is that developing games takes time. And the finishing and polishing takes a hell lot of time. One of the major problems of Newsgames because News is a major part of the composed noun. An while working on the actual project time flies, things evolve, change and you can not do very much but watch how other news appear on the general agenda.
That is why clever people are working on game generating tools which for now happen to remain in some sort of beta-status but might one day help solve the magic triangle problem. Time is short. Quality is supposed to be high. And yeah the cost should be – well – moderate. We played around with Game-o-matic but it did not produce anything useful in our case. We have heared from other projects and are very curious even if we are not convinced yet.
I imagine these frameworks as some sort of pre-designed theme. And everybody who has ever played around with these when it comes to website-design knows that the real mess begins when you start pimping these the way you actually want or think that you want to.
The most important part of a game is its mechanic. The very best graphic design and a stunning soundtrack will not pay off if the core is flat or poorly executed. However a brilliant mechanic alone will not automatically make a fantastic game. There is an ongoing broad discussion what makes a good game. Actually nobody can foresee and nobody owns secret ingredients to cast a spell over raw game drafts.
The thing with Newsgames or games for purpose in general is that they are supposed to deliver more than just fun – which actually happens to be hard enough. The desirable outcome of Newsgames should be implanted into the game mechanic in order not to disturb the player but to get him while playing. Following the rule “Show don´t tell” the meaning of a game shall unfurl in the brain of the player.
Very few Newsgames are able to do that. Because it is very hard to achieve. Many Newsgames just copy already existing game concepts. Because this is fairly easy. Actually we have done the deed. Why? Because it seemed to be the best option to accomplish a complete game in a short period of time. And the usage seemed to fairly fit the context.
My personal problem with a bunch of current Newsgames is that the game play very often remains rather static. I was wishing for a dynamic arcade-like game play in order to follow a rule by Marc Prensky: A good game-based learning experience should be so much fun, that people not interested in the whole topic would definitely want to play the game.
Why does this game make sense in the context of PRISM?
We want to enable the player to actually feel how the scanning of personal data works and what it means. Therefore it was necessary to abstract from the actual process. As much as we know algorithms scan large amounts of data automatically which then are evaluated, edited and presented to a human user. Nevertheless a human user was, is and will be part of the work. Strangers have the ultimate power to sniff about private details of every single person on the internet for the sake of a government-defined concept of security even though “the hard numbers on terrorism invalidate the current policies“.
While many people in the US and abroad seem to tolerate this approach we want to make a point in the debate over the balancing act between security and liberty. The opponents in our game are not killer frogs, flying dragons or aliens but people like you and me. People with a bunch of secrets, dreams and desires that belong to them alone. Every time a single piece of data is scanned, privacy is violated for the sake of control.
Prism – the game can best be understood as political commentary in the tradition of Gonzalo Frasca´s September 12th. We will release a playable version soon even if it may not alter the Big Brother Fatigue…
It is easy to discuss, critizise and condemn attempts to push things forward. The harder part is to actually produce stuff. That is why we at the Good Evil have set up our very first #Newsgamesweek. Our goal is to produce an actual working Newsgame. While doing that we want to reflect problems and insights. So, [...]
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 [...]
So. I finished my Master Thesis. And you can call me “Master of Game Development and Research” from now on. Together with Linda i started a Game Studio for Serious Games, Newsgames and Games For Change or however you want to call Games With A Purpose other than “just” having fun. Come on over. Thx. Marcus
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This is a screenshot from “Pico´s School” an early Newsgame from 1999. I found it in Mark Nelson´s Newsgame Index that ends 2008. There have been other similar attempts to gather information about Newsgames. Mathias Poulsen set up a Tentative list of “Newsgames” – latest update: 101 days ago. You can find the Gotham Gazette [...]
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Okay, this is not a Newsgame. Why not? It is not about news. Nevertheless i am going to write about it, because it is my very first game that achieved some kind of feedback. Apart from that there are some things that somewhat refer to the fuzzy new genre of Newsgames and that need some [...]
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This is a commercial Trailer for the new EA game ‘Medal of Honor‘. There has been some controversial about the opportunity to play Taliban fighters in the Multiplayer Option. EA has deleted that option. I am not going to debate that. It was forseeable. It was good advertising. And of course it is wrong to [...]
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Keine Experimente. No Experiments. That was the election campaign slogan of the CDU, the German Christian Democrats in 1957. They did very well with that slogan, which became a familiar quotation ever after. Most of the time used with an ironic undertone. Teichoscopy versus Literacy If you have a closer look at the situation of [...]
Newsgames is a name for games put to use in the context of journalism. While Serious games name a more vague idea of games doing something “outside entertainment”, Newsgames serve the interests of journalism - in the broadest sense. From a playable political cartoon to a simulation of Osama bin Ladens death.
Newsgames will not replace classical approaches to news but they can and will enhance and augment digital journalism in the 21th century.
Help The NSA!
Our very first little Newsgame...
My very first prototype
Dig out your mobile device and give newsplay.me a try. It is still buggy but if you are smart you will get the idea.
Terrorhunter – Do good on the go
A Notgames-Concept about the future war on terror. More infos here.
Short interview with Gonzalo Frasca
"Frasca is credited with coining the term Newsgame to refer to a videogame based on real, newsworthy events."