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Gamify the News

Sorry. Not that much going on around here. Meanwhile i wrote a book chapter about Mobile Reporting (german) and worked on some very basic Flash / Action Script Coding at the CGL. Nevertheless, i spent some time thinking about the evolving “Gamification” debate. I put together some information sources on gamification using Storify here. Nevertheless is still did not find time to built some sort of newsgames-archive even if that would be very useful. In the meantime Bobby Schweizer´s article about the history of newsgames has lots of links to games in it.

I think a chance of the actual  gamification debate – which is still very much in its infancy – is to open up the quite narrow niche of newsgames. I am very happy about that. Because my main interest was and still is to find ways to improve the possibilities of “doing news” on the internet in the 21st century. I think we do not need to argue about the fact that new ways and forms are actually needed 15 years after the New York Times launched online. Mediastorm´s Multimedia Productions will not show us the way into the next decade. Instead of talking about ‘lean forward’ and ‘lean back’ media i wish we would more talk about the way it feels to use media sites, about interaction, about generating experiences with or without game mechanics. Lorenz (@lorz) pointed me to a blogpost by Josh Korr. He writes about a new interesting project by Chris O`Brian.

Chris O’Brien of the San Jose Mercury News has launched NewsTopiaville, an interesting project that will “explore how game mechanics can be applied to reinvent the way we produce, consume and interact with news.” The project is ambitious, interesting, and worthwhile.

Yeah. It is. I especially like Chris´destinction of newsgames and gamification of news. He wrote about that and his project here.

For me, newsgames represent a way to reinvent storytelling. It is a contained object. Gamification is about bringing game mechanics to the entire platform and experience of news and information.

While i disagree that newsgames are any good for storytelling i think the word “contained object” is very useful. That said, i am pretty sure that consumers do not give a dime what things they do or do not enjoy online are called by experts. If i like interacting with an interavtive datavisualization than i do not care if that already is gamification or a gameful experience or not.

Chris is keen on finding answers to questions like: How do we improve commenting? How do we get more people to participate in creation and processing of news and information? How do we think differently about monetization? Basically you could break it down to one thing: How do we get people to spent their precious time on the web with our products (news as a product!) and how do we get them to come back, like us, tell their friends about us or even engage or pay for our news-product on the web. That can be achieved if we give them something that is fun, something that provides extra value. Plain news the way they are now are not very valuable. You get them for free nearly everywhere.

Total gamification will not solve any problems. Adding badges or casual games will not solve any problems. But experimentation with new forms of telling stories, explaining systems or implementing customized interaction can help us to find ways out of the news dilemma. This will not be a one-way thing. There will be many many different ways how to interact with many many different communities. Things do not get simpler. But things definitely get more interesting in the next years. Maybe things will be more fun as well. Games in the end are somewhat always supposed to be fun. However you define fun ;)

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