Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How News and Video Games Have Come Together to Make a Change

What are some examples of gaming used in news narratives? What potential does this and other emergent genres have for the future of news and public engagement?
Emma Spencer
Key Points
1.      Video games like Sweatshop allow players to understand a situation in which they wouldn’t have had the same emotional connection to otherwise.
2.      Video games offer an exciting new platform for news because of the way they engage their audience and appeal to the younger generations.
Sweatshop (and other examples of social impact games)
-In this game you play a floor manager of a sweat shop, and have to fulfill orders by selecting workers to make the goods etc. You have the choice of adult and child workers, as the game continues you are forced to choose the child workers for profitability. Workers also die from dehydration and lose their limbs. As you play child workers pop up on the bottom of the screen begging for descent treatment.
-Betsey Morais from the New Yorker played this game and described the elements above. She also said “The longer I played, the more each moving part—workers, children, hats—became abstracted into the image of one big machine.”
-Betsey reflected that the ability to both identify with the character you are playing as well as being aware of yourself as a player has a profound impact on players of the game.
-Other examples of games; Budget Hero, a game in which the player has to build a federal budget that must stay balanced for 30 years, the game includes up to date financial data. Gauging your Distraction, in which players must perform tasks driving as well as send messages to a friend.
Why are Newsgames Important?
- Newsgames create a meaningful, memorable experience in which you engage in complex stories with strong emotional ties, says Sisi Wei of ProPublica
- Allows the viewer to generate strong understanding through emotional involvement.
-Sisi also argues that these games can be almost as easy to make as a news infographic, “Technologically speaking, HeartSaver was just a few files of HTML, CSS, Javascript, some custom icons made in Illustrator, and free sound files off the Internet. Coming up with the concept and designing the game was the harder part.”
Discussion Questions
1.      Do you think the younger generation is really more likely to play these games than other games they have access to? And are they targeted towards people too young for the content being delivered?
2.      How do you think these games can be more easily accessible and known about?
Morais, B. “Anthropological Video Games”. The New Yorker. December 7, 2012.
Wei, S. “Creating Games for Journalism”. ProPublica. July 11, 2013.

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