News games

25Oct11

After reading the quote in Media Work by “M.”, a  media manager in the US, which states

“I firmly believe that all major media companies should be looking into ways to expand into console, mobile and pc gaming. The hardest part is evangelizing this type of work to those who hold the purse strings.” (Deuze, 2007, p. 152)

I started to think about this and investigated the games mentioned within the chapter. These games were designed by Gonzalo Frasca while an academic games researcher, Frasca says of his site newsgaiming.com: “we will use games and simulations to analyze, debate, comment and editorialize major international news” (newsgaming.com). I think it’d fair to say Frasca is predominantly focussed on the last criteria, openly admitting to being biased in his depictions of the stories he is relating to, in what could be likened to the j-blogs talked about by Singer as “enabling journalists to develop and express a personal voice” (Singer, 2011, p. 104). Frasca comments on the site: “We do not believe in objective journalism. We prefer games that encourage critical thinking, even if the player disagrees with our games’ ideas” (newsgaming.com) This contradicts the objective ideology of journalism as stated within the Media Work chapter and if not treated carefully could fall more under the classification of political or propaganda games (see Extra Credits), something that is a potential danger within the world of reporting the news.

In addition to this, taking into account the identified immediacy inherent in the concept of “news” and taking into consideration the development time of games we must realistically resign ourselves to one of three situations:

  1. Rushed games with little gameplay of a similar standard to that of Madrid, which was turned around in 24 hours
  2. Games shoe horned into a number of pre-existing templates (think the model behind Zynga’s anything-Ville games) with little consideration to how the gameplay mechanics are informed by the subject matter.
  3. Games developed over a longer period by which time they may have missed the window of opportunity to be included as “news”

I still believe in the potential of games, their unique attributes as an interactive experience and how this could be harnessed to explore current events, but perhaps the methods and approaches need to be examined a bit more closely to ensure a balanced portrayal of events before we go too far down the rabbit hole. While there have been many so called news games since the ones depicted in Media Work, I would argue that they fall very much within the political rather than the journalistic ideology.

– Craig Harknesss

Works Cited

Deuze, M. (2007). Media Work. Malden, MA, USA: Polity Press.

newsgaming.com. (n.d.). F.A.Q. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from newsgaming.com: http://newsgaming.com/faq.htm

newsgaming.com. (n.d.). People. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from newsgaming.com: http://www.newsgaming.com/people.htm

Singer, J. B. (2011). Journalism in a Network. In M. Deuze (Ed.), Managing Media Work (pp. 103-109). Thousand Oaks, California, United States of America: SAGE Publications Inc.

 

 

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