I’ve long been interested in finding a way to combine serious journalism with games. I’m convinced it can be done. The question is: How?
If you, like me, are concerned about young people’s retreat from news and high-quality verified sources of information, and think games might be part of the answer to re-engage them and others, please join us.
Hi Saleem, I'm glad you rebooted this group here. Serious games = my field—educational and news games, primarily. For my Roll and Shuffle group, I copied and pasted the best discussions to the new group, while organizing them by topic. It was a little labor-intensive, but we had some great lists of resources and links and game design, and I'm glad I did it.
In terms of current projects, I'm wrapping my brain around the best way to present the topic of NEOs (near-earth-objects) to tweens/teens. Getting a slow start, but here's the gist: Asteroids: A True Story This started out as a book (I even had a contract offer from a publisher), but after working up the proposal, I realized that this topic cries out for video game or interactive features that put kids in the driver's seat—making decisions in a resource/time management framework.
Is this a News Game? YES, in the sense that Apophis is an ongoing news story (it's going to swipe by us mighty close in 2029, then again in 2036) and the bigger issue is that an asteroid WILL impact Earth at some point, disastrously so, and we are in no way currently prepared to stop it. It will be up to the next generation to plan and test long-range strategies.
Anyone who's interested in contributing thoughts, strategies, links, resources... I welcome all of the above at this stage.
I think the nature of news lends itself to this. News stories should appear in a virtual environment as objects. Different types of news stories would appear as different shaped objects. Political stories would appear in the environment as a headline stamped on a gavel or something. Human interest stories could appear as a headline stamped on a teardrop. Media and entertainment stories could appear as a headline stamped on an mp3 player. Fluff stories could appear as a headline stamped on a cotton ball.
Another factor is the sourcing of the story. Stories that are clearly sourced to clearly identified persons or organizations would appear out in the sunshine in the virtual environment. Stories that have vague sources like "a whitehouse source" would appear in the shade of a large tree. Stories that actually involve real investigative journalism would appear under a magnifying glass.
Another factor is the age of the news. New stories would appear in the foreground and you can move down a path into the background towards older stories. When you click on a story it would be highlighted in, say, red and every other story in the virtual environment that is related to it would be highlighted in the same color or linked down the path of time by red lines or something. That way if you click on an interesting story you can get the background on it and see how the story has developed over time. If stories become discredited for any reason they can appear as dented or deflated or with a scarlet "D" on them or something.
Anyway, I guess all I'm trying to say is that the physical features of the virtual environment would represent the journalistic features of the articles that appear there and players can navigate this world just as avid news readers navigate the myriad news sources that now populate our globe.
I'm imagining something like this game:
Not sure how you could make this like real life though. perhaps get the students involved in local issues?