Going beyond the story: journalism, storytelling and computer games

The final session of news:rewired  – which was focused on the place of game play in journalism – was the one that, more than any other, got “beyond the story”.

In an earlier session, Alex Wood, Molly Flatt and others had talked about storytelling being a key skill for journalists. But for interactive producer Philip Trippenbach, storytelling is only one tool in a journalist’s arsenal. He said that non-narrative forms can often be a more effective way of disseminating news in some cases.

For example, climate change. Climate change is not a story, Trippenbach said. Neither is the financial crisis or coalition politics. These “systems” suit non-narrative forms. But, he added, when reporting the effects of these systems on people and communities, storytelling might be more appropriate than non-narrative means.

In a nutshell – stories must be microcosms, localised and personalised, but the best way to understand how wider systems work is by playing with them, Trippenbach said.

A practical example of this in the session was Scoop! a role playing game about newsgathering in which teams of newshounds chased fictional politicians during a mock general election. Alex Fleetwood, of social gaming maker Hide&Seek, said that Scoop helps people understand “the games” of media and politics by allowing them to take on role of the journalist or politician.

“As a journalist, the importance of stories and narrative has always been drummed into me. It was interesting to see a different approach to explaining data and systems,” he said.

See a liveblog of the entire session from Wannabe Hacks at this link.

You can find video footage from the day on this site and on BBC College of Journalism YouTube channel. Check back to this post for footage of this session.

Phil Trippenbach in the session:

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