#newsrw: What are newsgames and how do you use them?

The idea of using news in a video game is a relatively new and unfamiliar concept to many news editors. Many may not have even heard of newsgames.

So, let’s start with the basics: What exactly is a newsgame and how could it possibly apply to journalism?

In the newsgame session at news:rewired – media in motion, panelist Bobby Schweizer, a doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of Newsgames: Journalism at Play, addressed those questions.

“Don’t be afraid of experimenting and of trying something new,” he said. “The payoff just might be good journalism.”

Schweizer’s definition of a newsgame is any application of journalism in videogame form. It can fall into one of seven categories: current events; infographics; documentaries; puzzles; teaching literacy; community engagement; and plaforms for games.

Schweizer also laid out eight different uses of newsgames. They can be used to:

  1. Editorialize;
  2. Raise awareness about specific events and what happened;
  3. Simulate dynamics;
  4. Model issues;
  5. Recreate events;
  6. Teach;
  7. Portray experiences;
  8. Turn stories into systems.

Schweizer used many different newsgame examples to illustrate how the games worked. One, called “los 33,” has the user save the Chilean miners who were stuck underground – one by one. Schweizer said it took him eight long minutes to finish the game and made him realize more clearly how the Chilean miner rescue was more than just great visuals.

“It was a laborious slog,” he said. “Eight minutes of having to do that gets at that kind of idea.”

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