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Newsgames, also known as news games, are a genre of video games that attempt to apply journalistic principles to their creation. They can fall into multiple categories, including current events, documentary, simulations of systems, and puzzle and quiz games. Newsgames can provide context into complex situations which might be hard to explain without experiencing the situation first hand. Journalists use newsgames to expand on stories so the audience can learn more about the information from in an immersive way.
This genre of game is usually based on real concepts, issues, or stories, but the games can also be a hybrid representation of the original research, offering players a fictional experience based on real-world sources. They can also be thought of as the video game equivalent of political cartoons. Miguel Sicart describes them as games that "utilize the medium with the intention of participating in the public debate".
According to "Newsgames: Journalism at Play," written by newsgame innovators Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, and Bobby Schweizer, the authors define newsgames as “a term that names a broad body of work produced at the intersection of videogames and journalism.” This includes a number of subcategories that dive into different ways to incorporate gaming elements into journalistic work, whether they be long-form documentary news games (JFK Reloaded), games that simulate real-world systems (Sweatshop or Darfur is Dying), interactive infographics (Budget Hero), electronic literature (1000 Days of Syria), or quiz/puzzle-based games (Scoople).
- #Hacked simulates the role of an investigative journalist who is working against a timeline to learn as much information about the Syrian War as possible.
- The Voter Suppression Trail is a simulation game which highlights the issues in the American voting system.
- The Good, The Bad and The Accountant players are the general manager of a city and have to juggle corruption.
- Syrian Journey puts players in the role of a Syrian refugee who just sold all of their possessions.
- NarcoGuerra, a game based on the War on Drugs and Mexican Drug War released in June 2013.
- Endgame:Syria, a game exploring the Syrian Civil war that started in March 2011 which was refused by Apple's App Store and created a debate around the role of games, news and their distribution as a result.
- Madrid, a game about memorializing the Madrid bombings.
- September 12th, a game about civilian casualties in the war on terror.
- Darfur is Dying, a game about the crisis of refugees in Darfur.
- Bacteria Salad, a game about the spinach E. colli contamination of 2006.
- Jogo da Máfia, a Brazilian game that explains how globalized mafia works.
- Filosofighters, a journalistic game that explains basic philosophy concepts.
- Snowden Run 3D, a game based on the events surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden
- 1000 Days of Syria, a hypertext-based historical fiction game timelining the first 1000 days of the Syrian conflict.
- Hong Kong Protest Game, a satirical newsgame to highlight the trials and tribulation of street protesters.
- Archanoid, an arcade game based on Breakout (Arkanoid) which describes the destruction of over 500 historical buildings in Moscow.
- HeartSaver: An Experimental News Game, April 2013 GEN Editors' Lab Hackathon, by Al Shaw, Sisi Wei and Amanda Zamora
- Budget Hero, a so-called "policy flight simulator."
- How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk - dialect quiz from The New York Times
- Can You Make It Through This Post Without Saying “Awww”? - Buzzfeed picture-based article
The format started with a game called September 12th by Gonzalo Frasca, published in 2003. In September 12th, you are positioned in a plane in the sky, reticule on a village in a Middle Eastern setting. You are searching for a terrorist. When you spot him, you need to kill him, that is your mission. But the reticule is broad, and the village busy with regular civilians; women and children included, collateral damage is unavoidable. Of course you shoot when the terrorist is in a quiet area, but a time delay between your shooting and the missile arriving, could cause the area to be not so quiet anymore. When the village is hit, you might have missed the terrorist, you are sure to have created a lot of damage, and a regular civilian is turned into another terrorist. Instead of reducing the number of terrorists, your action increased their number.
This marks the start of the format, games in which sides which are not reported by regular news are to be experienced. Not only reflective on our actions, but most of the time also controversial.
- Sicart, M. “Newsgames: Theory and Design”. International Conference on Entertainment Computing. Pittsburgh, PA. 2008.
- Treanor, Mike; Mateas, Michael. Newsgames: Procedural Rhetoric meets Political Cartoons.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-06-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), "Newsgames: Journalism at Play," p. 6, by Ian Bogost, Simon Farrari, and Bobby Schweizer.
- "MADRID". Newsgaming.com. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "September 12th". Newsgaming.com. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Darfur Is Dying - Play mtvU's Darfur refugee game for change". Archived from the original on 2006-08-03.
- "Bacteria Salad - Free Strategy Game from". AddictingGames. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- Kawazu, Edição: Fred di Giacomo, Rafael Kenski, André Sirangelo e Alexandre Versignassi. Reportagem: Maurício Horta. Desenvolvimento e design: Douglas. "Newsgame: O Jogo da Máfia - Superinteressante". super.abril.com.br. Archived from the original on 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- Zanotello, Idealização: Raoni Maddalena; Edição: Frederico di Giacomo e Kleyson Barbosa; Design, Interface e Som: Daniel Apolinario; Programação: Gil Beyruth; Ilustração e animação: Alisson Lima; Texto: Otavio Cohen; Agradecimento: Ana Prado, Breno Castro Alves, Bruno Xavier, Fabiane Zambon, Luiz. "Filosofighters". Superinteressante - Abril. Archived from the original on 2015-08-18. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- "1000 Days of Syria". Mitch Swenson. Retrieved 2014-05-04.
- "Hong Kong Protest Game". a case study by MarketJS. Archived from the original on 2014-10-20.
- "Mobile game documents demolition of historic Moscow buildings".
- Shaw, By Al; Wei, Sisi; Zamora, Amanda (22 April 2013). "HeartSaver: An Experimental News Game". ProPublica. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- "Budget Hero, a game about debt we SHOULD play | Games for Change". www.gamesforchange.org. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- Katz, Josh. "How Y'all, Youse and You Guys Talk". Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- "Can You Make It Through This Post Without Saying "Awww"?". Retrieved 2015-09-17.
- ""Newsgames: Journalism at Play," p. 11, 12, by Ian Bogost, Simon Farrari, and Bobby Schweizer".
- Journalism and video games come together as a new form of storytelling in Brazil
- Play the News: Fun and Games in Digital Journalism, by Max Foxman, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, February 17, 2015 - "Link" (PDF). (654 KB) - on YouTube
- Games for Change - Newsgames category
- American University JOLT program - Inventory of Newsgames