One growing voice on the potential of games for positive impact is the embattled field of journalism. The news media has begun growing in awareness of the power of games to communicate the news in a fuller way while also fostering deeper interactions between them and their audience. In a recent article in the Atlantic profesor Ian Bogost or Georgia Tech shared about the concept of digital "newsgames". Dr. Bogost described several genres of newsgames:
1) Editorial Games- games that replace the editorial or comic strip and seek to persuade the player to adopt a certain position (he illustrates this using September 12th, a game created to address the "war on terror").
2) Current Events Games- these games help the player to interact in a more detailed way with a current event which then allows them to understand more fully the dynamics that have created the event. An example of this was Wired's reporting on the Somali pirate crisis. Wired included a free game Cutthroat Capitalism in which the player acted out the part of the pirate. Playing the game helped Wired's audience to more fully understand the economic realities faced by Somalis and the draw that piracy had for them.
3) Infographic Games- these allow the player to interact with information in a visual format. Depending on how the player moves different information is exposed, expanded upon, etc. in a visual, rather than textual, way (Cutthroat Capitalism also uses the infographic game paradigm).
4) Documentary Games- "titles that engage broader historical and current events in a manner similar to documentary photography, cinema, and investigative reporting. Usually larger in scale and scope, these games offer experiences of newsworthy events, something impossible to capture in print or broadcast news. In the case of past events, they recreate times, spaces, and systems that one can otherwise only understand from archival film footage or imagination."
5) Puzzle Games- games which require the reader to either discover the answer or get quizzed on a subject
6) Literacy Games- games which can train journalists in the skills of their trade
7) Community games- games which can create, nurture or direct community
Dr. Bogost goes on to imagine how newsgames could be used to transform the news:
what if a news organization released a documentary game "yearbook" about the changes in a local community? What if Yoshi the dinosaur from Super Mario World needed health care, and he had to buy insurance at the going rates? What if the dynamics of New York City racketeering laws could be operationalized in Grand Theft Auto?
These possibilities suggest how journalists might think about what they do in new ways, instead of simply translating old media for digital distribution
In closing, Dr. Bogost says "Newsgames are not a charmed salve that will cure the ills of news organizations overnight. But they do represent a real and viable opportunity to help citizens form beliefs and make decisions."
Can we step back and imagine how games might help the unreached form a new mindset about the Lord Jesus Christ? How they could assist in their making decisions to follow Him? Mobiles can provide the screen but here’s a way to take mobile content to a whole new level! Don’t think this is just pie in the sky ideas- this is not a pipe dream as you can see in this two minute ABC World News video webcast showing how educators in India are using games on mobiles to teach English to children there.
Take a few minutes to go down the list of games types Dr. Bogost described and imagine games that could be developed which might bring the good news to the unreached, develop church pastors, disciple new believers, teach the Bible to children, etc. etc.! Perhaps you could even go and play one of the games mentioned above just to see what the experience is like as you think the possibilities through.
Please don't keep your ideas to yourself- share them via the comment tab or Forum and let’s work together to see if we can't move even just one of these from concept to reality!!!
Newsgames Blog at Georgia Tech
Book: Newsgames- Journalism at Play (Ian Bogost)
Open Learning's List of the Top 100 Learning Game Web Resources
Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (mobile game learning in India)