Newsgames is a better, clearer, and more cohesive argument for why videogames matter than Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. Newsgames lacks the experiential, personal perspective so prevalent in Extra Lives, a perspective that I think harms many discussions about the potential of videogames. Lacking this perspective, Newsgames executes a specific argument without falling into revelry, making for greater clarity. (I think Gee's What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy is a rarity in that personal experience does not get in the way of the larger argument about the particular value(s) of gaming.) By using Wired's Cutthroat Capitalism as an introductory example of how videogames "can do good journalism, both as an independent medium for news and as a supplement to traditional forms of coverage" (5), the authors lay appropriate groundwork for a more in-depth discussion, one sustained through each subsequent chapter of the book.
Other games discussed include September 12th, Budget Hero, JFK Reloaded, Crickler, and World Without Oil, and the authors describe each as a particular kind of newsgame with unique aims and goals. They also discuss the importance of literacy as well as platforms for designing and executing future games. In fact, the former may be an appropriate entry point for some as not only it offers up better-known videogames as examples but it also discusses "teaching the practice" (115) of journalism.
Some might take Bogost, Ferrari and Schweizer to task for privileging example over theory in their discussion of "journalism at play." While mentioning Roger Caillois, Alexander Galloway, James Paul Gee, Johan Huizinga, Raph Koster, Jane McGonigal, Janet Murray, Miguel Sicart, and Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman as well as others whose work is important and/or influential to game studies, the authors do not allow theory to dominate. This is to Newsgames' benefit. Going lean on theory and heavy on examples is a smart move, making for a more effective argument. The authors show that there's much more out there being done than what a given audience, be it academic, general, or journalistic, might think. I thought I was up on a good amount of what's happening with such games, but Bogost, Ferrari, and Schweizer showed me otherwise. I appreciate that.
Others might express concern over the length of the book, but I'm all for digestible work. A close read of Newsgames will allow one to see potential areas of expansion, but it's worth mentioning that the Newsgames blog has done well so far in fulfilling those areas.
The care, interest, and knowledge the authors have in both videogames and journalism is evident, even inspiring. Here's an early question they pose: "What if the dynamics of New York City racketeering laws could be operationalized in Grand Theft Auto?" If such a question doesn't hold immediate intrigue for you, it will the more you read Newsgames.