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Newsgames: Journalism at Play

Newsgames: Journalism at Play [Kindle Edition]

Ian Bogost , Simon Ferrari , Bobby Schweizer

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"Newsgames pushes the profession to think differently about how current events can be turned into systems of scenarios and variables, instead of mere stories." Alyssa Abkowitz Columbia Journalism Review "In their well-researched and intriguing new book Newsgames: Journalism at Play, Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari and Bobby Schweizer examine the practice of fusing gaming with journalism. It's not a new idea. From before personal computers, with games like 'Diplomacy' and 'Risk' to early computer games, such as 'Balance of Power' and 'Hidden Agenda,' front-page reality and game-room fantasy have meshed well. Newsgames suggests this link should get stronger by purposefully employing gaming to convey news of the day. And it sets down a challenge, not to gamers, but to journalists." Michael Humphrey Technology, "Techno-tainers" blog

Product Description

Journalism has embraced digital media in its struggle to survive. But most online journalism just translates existing practices to the Web: stories are written and edited as they are for print; video and audio features are produced as they would be for television and radio. The authors of <I>Newsgames</I> propose a new way of doing good journalism: videogames. Videogames are native to computers rather than a digitized form of prior media. Games simulate how things work by constructing interactive models; journalism as game involves more than just revisiting old forms of news production. <I>Wired</I> magazine's game <I>Cutthroat Capitalism</I>, for example, explains the economics of Somali piracy by putting the player in command of a pirate ship, offering choices for hostage negotiation strategies. Videogames do not offer a panacea for the ills of contemporary news organizations. But if the industry embraces them as a viable method of doing journalism--not just an occasional treat for online readers--newsgames can make a valuable contribution.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4314 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (21 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HD49P8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #735,604 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A smart, well-executed book 12 Nov 2010
By betajames - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
2.0 out of 5 stars Its a bit pedantic and more inside baseball than I'd wanted 28 Mar 2013
By frank silverstein - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a journalist who seeks to find language that is clear and accessible, it's a bit annoying to read this, but much of the information is useful. It feels like the writer is trying to create intellectual categories which this reader was less interested in hearing about.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for Beginners and Regulars 20 April 2011
By Michael Battle - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
'Newsgames' is a great book for someone just getting interested in videogames or for those looking for new direction in the medium. The basic gist is that games are better for teaching systems than the written word because people can tinker around and learn through experimenting. It then expands that concept out into really interesting places by seeing what happens when it's applied to both journalist traditions and unconventional game designs.

ARGs, opinion columns, community building, and mass communication are all covered and given a new twist. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was that it took the time to explain basic concepts and principles like semiotic domains, simulation gaps, and basic design principles. That way someone whose unfamiliar with video games can still get a lot out of the book.

A good read for newcomers and regulars to the subject of video games.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good overview 22 Nov 2010
By Eirik Stavelin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is perhaps the only book so far that draws the connection between gaming/game studies and journalism/news as a main topic? The book gives a great overview and sports very good illustrated examples. The book is written in a precise yet easily understood language, and should be of interest to people way outside the scope of academic studies of news/games.
1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Leaves many questions and some incorrect problem specs 18 Feb 2012
By Jeedgr - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bogost's book has its problems. He is a writer of "games" software as are many different companies that contract with many different government, business and institutional agencies yet he does not discuss much about these businesses. He only gives one or two examples of Newspapers making use of the "games" type of models, one being in Rochester, NY to sort views and opinions about how the city might re-establish itself. Of course, we've all read about war games of various kinds; its been going on historically forever but these are not covered. The book discusses some of the interactive climate and environmental models and their fallacies pretty accurately, but does not discuss the worst of them which is Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis model which sort of grew from the "Club of Rome" group and has been quite influential. Finally, the energy models are based on supply running out with extreme conflict. However, the day to day changes that affect peoples perceptions are dictated by expert knowledge of how many tankers are standing by at sea, how many are empty, and rates of refinery production in the Netherlands for US supply where rifineries are shutting down due to age and uncertain environmental restrictions. Certainly an expert model exists for petroleum built arround these economics, but the authors challenge is to present a model for the consumer that gives a choice between overseas production and US regulatory limmits. The last chapter of the book is related to getting news and web outlets to adapt the gaming approach, the NYTimes contracting with the author to try it, and deciding it was not really helping.
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