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Thursday, July 03, 2008

24/7 Ticker Tape Parade

I want to tell you about a game called Play The News. It's made by Impact Games - the most hypocritical of game developers - for whilst Peacemaker emerged from their offices, their seemingly innocuous production process continues to churn out ammunition for debate with the 'games are mindless' clan. As critics fall, clutching their garlic, into conveniently placed prison colony furnaces, the power generated by Impact Games' minimal input (a website, a news story, and a decision for players) is highly efficient because it's the community which drives the brain-whirring mechanism of Play The News.

I'm uncertain whether Play The News ultimately qualifies as a game - it bears all the hallmarks of a modern news website, replete with reader's comments and the option for you to 'yay' or 'nay' the words of another person depending on whether they rung true or struck you as tone-deaf; yet the archetypes of gaming will swiftly be evidenced to you after the topsoil is unearthed. You'll be wooed by Play The News' achievements - become a Charismatic Debater by posting 10 comments and earning a yay or nay for each, or achieve Presidency of the USA by establishing principles then abandoning them for electoral gain (this last example may not be part of the game) - but the most woosome way Play The News flaunts its gaming credentials is by ensuring your interactions are meaningful by asking you to opine and predict upon the outcomes of ongoing events, and emailing you when the results are out. In my opinion, readers disgustingly transform into gamers when their interactions result in an emotion. People can experience pleasure through their sucessful interactions with a technology, and it's in this way that I believe Impact Games are encouraging people who'd normally not find an interest in the news to Play The News.

Play The News is free, follow the link on the top line of this article for more.


Joe said...

Playthenews.com is an example of new media journalism, incorporating a set of gathered facts in a context that allows the reader (player-user) to learn about a topic dealing with current events.

To use phrases like "the most hypocritical of game developers" and "their seemingly innocuous production process" isn't an informed comment, just a hack job.

This in depth "review", while devoid of facts, climaxes with Shadow and Dubble (excuse the lack of clever and alternating caps and lower case so popular with a certain crowd) climbing on their self constructed throne and declaring "I'm uncertain whether Play The News ultimately qualifies as a game" shows a lack of any depth in understanding of what is going on and an arrogance in the face of ignorance that I haven't seen in a while.

It reminds me of the line from the Dylan song, Mr. Jones, "There is something going on here Mr. Jones and you don't know what it is".

If you get tired of capturing gold pieces and would like to have a better understanding of world issues stop by Playthenewsgame.com, it isn't what some folks call a game, but maybe you'll find that you aren't just "some folks" and find it worth a few minutes less of Halo.

Peace out...

DuBBle said...

I think you've misunderstood the intent of this piece Joe. I love Play The News (Peacekeeper too) so when I say things like, "the most hypocritical of game developers [...] their seemingly innocuous production process continues to churn out ammunition for debate" I'm trying to be witty regarding Impact Games' pacifist stance simultaneously striking down critics who would suggest all games are mindlessly violent.

I stand by my uncertainty regarding whether or not Play The News is truly a game. I'd be happy to debate with you on this issue once your righteous outrage has subsided ;)

This isn't a review of Play The News - I won't be writing one of those until the game is out of beta. However, if you check back soon I might have an interview with a member of the Impact Games team.

Joe said...

Understood, perhaps I'm just being protective of a couple of guys that I'm very fond of, that I think are doing really important work that goes beyond any one individual opinion of what is a game.

Of course to a person who has always played non-violent games the ability to see the supposition that being a hypocritical game developer would mean that you make peaceful games. The debate about game violence pops up in political speeches now and then but all you have to do is look at games sales to see that argument has more legs inside the "hardcore" gamer community than outside.

There is a natural tension in that one group touts games as educational tools, sometimes leading the more simple minded down the path that playing violent games teaches violence. As you most likely know there is just as much data that shows that simulated violence in games has no casual effect on the rate of violence.

Sorry if I jumped to a wrong conclusion due to a lack of context with you comments, glad to hear you like PeaceMaker and Play the News, I love them both also. They are very different, PeaceMaker felt like an interactive documentary, 2-8 hours of interesting material and a much deeper understanding of the iconic conflict of our times, pretty good deal for $20 these days.

As an old newspaper guy, the new journalism they have developed in Play the News is so far ahead that many people will have to work a little to get it, being that better citizens actually understand issues vs. having them told to them by big head talkers in all of the old school news channels.

Is it perfect? The answer to clueless voting and misunderstood social, government and business issues for all time? I won't say that but I will say that it is a very good start whatever you decide that it is.

DuBBle said...

Phew! Thanks for checking back Joe, I thought I might have offended you and then lost you to the abyss :)

The UK's stuck in a mire of political apathy, with great power gains being made in government as our mainstream media seemingly condones the theft of liberty by failing to fulfil their role as critics and defenders of democracy. Play The News strikes me as an antidote to apathy - users/players are briefly informed and then prompted to engage with the material, to make up their own mind. An engaged citizenship is the ideal embodiment of the 'third estate' - exactly the sort of questioning, non-accepting, considered community I see forming under Play The News.

My greatest concern regarding Play The News is that users are only enabled to a certain extent - the 'Your Opinion' and 'Your Prediction' choices are finite and provided (I assume) by a few members of the Impact Games team.

By allowing users to add their own choices, I think Impact Games would encourage their players to think more critically than they presently do. Perhaps if none of the choices were provided by the administrators then Play The News could stand as the antithesis of 'sofa style' passive, accepting news consumption.