Title: Newsgames: Journalism at Play

Author: Ian Bogost

Publication Date: October 1, 2010

Publisher: The MIT Press

A book about the history and future of games in journalism. Co-authored with Simon Ferrari and Bobby Schweizer.

Newsgames offers a broad and comprehensive look at the past, present, and future uses of videogames in journalism. Research for this book was made possible by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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 Newsgames 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. The book describes newsgames that can persuade, inform, and titillate; make information interactive; recreate a historical event; put news content into a puzzle; teach journalism; and build a community. Wired magazine’s game Cutthroat Capitalism, for example, explains the economics of Somali piracy by putting the player in command of a pirate ship, offering choices for hostage negotiation strategies. And Powerful Robot’s game September 12th offers a model for a short, quickly produced, and widely distributed editorial newsgame.

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.