ECGC 2019 Sessions

APRIL 16TH – 18TH, 2019

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Using the Games to Understand the World Around Us

April 17, 2019 at 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm

Room: 305B

By Lindsay Grace

As the world of journalism endures criticism, funding shortages, and a myriad of challenges in keeping audiences engaged, night games have answers? Based on 3 years of peer reviewed research, collaboration and professional work with leading news organizations, this talk provides lessons learned about the apex of game design and the news. More than merely sharing the continued development of newsgames, the talk shares lessons learned in bringing the sustained engagement strategies of games to the news industry.

By doing so, the talk outlines opportunities for indie developers to engage with news organizations, the strategies for effective games about current topics, and the principles of game design that have proven most effective in our team’s professional work. By employing the core tenets of experience-focused design, audience agency, and playful interactions the lessons learned from this professional work and research should prove useful to designers and developers of a variety of purpose driven games. The talk provides specific examples from the team’s recent portfolio, include the Factitious news literacy game (and derivatives), Polygon’s Final Fantasy Square Off, Washington DC’s National Public Radio’s Commuter Challenge and others. It uses these games out outline core principals in the emerging purpose-drive design practice known as engagement design.

The games used as case studies include:
Factitious, challenges players to detect fake stories from a set of real and fake online articles. It’s like Tinder for real news. The database-supported smartphone app was released in early July 2017 and quickly racked up more than 540,000 players judging more than 5 million articles in the first 3 weeks.

Final Fantasy Square Off:
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the classic role-playing game Final Fantasy 7. The Polygon author, Matt Leon, and our team collaborated on a battlequiz to accompany Final Fantasy 7: An Oral History .

Commuter Challenge, utilized original reporting to create a composite profile of a metro rider in the service industry. Produced for 88.5, Washington, DC’s NPR Affiliate, players experience the “metropocalypse” from the perspective of a service worker who relies on the metro. The game sharply increased engagement.

Hurl the Harasser, a game created game as part of the University of Miami’s Newsjam in 48 hours. The game was picked up by news organizations as near as North Carolina and as far as Jakarta, Indonesia.

Core takeaways include:
-Understanding what news organizations are looking for in games for their audiences
-Lessons learned in designing and developing engaging “serious games”
-Strategies for making serious game content more engaging.
-How to involve students in professional projects


April 17, 2019
3:15 pm - 4:15 pm
Event Category:


Analytics, Design, Education, Indie, Serious Games
Lindsay Grace