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Games and journalism: Now that journalism is in trouble, why not play with it?

Karthika Muthukumaraswamy looks at how games have been used in online journalism.

BlackBerrys, iPods and Kindles are not enough anymore. Let’s add a joystick to the expanding repertoire of tools available to news consumers.

Gaming is often overlooked as a tool for disseminating news. Online games are attempting to explain the economy through the politics of oil, educate users on disaster readiness in the context of Hurricane Katrina and, perhaps more in line with traditional video games, some are exploring the various military operations implemented in the Iraq war. In a strange likeness to fantasy sports, one game allowed people to draft their own cabinet picks for Obama’s then-new administration.

Nick Diakopoulos, a researcher at the Georgia Tech Journalism and Games Project, gives one compelling reason for the media to turn to online games: they offer a format that would wean away from the current emphasis on unusual and inopportune events, focusing instead on more process-oriented journalism. How many times do you hear about a specific incident or event that killed troops or civilians in Iraq, without any knowledge whatsoever of the military operation that caused it? Continue reading

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