Category Archives: game the news

GameTheNews to Join Europe‘s First Newsgames Hackathon

The New York Times’ most popular story of 2013 was not an article. It was an interactive quiz. The Times They Are A-Changin. Games as the defining medium of the 21st century are obviously starting to disrupt journalism.

In order to accelerate this process the independent game studio, the Good Evil and the Cologne Game Lab are organising Europe‘s first Newsgames Hackathon in Cologne, Germany this spring.

Journalists, programmers and game designers are invited to conceptualise and produce working prototypes in 48 hours. The results will then be presented during this years Clash of Realities, an international acclaimed computer game conference.

The young genre has already been tried out worldwide by innovative media companies like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Wired, BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian and Le Monde.

“In a clear distinction to classical linear approaches Newsgames allow the interactive experience of content and are very well suited to explain systems“, says Marcus Bösch. The german journalist and co-founder of the Good Evil is the Hackathon’s initiator.

For several years he has been busy exploring Newsgames. After having given workshops, talks and media appearances on the topic he, together with his game studio, has designed PRISM – The Game: Germany‘s very first Newsgame, published by Arte Future.

Now the Good Evil in cooperation with the Cologne Game Lab, an institute of the Cologne University of Applied Science, wants to bring together journalists, game designers and programmers on May 6th and 7th.  Dr. Tomas Rawlings from GameTheNews, shortlisted for a GamesIndustry.biz Innovation Award, will hold a keynote,“We see newsgames as a means of talking to gamers about the world around them in a language they understand. Games as a form has expanded and we’re seeing them being put to use for everything from curing cancer to teaching maths. When it comes to news and current affairs we’re right at the start of an exciting journey.“

Attendance to the event is free of charge. Anyone interested can apply online until March 20th: http://newsgames-hackathon.tumblr.com/applyhttp://newsgames-hackathon.tumblr.com/apply Participants from Austria or Switzerland can apply for a scholarship that covers travel and hotel costs thanks to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Forum Journalismus und Medien in Vienna. Deutsche Welle, Germany‘s international broadcaster is the main media partner of the event.

Newsgames Hackathon. May 6th and 7th in Cologne, Germany. The results will be presented during this years Clash of Realities Conference on May 8th.

Coverage:

Auroch Digital Shortlisted for GamesIndustry Innovation Award!

Auroch Digital’s Game the News project has been shortlisted for Innovation in Social Responsibility at GamesIndustry Innovation Awards! We’re incredibly honoured to be shortlisted amongst so many worthy and amazing projects. Here’s the full list of the category we’re in:

Gaming has always been about fun: bringing some goodness into the world via the medium of play. With this prize we hope to celebrate those companies who choose to give something back to their communities and society at large ­ either through direct work for charity (or by being a charity itself), making staff feel valued or the support of good causes with fundraising drives or sponsorship. With the mainstream press still happy to keep games at the front of the evil scapegoat folder, these are the initiatives which are fighting back.

DonateGames

Like any charity, DonateGames relies on the generosity of its patrons, but by focusing on the donation of unwanted games and hardware instead of cash, this group lets people clean their lofts and their consciences in one fell swoop.

HumbleBundle

What began as a way of garnering attention for indie titles whilst also giving to several charities, the Humble Bundle now attracts the world’s biggest publishers. By giving the customer the power over how much goes where, Humble Bundle has made its giving completely transparent and hugely popular.

GametheNews.net

Encouraging young people to take an interest in the world of current affairs isn’t easy, but Auroch Digital’s project has produced 15 educational short games which bring today’s key issues to the fore in a memorable and enjoyable fashion.

Special Effect

Special Effect changes lives. It might not have the scope of some of the projects here, but an incredible bespoke service and tremendous levels of engagement and after care have made it one of the industry’s most treasured and admired outfits.

RuneScape – Well of Goodwill Initiative

Proof that free-to-play can definitely be used for good, this in-game fundraiser from Jagex raised over $90,000 for good causes as players donated in-game funds equivalent to thousands of hours of effort.

GamesAid

Supporting a wide range of charities voted for members, GamesAid is never afraid to try something new to raise money. A constant calendar of events and interesting new activities keeps this charity at the forefront of industry minds year round – raising over £1 million for good causes in the process.

A special day for James – Total War: ROME II

A truly personal event dedicated to a single member of the Total War community, A special day for James helped realise the dreams of a terminally ill young man suffering from liver cancer, bringing together the studio’s staff and players for a cause which touched more than just one life.

Please vote for us here, if you think we deserve it of course!

Gamifying ‘Jack the Ripper’?

9th November, 2013: On the 125th anniversary of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, Bristol based indie GameTheNews announces a new title based on the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders.

Today, Friday 8 November 2013, Bristol-based indie GameTheNews.net announces its latest development, a new title based on the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders called JtR125, one of six new collaborations between filmmakers, academic researchers and creative companies as part of the REACT Future Documentary Sandbox, a nationwide programme to explore the theme of Future Documentary funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

jtr5

125 years ago Mary Jane Kelly was murdered, her badly mutilated body found by a rent collector seeking her arrears on the morning of November 9, 1888. The terrible nature of the murders by Jack The Ripper, who himself was never brought to justice, has ensured the ‘Ripper’ killings remain a mystery that still repulses, contests, fascinates and resonates today.

GameTheNews.net, known for taking a bold approach to difficult subjects using games to address tough news stories, is applying game and documentary mechanics to their latest subject, Jack the Ripper, to find out what lessons are still to be learned. The lead developer on JtR125, Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital who produces GamesTheNews, says, “we’re not going to make a first-person Ripper game about the killer – we’re much more interested in the society that created the conditions that allowed this to happen and the plight of his victims. The fact that 125 years later we’re still talking about this suggests to me that there are lessons still to be learned. The events themselves were a catalyst for social change. It was also a key time in the birth of a number of areas of our society, notably the tabloid newspapers and forensic science. We’re keen to create an interactive documentary using the medium of games and allow the player to explore the issues and events themselves.”

As part of the Future Documentary Sandbox Rawlings has been paired with Patrick Crogan, games and digital media expert, University of the West of England, and Professor of Media and Journalism at Middlesex, Janet Jones.

Dr Crogan commented, “JtR125 is certainly pushing the envelope of both documentary and game formats. There are some risks with treating historical material the wrong way, and we don’t want to simply repeat the way many commercial games bolster their realism with bits of archival footage of war or other major historical events. With the development of apps other interactive forms there’s real potential to make a powerful and thoughtful experience that opens up new perspectives for people about something like the Ripper mystery.”

Professor Jones remarked, “The idea with JtR125 is to test the break-down of generic boundaries between games and serious documentary so that the world can be reported in a potentially more dynamic and investigative way that might better engage younger audiences accustomed to finding things out through digital play. Maybe in five or ten years time, every BBC newsroom will have a gaming desk alongside Radio, TV and online. We’re focusing on how we might create acceptable templates for merging archive, talking head (all the traditional factual production conventions) within a game framework without destroying the experience or breaking the creative paradigm. There are undoubtedly lines to be drawn here and as we develop the Jack the Ripper game we hope to be able to draw those lines more clearly.”

Related Links/Tweets:

Banned War Game is Now Shakespeare Themed Fun for Kids

Auroch Digital has just completed 3 games for Shakespeare’s Globe. Here is the press release about them:

GameTheNews, the developer of topical newsgames such as Endgame:Syria and NarcoGuerra has turned its development skills into a different area; kids games. The GameTheNews’s hosting company, Auroch Digital has developed three titles for the launch of a new digital games site at Shakespeare’s Globe, which has commissioned a number of fun activities for children in their new online ‘Playground‘ area.

What people may find a little surprising about one of the contributions to new site is that one of the games, Hemmings Play Company, is based on the gameplay engine of their controversial release Endgame:Syria. This latter title focused on the ongoing civil war in Syria. The game was banned from the Apple Store, ultimately only finding it’s way onto the market place re-branded as Endgame:Eurasia. In Hemmings Play Company the player is tasked with helping Hemmings, a bear in charge of a theatre troupe of other animals, with earning enough money to rebuild the theatre after it’s inevitable destruction. The tanks and assassins of End Game have been replaced with the Globe’s own colourful cartoon characters striving to give a good performance for their audience and deal with the daily challenges of running a theatre.

GameTheNews’s other contributions include Lute Hero; a music based rhythm game where you assist Sly the fox in playing popular old English songs such as Greensleeves and the Grand Old Duke of York. And Kit’s Wardrobe Challenge a fast paced arcade game where the player attempts to rapidly clean and repair the various costumes used during a period performance. This game is an adaptation of GameTheNews’s other popular comment on the house-meat scandal, Cow Crusher. GameTheNews’s Tomas Rawlings said, “These bold adaptations of our existing titles show how the dynamics of a game should not be confused with its subject matter. If the core functionally is robust and game play intuitive, they can become the canvass for a variety of great projects. That is just what we were able to show while working on the Globe Playground.”

Hemmings Play Company Screenshot

Hemmings Play Company Screenshot

Some of the links to this story:

Endgame:Syria Developer Turns from Civil War to Drug War with NarcoGuerra

Newsgame developer GameTheNews.net, today released it’s latest offering; a game about the War on Drugs in Mexico entitled NarcoGuerra. GameTheNews.net caused a huge debate following Apple’s controversial decision to reject Endgame:Syria from the App Store. This new game examines the ongoing conflict from the perspective of the Mexican authorities trying to stamp out the drug trade within their borders. In NarcoGuerra the player must attempt to retake Mexico’s regions from cartels while also dealing with corruption within the police force itself.

As part of the global War on Drugs, the conflict in Mexico escalated around 2008 and since that point the human cost has been very high, with over 80,000 people having been killed. Rawlings defends the use of this as subject matter for a game, “Better that we are talking about this topic and why it is happening, whatever the medium being used, than we turn a blind eye and pretend it is not going on. Games are part of the way we understand the world we live in and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done on this game as it engages people while expanding that global conversation.” The game’s designer, Tomas Rawlings remarked, “The War on Drugs has been going for over 40 years now and we wanted to explore why that is. In reflecting the world around us a singer might write a song, a filmmaker produces a documentary and a journalist writes an article, as games developers we express our interest via games. But just because our form of expression is through games, this doesn’t mean we take the subject any less seriously. This game aims to engage players in the issue and get them to think about why this war is still going on despite the billion spent on it.”

NarcoGuerra is now out on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, PC and Mac for $0.99/£0.59/€0.79. This is the first newsgame that GameTheNews.net have charged for, with all their past titles having been released for free. Rawlings commented on this decision, “This game is the biggest newsgame we’ve created which has taken a lot of time, effort and expense. Charging a small amount for this title helps us cover the costs of our highly talented development team and funds us to continue creating newsgames, many of which will be free. This is a premium newsgame and I think it is right that its price reflects the efforts to create it. All news organisations have to make income to pay staff – we’re no different in that respect.”

Screenshot from NarcoGuerra

Screenshot from NarcoGuerra

NarcoGuerra - Can you End the Unending War?

NarcoGuerra – Can you End the Unending War?

NarcoGuerra Screenshot

Press Coverage:

“Game the News is one of the more interesting indie game developers working at the moment: specialising in games based on topical news stories and campaigns.” Stuart Dredge, The Guardian

Endgame Syria launched on Apple without reference to ‘Syria’, also updated on Android and Released on Facebook and PC

21st MARCH 2012, BRISTOL, UK: The controversial newsgame, Endgame Syria, has been updated on Android and released on two new platforms - PC and Facebook and yet the developer is still struggling to release the original title on Apple’s App Store.  After three rejections, the developer has had to not only remove references to specific groups that are part of the conflict, but  any reference to aswell as the actual word ‘Syria’ too.  As a result the much-amended version of Endgame:Syria has made it past Apple’s approval process as ‘Endgame:Eurasia‘.

The developer, GameTheNews.net’s Tomas Rawlings remarked, “We’ve come to the end of three rejections and one appeal and the only way we’ve been able to get Endgame:Syria out on iOS was to remove all references to the real world and sadly that changes it from a ‘newsgame’ into just a ‘game’.  We’ve released this game version so at least players with Apple devices can get a feel for what we originally intended for the platform.  We are of course disappointed to not be able to release the game and hope that our experience informs a wider debate about how games have matured into a form that would benefit from a reappraisal by some.”  To help players using the App Store version to get a feel for the original title they have released a conversion guide to explain how the wording of the game has had to be changed.  By contrast to Apple’s policy decision, Endgame:Syria has been recognized by Games For Change, one of the world’s leading exponents of how games can be used beyond play.

The updated version on Android and for PC adds newer events from the ongoing war including Scud Missile strikes and the enhanced fears over WMDs.  The game is free and available now from Google Play.  It is also free on PC and can be downloaded from Desura, GamersGate, IndieCity, Indievania, and GameJolt.

Endgame:Syria was launched last year and allows players to explore the difficulties and options open to the rebel side in the ongoing Syrian civil war. The game attracted wide coverage for not only its subject matter but how it was received by gaming and non-gaming audiences.  The developer, GameTheNews.net, has released a wide variety of games that explore current affairs from a commentary on the horse-meat scandal to covering science and technology news.

Endgame Syria to Eurasia

Endgame Syria to Eurasia

Card Changes in Endgame:Syria

Card Changes in Endgame:Syria

Some of the coverage of this release includes:

Newsgame Offers Wry Commentary on Horse Meat Scandal

BRISTOL, UK MARCH 4th, 2013: The creators of Endgame:Syria have turned their development attention to the ongoing horse-meat scandal in their latest release.   In ‘Cow Crusher‘ the player runs their own meat processing plant and must ensure that its output is 100% beef, in an irreverent comment on the speed and mechanisation of our food  production process.  Players need to hit the right button to squish the animal into the right meat product and keep the quality high; while making sure they don’t process any horses in the works.  Cow Crusher is the latest game by GameTheNews.net with the development  taking around 3 days to create it’s newest newsgame.  GameTheNews’s design and production director Tomas Rawlings commented, “Cow Crusher is part of an ongoing experiment into how games can play a role in news and current affairs and this time we’ve opted for a more fun approach to the topic.”  The game is out now to play for free online as HTML5 and for Android devices via Google Play.

GameTheNews became a global talking-point following the release of ‘Endgame:Syria’ a game covering the ongoing war.  The developer says they are still “in process” with an Apple version of  Endgame:Syria and also have another serious title in production themed around the War on Drugs in Mexico.

Cow Crusher by GameTheNews.net - click to play.

Cow Crusher by GameTheNews.net – click to play.

Coverage:

“As soon as I saw this game I had to get it, one; For the humor, and two; Because it actually looked like a great game with continuous playability and that’s just what it is!” n3rdabl3.co.uk

First Syria, now Climate Change: Controversial Game Developers Explore Global Warming in New Game

BRISTOL, UK JANUARY 18th, 2013: Having made waves worldwide by covering the brutal Syrian civil war in the form of a game, the developers behind Endgame:Syria have released their latest ‘news game’ and this time the subject is not war, but carbon.  Titled ‘Climate Defense‘ the free game released today for Android devices, offers the player the chance to stop CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere by capturing it in nature’s carbon sinks, trees.  However there is a twist – before the game begins the player is offered a choice, if they want to play the game for fun or as a more realistic simulation – a choice that will lead to a very different gameplay experience.  The games designer, Tomas Rawlings, explained more; “Normally with a video game, the developers will have made huge concessions to ensure the game is fun so with a shooting game you may be able to be shot and recover many times over which is not realistic, but does make the game fun. In Climate Defense, that distinction is apparent so you can have fun playing the game or you can choose a more realistic experience and see how our continued emissions will impact our world.”  The game is free to download from the Google Play store or from the GameTheNews website.

The creators of both games, GameTheNews, became a global talking point over their release of a game covering an ongoing war, have clearly decided that making games about difficult and controversial topics is not something they are willing to shy away from.  There is no sign of them turning to the more traditional topics of gaming such as zombies or aliens and they are currently developing a game about the ‘War on Drugs’.

Screenshot from ‘Climate Defense’ Click to Download from Google Play.

Endgame:Syria Becomes Global Talking-Point

Our GameTheNews.net project recently released what is, the world’s first game to cover an ongoing war as news.  This newly emergent form of media, ‘news games’ and our contribution to the form, ‘Endgame:Syria’, has seen a huge surge in interest and players following its rejection by Apple’s App Store (though it is online and on Android).  As a result GameTheNews.net and Endgame:Syria have become global talking-points, having recently been given extensive coverage by the BBC, the Economist, The Guardian, Venture Beat, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al-Jazeera to name but a few.  (There is a list of articles here and more on the reaction over at the designer’s personal blog.)  Below are two examples of the coverage, starting with an article on Foreign Policy:

Many people would be hard-pressed to find Syria on a map, let alone know the factions that are fighting and the outside nations that are backing them. A simple computer card game may not be deep, but when players ponder whether to play a “Saudi Support for the Rebels” or a “Rebels Assassinate Key Regime Leader” card, they are making decisions, and that is how humans learn best. Perhaps it will spur them to learn more current events, or if nothing else, they may remember a few names and places, and who is fighting who. At the least, they will learn a lot more than playing Angry Birds on an iPhone.

Wired made these key points on the discussion:

As gamers, we are generally happy to delve into historical battles such as World War II in Medal of Honor, despite the devastation, violence and death, and barely an eyelid was batted when the genre moved into modern warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan with its latter sequels. However, delving into an ongoing conflict, where tensions are extremely high and the subject matter sensitive, is another matter entirely. .. By addressing a current civil war and its multiple factions and infinite social complexities, Endgame: Syria is not giving us any answers — it’s encouraging us to ask more questions.

Try Endgame:Syria for yourself at GameTheNews.net!

The next newsgames to be released from GameTheNews are currently in development about the War on Drugs and Climate Change, coming soon!

Endgame:Syria screenshot

Endgame:Syria screenshot

Game Exposes Cruelty of Child Labor in Uzbekistan

BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 18th, 2012: GameTheNews.net, the team turning news into games have released their latest offerings; ‘My Cotton Picking Life‘ a game about the cruelty of child labor in Uzbekistan. The game puts the player in the role of a cotton-picker in the former Soviet state of Uzbekistan, where vast amounts of men, women and children are forced into picking cotton for the enrichment of the regime and to supply cheap material that ends up on the shelves of western stores. The game’s designer, Tomas Rawlings remarked, “The game replicates the monotony of the work these children have to do – we challenge the player to see how long they can last as a cotton picker and point out that while they can quit at any time, those forced into doing this sort of work don’t have that luxury.” The game is free and available now on the Google Playstore and on their website at http://bit.ly/mycottonpickinglife

The game took only a day to create and continues the developers direction of making games that target difficult issues, their previous game being an exploration of the Syrian conflict titled, ‘Endgame Syria‘. Both projects were created using GameMaker Studio development technology. Game the News is supported by the University of Abertay Dundee’s Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.

cottonpicker_screenshot1

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Coverage: