Tag Archives: GTN

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!

Royal Society invites online gamers to vote for their favourite science inspired game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.
The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further – perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July. The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia.
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said: “We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam. The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Auroch Digital produced the event and also developed a game for one of the exhibitions, Zombeetle & The Fossil Colour Quest.

 Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Some links to this:

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

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:

GameTheNews Launches Endgame Syria

Our GameTheNews.net project looking at creating games from news an current affairs has launched with a game about the war in Syria, Endgame Syria.  Here is the press release:

New Game Explores War in Syria

BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 13th, 2012: Games have been growing in force as a medium but still tend to be seen as pure entertainment. That perception is being challenged by a new release that explores the war in Syria in an interactive form, titled ‘Endgame Syria’. Developed as part of the new project GameTheNews.net, creators Auroch Digital are using rapid-game development methods to build games quickly in response to real-world events. Created in a development time of two weeks, the game allows users to explore the options open to the rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame. Each choice the user makes has consequences – the types of military units deployed, the political paths trodden. Not only does each choice impact the current situation but they also affect the final outcome. While the game was made rapidly, the developers report that even over the two weeks of development, they still had to change elements to reflect events happening in the real-world. “We wanted the events and actions in the game to mirror the real situation,” the game’s designer Tomas Rawlings explained, “So while creating this experience, we were also continually looking at the news and adding or removing components to keep the content current.” Endgame Syria is free to download.

Some may think that the choice of a game as a medium for this subject is questionable, but Tomas is adamant this is not the case, “As game developers, games are a natural way for us to express our thoughts on the world around us. Games don’t have to be frivolous or lightweight; they can and do take on serious issues and open them up to new audiences.”

Objections to the medium might be an issue of understanding the form, Tomas continues, “If the word ‘game’ is troubling then we’re happy for this to be called a ‘simulation’ or an ‘interactive experience’. For us, the point is that we’re using this medium as a means to express and explore the uncertainties of this situation. A game allows you to re-explore the same territory and see how different choices play out and understand that those choices have far-reaching consequences.”

The developers say that if this game brings the issues of the war to an audience who might otherwise not have engaged with it, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe will have been worthwhile. The game free to download for Android via Google Play and is available to play on the GameTheNews.net website as a HTML5 game and also due out on iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch imminently. Full details can be found at http://bit.ly/endgamesyria.

The project was 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.

We also launched with an article on GamesIndustry.biz looking at games, war and news:

By making Endgame Syria I hope that we’ve encouraged some people who didn’t know much about the situation in Syria, to find out more. After all, the chances are your taxes are going into this war in one form or another. We also hope that we’ve joined the ranks of other games that have been unafraid to take on serious subjects and cover them with sensitivity. If either of these are the case, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe and making games about shooting Nazis or grumpy avians will have been worthwhile.

Endgame Syria Screenshot

Endgame Syria Screenshot

Our Creative Director, Tomas has been looking at reactions to the game over on his blog.  We’ve also been getting coverage of the launch online:

Endgame: Syria is a neat little game that does not deserve being shackled to a small window in the browser. The game oozes quite some quality and is actually fun to play. Players familiar with card games like Magic: The Gathering should have no problems playing this game as the rules are very much simpler here.

The subject matter for Endgame: Syria should not however be looked on from a trivialized angle; people and civilian casualties are dying everyday over in Syria. Hopefully with this unique gamification approach, it will make more people aware of what is happening today in the beleaguered country of Syria.
Source: gameswarp.com

The iOS version of the game was rejected by Apple, which generated a lot of press interest in the project: