News games, sometimes called news games, are a niche of online game culture which attempt to apply ethical journalistic principles to the development of their games. There are an infinite number of possible topics one could explore in a game of this type, allowing players to become immersed in what is happening in the world around them. They may fall into several broad categories, including historical real-life events, documentary, informational simulation, and puzzle and trivia games.
News games combine elements of both news reporting and gaming into a medium of communication and social observation. This combination has produced some interesting results in the online gaming community. Some news game websites are explicitly news-based, such as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, while others are hosted by news media outlets with news bent themselves, such as the Associated Press’ Web site. A unique feature of many video games is the element of user-generated journalism; this is particularly true of news games which make use of crowd sourcing as a way of getting regular people to report on events they may be interested in.
In this vein of thinking, it seems that there are two major classes of people playing news games: those who are participating in crowd sourced journalism and those who are participating in an attempt to solve a story through investigation and deduction. The distinction between these two groups becomes important at different points in the game. At higher levels of play, for example, some news games may actually require players to seek out and report on a specific piece of information through a variety of methods. At other times, they will need to employ more traditional investigative techniques.
If we are to take the idea of news games one step further, it would be useful to distinguish between news games which seek to tell a story and those which do not. Many news games which are popular online have storyline elements that revolve around a central theme. In many cases, this theme is a story, either historical or fictional, which has already been developed by the developers. These games therefore essentially function as a form of narrative fiction, which seeks to tell a story while using narrative elements as the vehicle to deliver that story to the player. The distinction here is between telling a story in which the player has some sort of active role in the development of the plot and story elements and actively seeking out and reporting on facts which help the plot evolve and progress.
The point I am trying to make here is that the difference between news games which seek to tell a story in which the player actively has an involvement and those which do not, really only comes in the form of one particular element of the mechanics of the game. In the case of news games which seek to develop a plot, that element is the investigative system which allows the player to actively seek out and report on information which helps to advance the plot. For example, in the highly successful Wikileaks game, the website Wikileaks uses a system of volunteer editors whose only job is to search through large numbers of classified government documents and pick and choose their most relevant information and then distribute this information via the internet in various formats. While a player does indeed have some degree of active involvement in how the information is released, they are not actually required to do anything besides searching through potentially hundreds of different documents and finding their most important ones. This is in contrast to a traditional game where the player is actively involved in every stage of the investigation which requires them to physically seek out information and in many instances, makes them commit crimes such as hacking in order to get the information they need.
Learning how to write a template message is a key skill required for those wanting to try their hand at playing news games that involve a narrative structure. Template messages in this genre typically act as prompts to the player to make a certain decision. For example, in the game named “Leak”, one of the main characters goes on a quest and is given a list of items he needs to acquire. The list includes a category which separates each item by its location and its type. By using a template message, the player can indicate which of the items in each category he is interested in finding and completing before moving onto the next item in the list.