December 2010 Archives
Chicago Public Radio's weekly quiz game Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! combines the famously calming voices of NPR with short answer news trivia. The result is an entertaining way for listeners to keep up with current events. What effects do the show's qualities as a game have on its delivery of news content?
Allow me to get this out of the way: newsgames are not the "gamification" of the news. Gamification is a term adopted by marketers who, in an effort to retain audience, have taken to adding points systems to products. These points have nothing to do with games and everything to do with intangible incentives for repeat patronage.
A few months ago The Huffington Post launched a "social news service" called Predict the News. As the name would imply, the website polls users on the outcome of events. Though I may think very little of online polls, I'm not fundamentally opposed to them. They serve the small (albeit inconsequential) purpose of letting people voice their opinion through quick declaration. But people like to be counted, so who am I to deny them the pleasure of checking boxes? Polls also bring people to websites where they might engage in with the news. So what's the problem?
Fantasy sports have evolved since their invention in the mid-twentieth century, but the basic structure has always been fairly consistent. Fantasy leagues enable groups of sports fans to "draft" individual players from across the corresponding real league into new, fictitious teams, and each player's individual stats from real games contribute to the corresponding fantasy team's performance.