I am a huge fan of Civilization V, possibly the best game out there where you rise a glorious empire and guide it with wisdom during the centuries. After playing it for hours, there is a small lesson I think I have understood from the game mechanics: every action can trigger an unpredictable chain of events that may alter the course of history. And I have learnt that leading a country is a really complex job. Have you ever thought about that?
Your daily schedule may be resumed in a simple bullet point:
- Protect citizens from enemy invasion
- Provide food and occupations for everyone
- Push the economic spread
- Boost education countrywide
- Sing with the teletubbies (for the wellness of the young kids) while have meeting with the generals (for the peacekeeping) while saving a dolphin from an angler’s net (for the environment) while having party with Berlusconi (you know… the international economy…)
Nice day uh?
Now imagine a new generation of games that don’t use some random events but actually develop as the real world do. The France have the Eiffel Tower, Obama is the actual president of the USA and Rebecca Black’s Friday is still the worst song ever. Every event that the news report on prime time influences your game as well, in a way that you can’t absolutely prevent. Fascinating.
Well, this is the main concept behind News Games, a brand new approach to the journalism of the new millennium. Building a game that simulates the actuality (or a part of it) where the player lives the events from the point of view of an insider. They can be a revolutionary fighting in a riot in the Middle East, a drug smuggler in South America, or just a teenager dictator in North Korea.
The News Games’ goal is to send the reader into the news, let them feel the action, hear the underground stories and meet the main characters. Or going even deeper, feeling the fear of the uncertain and the glory of the victory. As you can imagine, this is a whole new level from watching the news comfortably lied on your couch while drinking a beer.
In fact is extremely cool. When are we going to play this News Games?
Slow down, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are many press agencies and newspapers editorials people working on them, but the results are far to come. It is very complex to determinate all the variables that can step in and the way they can change the game environment. Furthermore, no game like this has ever been done before. The point is, you cannot win or lose in the reality game. So even if the player role will be active, it won’t determine if a revolution will succeed or if the regime will maintain its power. So more than playing you are visiting the reality, as a war journalist would do.
Still I see is an amazing way to understand what is happening around us. See the faces, meet the people, and get deeper into the news. I also fear that without an open – Wikipedia style – crowd coding, the game maker can also write the rules and tell its own point of view, losing a great opportunity to write a story free of censorship. Keep your senses open, we are going to take the red pill.
Photo by EA.