Newsgames were closed to being considered obsolete, but an event that took place in 2014 in Germany brought the genre back into the spotlight. If you’re not a big fan of gaming to be familiar with all genres, newsgames are games that are designed from the base of a real-life event, be it social, political, religious or pretty much from any sphere, but may or may not follow the line of events accurately. Designed to put the journalistic skills of the game writers at test, newsgames can be great challenges for aspiring journalists that prefer to recreate the game to mimic real life events as accurately as possible, or fun challenges for those that don’t poses any specialized journalism skills but just like the game concept and would like to give it a try.If you happen to fall into the latter category, this article will help you get started with writing your first newsgame.
Choose Your Topic
The first step to creating the game is choosing the right topic. Since it’s a newsgame we’re talking about, the topic should be a real event that can be transformed into a game. Whereas pretty much all news stories have this possibility, it’s good to aim at something that’s either extremely popular (thus unlikely to fade away from the big screen anytime soon), or something that’s completely unknown yet deserves the attention of the general public.
While it’s important to have a good starting point, it’s the way you imagine the ongoing action that’s more important. You can write the story from a different angle, or write it in a whole different direction from its real course. The choice is yours, and as long as you can come up with a storyline that’s engaging, either option should be good.
To get an idea of what this means, let’s look at a popular (yet highly controversial) newsgame – Endgame: Syria. The game takes the ongoing conflict from the Syrian region, but puts the player into the skin of the rebels, having to target governments and military forces. Even though the whole idea is quite catchy, and doesn’t distort reality (it’s just a matter of different perspective), the game has been banned from Apple’s App Store. If you aim for fame with your game, avoid touching sensitive subjects that might get you banned as well.
Set Up Your Gameplay Mechanism
Aside from coming with a plot, you’ll also need to identify what game mechanism works best for your scenario, and adapt the storyline to it. If a turn-based game model fits your needs best, write the script so it can adapt and accommodate for any possible course of action that can be taken at every turn.
The main role of newsgames was to be different from what’s already out there, so you’ll have to keep this aspect in mind when writing your game. Aim to make your game stand out from the crowd, and don’t hesitate to use unusual tactics to do so.
Unless you want your game to accurately follow the timeline and path of reality, you have a lot of great options to work with, and one of them is exactly a practice used by journalists: recycling and reshaping content. The concept is simple: you take a news piece, or certain elements from it, and adapt them to your script and story. A major advantage of this practice is that you don’t have to come up with original content from scratch, yet you have something that’s both familiar to the player but also new and innovative.
Getting It Done
Once you have every detail of your newsgame prepared, you’ll just need to find a skilled coder to put everything together and transpose your idea into a finished product.
This is the guest post by Jason Phillips and Parking Games 365!