Poynter Institute column quotes SJMC's Paul, Hansen on news gaming

More and more news organizations seem to be offering news games. While the applications of such games still are becoming clear, it's not stopping non-news organizations from jumping on the bandwagon, according to a Poynter Institute column.

The Poynter Institute's Adam Hochberg talked with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication's Nora Paul and Professor Kathleen Hansen about news gaming.

Paul and Hansen have studied news gaming for a number of years. In 2007, they received a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation 21st Century News Challenge program to test interactive methods against traditional storytelling for complicated news issues.

While the attributes of a "good investigative report" are clear, "we don't know enough yet about the attributes and applications of these kinds of things."

Some games, such as MinnPost's, put players through budget simulators, allowing them to make decisions about what to cut or which taxes to increase as they try to balance state budgets and explain consequences of the decisions a player made.

Hochberg wrote advocacy groups have put together their own versions of games, which do not always offer balanced approaches. One conservative think tank's game contained 42 ways to cut state spending but only one tax increase. Another created by a union-backed group included 17 ways to raise taxes, "mainly on corporations and the wealthy."

Hochberg quoted Hansen as saying it's incumbent on users to check out who created the games. While such games can be useful tools to help citizens understand complex policy issues, they're often oversimplified.

Read the complete story at Poynter.org.

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