Why are news and games not more intertwined? When Latoya Peterson, deputy editor for digital innovation for ESPN's The Undefeated, first started working in a newsroom, she realised the creation of a newsgame was hindered at every step of the process.
She met people who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and still did not get the game they were expecting.
"It's not sustainable and it doesn't seem to make sense. And yet we are missing out on a huge opportunity," she said, leading a newsgames bootcamp at the GEN Summit in Vienna yesterday (15 June).
That opportunity is engagement – "our magical metric".
Games regularly ask players to spend 20 hours or longer on the experience, and simply learning how to play a particular game can take between five and ten minutes.
With online videos, in contrast, engagement tends to drop after just one minute, she told delegates.
"Newsrooms really need to gain a fluency in games and play."
While media organisations often set goals to familiarise their teams with the grammar and style of emerging technologies and new platforms, they remain on the sidelines when it comes to gaming and play.
One of the reasons why the gaming community has been one of the main forces pushing for virtual reality is its understanding of storytelling in that format, she explained.
Newsrooms, however, have some catching up to do. "If you're building these experiences you want to spend time with games and you want to understand why it works."
Understanding the system of creating a game, even if an actual game does not come out of it, is important because newsgames should not be just about the end product, but about making an impact into a player's life, she explained.
By not playing enough games, publishers do not understand the landscape and what is possible, often assuming that a newsgame has to be complex and expensive.
"Some of the most compelling games you've ever played are simple," she said, pointing to Tetris as a well-known favourite.
Datu highlighted that some editors believe a newsgame can be "the secret sauce to a boring story".
"In reality, you should have a story that really fits the medium."
Bösch, who started up a game studio after working in a newsroom for over a decade, also warned against "putting lipstick on a pig".
"Don't add a funny little game to your content if you are serious about newsgames. You need people."
A team working on a newsgame should consist of journalists, a game designer familiar with creating an interactive experience, someone to program it, and someone to "make it bright and shiny".
One of the games Bösch's studio created for German broadcaster ZDF's Heute Show is a take on another classic – Snake.
His team also built a newsgame idea generator, for newsrooms who want to start thinking about designing newsgames but don't have a concrete idea yet.
Need more inspiration? Check out the following games to see what the medium can convey:
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