Play The Election: Overview

The live site is no longer being hosted by Rand McNally so I thought I would post a slideshare showcasing the project since we are very proud of our efforts and the outcome.

First let me thank the fine folks over at Rand McNally for giving us this amazing opportunity. It had been since our partnership with the University of Missouri Journalism School that we had the opportunity to have an active community and it is always exciting to see people engaging with our platform.

It is always difficult to stand out in the sea of election education materials that pop up around a Presidential Election but we think our project did just that. Have a look:

We still strongly believe in the platform and hope that there are more great partnerships and life left in Play the News and its future iterations. Watch out for new things to come.

Play the Election 2012: Going Live With Play the News Election Edition

We have had the amazing opportunity to partner with Rand McNally to launch, free to schools and educators, an election version of Play the News for the 2012 US Presidential Election.

You can go straight to the site here.

And view the Press Release here.

This was a great opportunity to do a lot of things we have wanted to do for a long time. Over the years we have conducted a lot of outreach to schools and foundations because we think Play the News could be great for the classroom. We have also heard from many of you educators out there requesting the opportunity to use it in you classes.  Here is our chance to find out if it is as great as we all hoped.  Sorry to the rest of you Play the News fans since this version is specifically set up for educators and students, but hopefully if this is successful enough (with your help) we can leverage it into partnerships and opportunities that will help us bring back the open to all broad news topics platform.

Inside you will find all kinds of extra teacher resources to help integrate this into your classroom or community including the opportunity to create your own game stories. Stay tuned as I hope to hold a couple webinars down the line to interested teachers on the game creation process.

ImpactGames at DevLearn 2010

DevLearn is right around the corner!  We’ve been busy working on a few items for the conference that allow you to play and learn.

First up, we’re proud to be sponsoring an instance of BackChatter, the fantastic twitter game created by Local No. 12 which premiered at the Games Developer Conference last year. BackChatter allows players to place “bets” on words that are used in tweets marked with the conference hashtag. It’s a super-fast, easy and slightly addictive way to engage in the conference. Plus we’ll be giving away prizes to each round winner as well as the finalists! The first place overall winner will receive a Premium Membership to The eLearning Guild!!!

DevLearn site: DevLearn10

BackChatter site:

Secondly, Kris Rockwell, ImpactGames CEO, will be presenting at the Serious Games Zone on Play the News and the idea of using gaming as a way to present news media and create a rich experience for users. As part of this, Kris will give a preview of the updated version of Play the News and show the game in action. Kris will also be speaking as part of the Mobile Learning Jam, covering a variety of topics from development to games on mobile devices.

As always, if you want to talk to us about ARG’s, mobile learning or Serious Games and how they can help your organization, just send an email to Alexi Morrissey at or send him a tweet at @hybridlex and we’ll be happy to setup a time to talk to you.

We look forward to seeing you at DevLearn 2010.

Play the News – Call for Partners

We have recently outlined two new projects that ImpactGames would love to pursue.  Based on multiple discussions we have had with leaders in the educational space and our own internal experience with creating content for both ourselves and clients we feel there is a timely and genuine potential for the use of our Play the News Platform as a teaching and training tool.  We welcome you to review the following proposals:

(1) Play the News in the classroom (K-12) – A proposal that focuses on the creation of educational modules for a range of subjects: 

Download Educational Proposal Here

(2) Play the News to teach new media journalism – A proposal that focuses on teaching new forms of journalism and discussing the future of interactive journalism:

Download Journalism Education Proposal Here

As always we are continuing our discussions with media outlets and content providers that are looking to broaden their digital and community offerings.  You can view our media partner presentation here:

Download Media Partner Proposal Here

We are also open to other creative applications and ideas on how our work can be integrated with other efforts.  We hope that these proposals will serve as a starting point for discussions.

PTN Wins the Knight Foundation Award for News Gaming

We are very honored that Play The News won the First Knight News Game Award.  The winner was announced at the Games for Change Annual Festival last week.  According to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation the award “honors the best of this exciting new genre: games which are journalistic and strengthen people’s ability to make decisions in a democracy.”  You can read the full press release here.

We really hope that this great recognition will support our current effort in finding new educational partners and venues for the use of the platform.  The other finalists who were honored at the event are the Budget Maze by the Gotham Gazette, Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City by Global Kids and September 12th, the iconic news game created by Gonzalo Frasca and his team that many attribute to coining the phrase “newsgaming”.

Play the News Thanks You

Dear Play the News Community,

On behalf of ImpactGames we would like to thank you all for your participation in our Beta community.  We have reached a point in the progression of this product where we will be ceasing to produce new content for the site.  We will not be opening, locking, or closing any of the current content.  For now we will be leaving the site frozen in time for demonstration purposes and to support our fundraising, content partner acquisition, and future development needs.

In the last few months we have created 126 games on a wide range of subject matter.  The process has educated us personally, and hopefully those of you in our community, on many issues.  Some of the games we created were on issues we read about every day, while some were on meaningful subjects that are generally buried in the margins of the mainstream press.   The discussions around the games have been very thoughtful and revealing to us as developers and individuals.  We believe that the way we have packaged current events represents a fresh way for people to consume headline news, and provides greater context and engagement on complex issues and even lighter entertainment.  We are confident that the future “new and improved” incarnation of the platform will serve as a real alternative or addition to traditional media.

We are planning to take this time, free from the intense development cycle required to continuously produce new content, to analyze all of your thoughtful feedback in order to create an even better experience. We are opening a new thread in our forum where we welcome you to submit any and all thoughts and ideas about the experience, share user testimonials, and present any leads you think we should explore.

We hope to revive the community in the near future and will preserve all of your user data for integration into our next edition.  We thank you again for taking the time to pioneer a new user experience with us.  Your feedback and ongoing participation has been integral in exploring this new form of communication, game, and community.

Eric and Asi,
Co-Founders – ImpactGames

Sometimes PlayTheNews Becomes the News

On two separate occasions our news games were drawn into the event we had represented, when the real-life characters began paying attention to them.  How weird.

First case: a game we published with Read Write Web about Data Portability.  The founder of DP, Chris Saad, who is represented by a role in the game, played it and promised not to spoil the game since he “knows the answers”.

Second case: our recent game about BoingBoing and Violet Blue was posted and hosted by Violet Blue on her blog, open to comments by her audience.

Will we see future feedback loops?  Say Obama looking at our community predictions/opinions for his prospective VP?

Play the News: Reviews and Long Term Plans

Since the launch of our public beta, “Play the News” has received some interesting reviews on the Blogsphere. There were positive reviews; TransBuddha says “ImpactGames has figured out a way to combine my old D&D love with my obsession with the news”, while Josh on The Knight Center blog calls us: “an interesting offering for those interested in new ways to deliver and interact with the news”.

We also enjoyed the satire on The AV Club, according to them PtN “will make you kill puppies”. Broken Toys’ Scott Jennings, however, was highly critical by claiming we “essentially ha[ve] abdicated any responsibility for making a decision”, pointing out that we have created a framework for the community to voice its opinion without advocating our own opinions or assumptions.

Getting feedback is great, and the beauty of the Web is that we can keep expanding and improving the platform based on reviews and comments from players. Josh of the Knight Center phrases it more eloquently by saying: “It’s interesting that [Jennings] refers to this site as a “title,” making it more akin to a static game product that is done at some point than a website that evolves and changes over time”.

Josh argues we should introduce crowd sourcing to PtN as “an effective way to diffuse the unavoidable agenda setting nature of Play the News… Creating a system that allowed the crowd to assist in creating the content could greatly increase the number of stories offered.”

Funny he should mention that… Because hidden behind the front-end of PtN is an easy to use content creation tool. It enables us to publish polished experiences around a breaking story in only a day or two. Our focus now is reaching out to different media partners so they will create their own games using our editor. Aggregating all these “channels” on our site would allow for very interesting comparisons of the the issues illuminated by different content partners, while obviously adding richer and wider content.

We do plan to open PtN up to user-created games. At that point anyone could create whatever advocacy perspective they want through the information and the potential courses of action. We will need to seriously address moderation and copyright issues, but it is definitely a worthwhile expansion. From our perspective, it is a natural step in the evolution of PtN but not an immediate one. First, we would like to establish this new media format. Once the “News Game” format is established, we can support civic journalism and user-generated content. As Eric my partner commented on one of these blogs “for us this platform has just been born.”

ReadWriteWeb Partnership

This week we published our first news game with a media partner – ReadWriteWeb, one of the world’s leading tech Blogs. This is a first in a weekly series of tech games we are going to write together. With these partnerships, we aim to expand “Play the News” and the content we bring to the community. Our easy to use content editor enables us to continue to add different partners that can bring a range of content expertise and perspectives to the games. Please contact us if you are interested in such partnership.