PeaceMaker: An Index Award Finalist

We are excited to announce that PeaceMaker, our first game, was selected as a finalist in the prestigious contest INDEX: Design to Improve Life.  

The INDEX organization was founded by the Danish Government under the patronage of HRH The Crown Prince and is regarded as one of the biggest design awards in the world. Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX: explains, “INDEX:’s mission is to ensure more Design to Improve Life of higher quality in the world. Therefore we inspire, collect, advocate, communicate, evaluate, connect and discuss Design to Improve Life globally.”

The finalist’s works will be presented in a touring exhibition that premieres in August 2009 in Copenhagen and travels throughout Denmark and Internationally.  The award is given to winners in five categories – Body, Home, Work, Play and Community (all to be announced August 28).  Among other finalists in the Play category are Nike Trash Talk, City Invader and the Recycle Factory.  You can view all of the finalists here.

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”.

PeaceMaker: Deactivation and Reactivation Functionality

In answer to many people’s comments and support issues we are pleased to provide our customers with this new functionality. The patch below will work for anyone purchasing a copy of PeaceMaker that does not already have integrated this new functionality. We understand everyones desire to be able to have flexibility with software they purchase and we are glad to finally provide that. This should also make it easier for educational institutions that are continuously re-imaging their computer labs.

New Patch: Deactivation and Reactivation Functionality
We have recently added new functionality to allow our users to deactivate and reactivate copies of PeaceMaker in order to move them from computer to computer. Please be sure to use the deactivation tool before uninstalling. If you own the online version (v1.068 and earlier) or the CD version (physical copy) feel free to install this patch for PC or Mac. You do not need this patch if you own a later version of PeaceMaker. DO NOT use this patch if you have the Peres Center version.

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

Haaretz.com

Exciting news: Ha’aretz (the Israeli newspaper) is featuring the game “Livni’s Coalition” on their site. It is the first in a series of games we will launch with them. The game is embedded on their pages: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1025853.html and linked to from their homepage as one of today’s top “stories.”

It is great to see “Play the News” integrated into traditional and respected media sources like Ha’aretz and we hope to announce more partners soon.

New Partner: World Net Daily

We are happy to announce that World Net Daily has made our First Debate game available to its online readers.  The game, which is going to be resolved on September 26th, allows players to express their opinion and cast their prediction around the winner of the debate and the issues presented (foreign affairs focus).  We already saw great traction, and are hoping to launch some more news games with WND around the US election and other topics in the following weeks.  Stay tuned.

Playing to the Masses

We have been lucky to have attracted significant publicity to our products.  Much of it is drawn from the fact that PeaceMaker and Play the News are inherently so different than the old-fashioned public perception of video games.  Politicians, parents and non-profits constantly deride the medium for being a “time waster,” “violent and shallow,” or even accuse it of being “a silent epidemic among our children” (Senator Clinton).  What would make a better feel-good story than a game about peace in the Middle East or Web games that connect people to headlines?

But such debates tend to be overly black and white.  I like this story in The Guardian, not only because it highlights us, but because it presents how much it’s not only about “shallow vs. deep” or “violent vs. peaceful,” but about a real passion to diversify the interactive audience and present new models to think about:

“Mainstream videogames may have all but conquered the 18-34 male demographic, and proven extremely pervasive throughout others, but their social stigma persists. One of the most obvious reasons for this – and one of the key points of the Byron Review (dfes.gov.uk/byronreview) – is the vast “generational gap” between gamers and non-gamers. Of course, this argument implies it’s just a matter of time before MP Keith Vaz sits down to a game of Grand Theft Auto VII, but Burak believes that before this can ever be achieved, we need to “dismantle the notion of the ‘gamer'”. “If you think about it,” he says, “you won’t call someone a ‘radio listener’, or ‘TV viewer’ – I mean, you might, but everyone is, right? Everyone is a filmgoer. This idea that people are ‘gamers’ is going to have to change. Everyone should be a gamer!”

As game developers and “gamers” shouldn’t we be happy that more people enjoy our medium?  When guests visit me I love getting the Wii out, creating a Mii for them and letting them wave the remote.  Especially for those who never tried it before – their eyes widen, their jaws drop and suddenly they realize that if they are not careful they could easily end up “gamers” themselves.

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?