ASU hosts first news game development workshop

The New Media Innovation Lab and the Center for Games & Impact at Arizona State University will hold ASU’s first news game development workshop March 22 on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

The workshop is designed to help journalism students and professionals explore how game play can be used to explain complex news events. Participants will learn the process of conceptualizing and developing news games.

By the end of the workshop, teams will have come up with a variety of games that other workshop attendees can play and that will become the framework for a set of tools the innovation lab and the games center will develop for the media industry this fall.

The event is sponsored by the New Media Innovation Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as well as the Center for Games & Impact, the Phoenix chapter of the Online News Association and Evil Controllers, a Tempe-based video game accessories company. It is open to Cronkite School students and faculty and ONA members.

Retha Hill, director of the Cronkite School’s New Media Innovation Lab, said students in her lab have been working with the Center for Games & Impact to create modules and tools for news organizations to quickly build games that are both engaging and informative.

“While journalism has long incorporated some kind of gaming into its culture with crossword puzzles, word searches and even news quizzes, the potential for games for journalism is not fully – or even partially – realized,” Hill said.

“Through news games, the user can explore complex issues such as how to balance the federal government budget, how to reconcile enhanced interrogation methods with the need to save lives during wartime or how to successfully operate a political campaign in compelling way – all while gaining a deeper understanding of the individual’s own moral code,” she said. “While many news organizations are interested in creating news games, many journalists are not familiar with the mechanics to create a compelling game.”

Adam Ingram-Goble, director of innovations at the Center for Games & Impact, said the center’s partnership with the Cronkite School addresses one of the challenges facing journalism today – how to train and support journalists to use rapidly changing technological tools to tell meaningful stories and engage audiences.

“We are creating spaces to foster innovations among video game designers, journalists and educators,” he said. “In these spaces we will advance the development of new practices and technologies to support media professionals in engaging their audiences, with an eye towards cultivating a more informed, passionate public."

The gaming workshop will take place in the Cronkite School’s First Amendment Forum from 1 to 4:30 p.m., March 22. For additional information, contact Hill at, 602.496.3908 or Juli James at the Center for Games & Impact at, 480. 965.0211.