The good people at news:rewired got in touch to ask if I'd like to take part in a panel on incorporating game mechanics into interactive journalism. I readily accepted – this is an area that I think we'll see some real interest in during the next few years.
I started with a look at the struggle news media faces in attracting attention across digital channels. Whilst readers generally prefer authored content, advertising agencies use clever tricks to give their messages an equivalent appeal. The invasion of social media in the form of promoted Twitter trends and tv characters that answer back makes decreases the signal to noise ratio. In the face of so many things demanding our attention, is it any wonder so many people opt for the escapist relief of gaming?
The popularity of games puts our readership in perspective. From what I can tell, FarmVille has at least 10 times as many daily visitors as most of the popular UK media sites. Angry Birds has had over 100 times more downloads than our Guardian iPhone app. In the face of this, we'd do well to look at ways we can incorporate classic game devices like goal fulfillment, collaboration and competition into our interactive features.
My fellow speakers had a variety of other views on this emerging trend. I was particularly struck by Philip Trippenbach's talk about the difference between stories and systems.