I play video games often when I have free time outside of my school and journalism duties. However, I have never imagined a game that centers around misinformation. The Bad News misinformation game was fun and highly educational, allowing you to interact in real-time, making decisions about creating misinformation in a social media environment. It was enjoyable for me because I was always taught to be very careful what I post on the internet, and the game encourages you to spread misinformation and offers reactions in real time. For example, the game would provide you with three different misinformation tweets, and you get to choose one or sometimes elect not to, but if you do, you would be provided with immediate reaction tweets.
First, I selected the most conservative responses possible until I realized the game wanted you to engage in the misinformation so that it could begin to teach and break down the different elements of it layer by layer. The game allows you to master techniques, which include emotion, polarization, impersonation, trolling, discredit, and conspiracy. Some of the techniques that I mastered while playing Bad News were conspiracy, impersonation, and trolling. Here is an example of what it looked like to earn emotion.
The Bad news game is highly effective and directed at teaching players. As you go along the game, you are not just recklessly making decisions; the game is explaining and breaking down every decision you make and what it may mean and induce. This is a game people could enjoy playing, which in turn could definitely be used as a tool to combat misinformation. The bad news game will show you yourself if you unknowingly spread misinformation.
First, you had to choose your avatar and a goal to work toward; I decided on a $1,000 used car. Next was the misinformation; the goal was to spread misinformation about American matters as a foreign site and gain enough revenue to purchase my used vehicle. The first step was to create my site from scratch, utilizing a name, logo, etc. The game then instructs you to copy articles from other sites and repost them until you eventually reach a quota of shares that will generate revenue for the site. Here is a photo of the article selection process before posting. The gist of the game centered around posting and interacting with misinformation, entirely intentionally, until you earn enough points or “money” to reach the $1,000 needed to purchase the used vehicle.
Although this was a fun activity and offered great insight into how tabloid and sensationalist newspapers operate, there are more sustainable methods to efficiently teach its gamers about misinformation’s true nature efficiently. The game got too into the weeds regarding the tabloid newsroom operation. It focused too much on reaching the goal of getting the money instead of the actual dangers and nature of the internet crimes you’re committing. It’s interesting to consider- on the contrasting side- how games could play a significant role in spreading misinformation in the ever-evolving landscape of video graphics. Early this year, France24 news reported a story detailing a video game that mimicked live news or live news scenarios that were used to convince people to think they were witnessing clips from the events in the Russia and Ukraine war. This a perfect example of how something deemed so harmless could inadvertently spread harm on a mass scale.