Champion newsgame “Green Saviour” by Tempo to be launched by Greenpeace Indonesia

Nearly 2.1 million hectares of forest were lost last year in one of the worst forest fires that Indonesia has seen in years. Aside from the significant material losses, the disaster left behind unprecedented levels of air pollution in its wake. But how can you get people living in cities to care about air pollution and deforestation hundreds of kilometres away? One way is to put them in charge.

William Rince, Adam Firdaus and Wahyu Dhyatmika from Tempo (Indonesia) took home the winning title with their prototype Green Saviour. Photo: Global Editors Network

The team from Indonesian weekly magazine Tempo won the Editors Lab Final 2016 with their newsgame Green Saviour: Stop the Haze. The game challenges players to swiftly extinguish the fires that pop up across the entire Indonesian territory with water bombs or artificial rain. After, they can replant the forests that are left destroyed and jail the criminals who were illegally clearing land to ensure that the fires won’t restart. Despite the game’s simplicity, users will quickly find themselves overwhelmed. Creators Wahyu Dhyatmika, Adam Firdaus and William Rince, hope to educate young city dwellers on the consequences and prevention measures of forest fires. Maria Ressa, founder and CEO of Rappler was on the jury that named Tempo Editors Lab season four champions with Green Saviour. She praised the team for having “captured complexity of issue, including the problem we’ve had since 1997 — making those responsible accountable. If only it were so easy.”

We spoke with Wahyu, an editor at Tempo, about the path of Green Saviour since it’s conception in June.

What has happened with Green Saviour since your first prototyped it?

Greenpeace Indonesia appointed me to their oversight board. One of the first things that I discussed with the management is the possibility of using Green Saviour as one of their campaign tools because one of their biggest campaigns is how to raise awareness about the haze and how to stop it happening again. They [Greenpeace Indonesia] said yes. We have handed over everything we have. The codes and everything. And we hope that it will be embedded into their campaign. Of course there will be some acknowledgement that it was Tempo’s project during the GEN hackathon but we will hand it over to them and let them use it. We haven’t discussed the property or the rights or anything like that because it’s a non-profit thing and it’s for a good cause. All we want is to see it used by people.

Play Green Saviour here.

Has the actual game gone any further than how it was in June?

The newsgame is a completely new idea for our newsroom. We don’t know where to put it in our website. We don’t have this kind of forum. For us it’s a completely radical idea. I’ve been talking about whether we need to have a separate channel or media lab where we can put all of these innovative ideas, including the game, because if not, where do we put it? We published it as a link in all of our news related to the hackathon, so people can actually play it from that link but it’s really hidden. It’s buried underneath the text. I don’t think it’s doing justice for the game itself.

Did the idea for the media lab come out of this prototype?

Yes. Because there’s new innovative ways of delivering stories and we of course want to try it all out but we don’t know where to put it in the website. We only have a long-form section, regular breaking news section, photos, videos. Unlike ProPublica or New York Times, they have The Upshot, they have separate channels. This is our biggest problem. So when we see Greenpeace coming on board, it makes sense. [The game] is meant to be seen. We believe in its power to influence people.

Are there any new features?

We did some improvement in the opening and closing, but the game itself I think it’s already sufficient.

“I think the most precious thing is the experience of working together as a team and as equal contributors to a project.”

Could you tell us about your experience at the Jakarta Editors Lab and then at the final in Vienna? What were your expectations going in? Were you surprised?

Jakarta was the first hackathon for Tempo, for the three of us. We didn’t know how to approach it at the beginning, who will take the lead, you know. So it was quite hectic in the first day even in Vienna. I tried not to lead because each of us has different roles in creating the project. At the end of the day someone has to take charge and make the decision that this has to be done, you forgot about this, focus on this. I think the most precious thing is the experience of working together as a team and as equal contributors to a project. Because usually the editors, the journalists are the ones who decide everything. We’re on the top. But having the experience during the hackathon really changed that. I try to disseminate that experience to the newsroom.

Have you done internal hackathons?

After the Vienna hackathon, we started this monthly forum called Digital Friday. It’s every first Friday in each month. All the developers, designers and editors are sitting together in one room talking about challenges, things we see as problems in delivering our content.

And that was inspired by Editors Lab?

Directly by the hackathon.

That’s very cool!

William, Adam and I usually start the day. Adam has a presentation about how to streamline the UX. William usually gives some insights about how things work behind the scenes. Some of the editors don’t really realise all the things he is working on, how important he is for the operation. That’s really new for us and we do it now every month.

Do projects come out of these seminars?

We started discussing this idea of revamping the whole website. Modernising the back end. Can we incorporate newsgames into our daily work? How can we use more novel and innovative ways of storytelling? One of the conclusions was that our CMS, our back end is not really equipped to provide new ways of innovating the news. Adam is also talking about developing the front end so it’s all coming from there.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.