Making complex news fun
Learn about big developments with small puzzles each day
Hard news is hard to follow. If, for instance, you see an article about Brexit and the European Union, it’s likely to be a little blurry if you don’t know who is involved or how the process works. Or if you see a piece in the New York Times saying ‘After Uber, it’s time to fix start-up culture’ being shared all over your social media feed, but haven’t followed the latest allegations against the taxi-hailing app, you may not be able to get the big picture.
Enter Game of News.
At the Editors Lab Final at the GEN Summit in Vienna, newsroom teams from across the globe built tools to help readers follow complex news stories better. Representing Italy and La Stampa, Davide Lessi, Jonathan Albrieux, and Nicolas Lozito built the Game of News — a smartphone game that breaks down complicated news, with quiz questions and daily challenges. They placed in the Top 3.
Modelled on the wildly popular language-learning app Duolingo, Game of News employs an interactive approach. Their target audience is young readers, those who are addicted to their smartphones and enjoy mobile gaming.
Each day, a user wakes up to a selection of three far-reaching topics, such as the Syrian crisis, Brexit or the Uber issue. Instead of reading the news, you discover it through a quiz game. For instance, if the story is about how Brexit bills dominate government agenda in the Queen’s speech, the game will first give you a two-line summary of the latest development, along with a colourful graphic. When you hit continue, the app throws up a related question, such as: How did the UK decide to leave the EU? You have four options, of which one is the correct answer. If you hit the wrong answer, it will direct you to a page with the correct one, accompanied with an explanatory paragraph. You move on to the next question once you’re done reading, and so on. With five quick questions, you’re caught up.
You can share your scores on social media, or challenge a friend or public figure to take the same quiz. The interface has large graphics, colourful text and is easy to navigate.
“We can embed video and other short content too,” says Davide Lessi, journalist at La Stampa. “We know that many newsrooms have tried gamification, but we are building a platform that is more useful than a simple game. For readers, it’s a paradigm shift — they become an active part of the learning process.”
At the back-end, Game of News is automated and fetches information via Google Spreadsheet. Journalists must write down a list of questions and possible answers while filing a news piece. “Little effort, great results!” adds Lessi. “The app should be ready by September, and will go public after internal testing. We would love to work along with other newsrooms and launch a collaborative version by June 2018.”