“Bad News” and communication through video games

Bad News is an interesting game that takes an all too common sight on social media and makes it into an interactive simulator for spreading disinformation. The game had simple mechanics, you can choose from 2-3 options on the type of disinformation you want to spread, then you then get feedback and are judged on the amount of followers you can accumulate. In the end I accumulated 12,616, although I do not know if that is a good or bad score. Many of the options on there, while not being word for word mirrors of what I can find online, echoed similar sensational headlines that I could find on almost any social media sites to lure people into clicking on their article.

This takes me to the question proposed: Are online video games an effective tool for social change? Why or why not? After playing this game I feel like video games can be adequately used to send a message to its players. While this game’s message of why disinformation is not a good thing is probably common knowledge. There are many other games that are examples which can convey ideas ranging from political messages, themes of addiction and loneliness, and to social commentary. This can be embedded in the game’s mechanics, narrative, and even easter eggs which may take players much time to find. “Bad News'” message is clear in the highly sensationalized options we can choose from. We, the player, are meant to see the interaction between those who spread disinformation and those who consume it. While we cannot see the full effects of disseminating disinformation, we can clearly see headlines that we may have seen before. Therefore, in a game that is meant to satirize the producers and consumer of disinformation, we are playing from the point of view of the troublemaker through which we can identify certain words and styles that those who spread this use.

Furthermore, video games are a clever medium through which we can communicate messages. Looking back, easier in the semester, I recall an article which looked into how we are dissuaded from reading long portions of text due to the way we read online. We are now getting used to reading shorter lengths of text such as small articles, or tweets. I know that I have sometimes fallen victim to this since I may shy away from reading long blocks of text. Therefore, I believe that a video game may be an interesting and effective way of sending a message to a public who may have difficult keeping their focus on a long novel or journal article. While the video game may not be able to convey the large amount of information that a books or series of books can it can still give useful information with relatable characters and through offering a larger degree of interactivity learning said message. One of the greatest ways to achieve this would be to use Virtual Reality. Using these types of games, the player can actually feel like they are full immersed in the video game, thus having a better interpretation of the message. For all of these reasons, I believe that it is very important to recognize how video games can act as a vessel for change through all of the unique ways that they can send a message to the player base.


Terms of Service

I have almost never tried to read the terms of service of any app, website, or game that I use. Although, one time I did try to, I ended up just doing a quick skim. I feel like there is just so much information and it is so wordy that I feel disconnected from any information it is trying to convey to me. One interesting portion that I found in both the Medium and TikTok readings was the presence of arbitration consents. I was learning what this meant in my intro to legal writing class, and both texts lay out the process that parties who have a grievance against the company must go through. They both make similar points by saying the arbitration is the only way to go and that they cannot seek class action lawsuits. They also state specific parameters that govern the process of arbitration, emphasizing the fact that they must remain confidential. Apart from all of the terms that govern out day to day use of these platforms, I feel like this is also important to know since it outlines the process those who have formal complaints must go though and the legal implications of pursuing one. While there would be almost no way to establish TOS’s that are the same for platforms across the board, I hope that companies would at least try to make them a bit shorter, although I guess it is not in their best interest to.

The other site that rated websites by outlining important parts of their agreements is a step in the right direction, since it condenses the terms into pros and cons and gives an overall rating as to how safe it is and what the site does with your information. On there I saw some sites that I use, who utilize my information in ways that I did not like. But in this case I feel powerless since if I do not agree to their terms, then I cannot use their sites. We do not have much bargaining power since we cannot regulate them as consumers, so I wonder how much these companies would be willing to change about their structure of TOS.



FireWatch Final Review


I started this game not knowing too much about it, the only information I knew about this game came from a trailer I watched many years ago in a showcase. I was not expecting too much out of this game, but my first impression indicated that it was more than just a beautiful game. After playing through the game, I definitely stand by the idea that it handles multiple themes that many people deal with in life. Additionally, this game can also serve to be an escape from stresses and anxieties of daily life.

The story is pretty impressing, the way that they make the plot relate to themes of addiction, isolation, and escape really helps sell Firewatch to its players. The game also does a neat job by building up tension and making it seem like there was going to be a twist some unrealistic twist at the end, This idea was echoed in many other reviews of the game that I looked at after I finished it. Many people were upset that there was no twist ending and there were certain characters that we did not even get to see. While I initially thought that there would be some unexpected final twist and that some characters were not who they seemed to be, I realized that after experiencing the themes that the story evokes a twist was not necessary for the game. While I enjoyed having the rug pulled out from under my feet, I felt like the story was realistic which was their goal all long. The relatable themes also compensate for the “walking simulator” that many people call this game. Although, at some points, I felt like I was walking forever, it paid off when I could find some cool setting to gaze at, and it took time away from my other stresses.

The mechanics here are simple, you walk from point A to point B and investigate the items to move the game along. The main way we got information is by talking to Delilah, our supervisor. Although, we never get to see her, we get enough information and she adds to the story enough that her identity is not relevant here. That is another part of the gameplay that is interesting. The game is very vague, there are many questions left unanswered, which is both a good and a bad thing. It is good since it is not necessary, but it is also bad because if leaves the players sometimes wanting more. Another important gameplay mechanic, is choices. Like I said before, there are many choices in the dialogue throughout the game, although I am pretty sure it does not affect the outcome of the story.

The design and visuals of this game are what really make it great! I absolutely loved the free roam feature. I played it after I was done with the first play through, and I was definitely interested in just roaming throughout the entire park. I’d say that the one things that disappointed me is that I wish that we had more options to the dialogue. Sometimes I felt that I did not like any of the options that I had, that is not too important though.

This game relates to a culture of those who are overwhelmed by daily life. In the story we see a man escape his issues by going to work in almost complete isolation in park. We see this in our culture a lot through people who are fed up with 9-5s, their relationships including their families and marriages, and of the fast paced life in general. The ways people deal with this include, but are not limited to, converting to minimalism, going to the country, and sometimes ending their relationships. Here we see a game that does not try to create a sensational story, but instead make a story that resonates with a generation who sometimes feel overwhelmed whether it be by loans, jobs, and many other issues. In my opinion, the developers of this game have succeeded due to the game’s critical reception and many positive reviews by fans.

The biggest thing that surprised me was how relaxing this game can be. The last time I played this was when midterms were coming up. I was really stressed with the amount of work that I had to do so I got on this game after a long day and I let all my anxieties go. I felt like I escaped from all my earthly problems, and very few video games that I have played have done that. Overall, I plan to continue playing this game whenever I feel like I need to get away from issues and life in general.


Firewatch #4

Since I finished the game, I wanted to go back and finish collecting the last few trophies that I missed. They were a couple of achievements that required me to go looking for something, but after some research I found exactly where I needed to go. I saw that there was a free roam option but before that I wanted to test something. I was curious if the choices that I made had any effect on the intro narrative. So I made a new game and chose all the options that I didn’t pick in my first playthrough, but it didn’t really change the final outcome and it only altered a few minor details. After that, I loaded into the free roam and made it to the area I needed to go! I got some pretty cool side story for each of the achievements which was pretty nice! That makes me which there some other side stories like that since the park is so huge. After that I just wandered. I wandered around trying to look at all of the places that I didn’t get a chance to look at before. During my exploring I realized that the combination of the music and scenery reminded me of Minecraft. It brought back nostalgia from when I would be on Minecraft for hours just exploring and walking through different biomes in hopes of discovering giant caves or ravines. I felt like it was a good time to relax since I was having a stressful day with all of the assignments that I had to do. I wonder if they will make a sequel with different characters, or if they would make a prequel exploring the stories of the other rangers who came before me. After wandering for a while, I realized that I have been roaming for almost an hour. While I enjoyed seeing the beautiful sights in the game, I had to go to sleep since it was almost 2pm. I hope that I can come back to this game again soon, especially since fall break is coming up!