“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.

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