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Would You Like to Play a Game? News + Gaming: Hackathon and Talks on 4/22-23

Games can teach important lessons about the nutgrafs of news. Learn what makes a good game and apply what you've learned by creating your own news games at the next Hacks/Hackers NYC event, News + Gaming, on April 22-23 at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Anyone who wants to create news stories that teach through games is invited to participate. Once you've registered, join the News + Games Google Doc to read up, ask questions and discuss potential projects. No coding skills? No fear! Storyboard, wireframe or otherwise illustrate your idea at the hack day.

What are news games and why should they matter?
Chris O'Brien summed things up in an article on MediaShift Idea Lab: "Newsgames are particularly optimal for exploring and explaining topics and stories that involved complex systems .... Allowing people to experience these stories, more than just showing or telling them the information, has the potential to have enormous impact on their understanding of a topic."

Take a look at these examples.

Hacks/Hackers NYC is hosting a News+Gaming hackathon on April 22 and 23 at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, sponsored by Seattle-based BigDoor, which offers a gamification APIDaniel Bachhuber has put together a collaborative Google doc for ideas.

  • Friday night, April 22: social event with talks about gaming mechanics (alcohol too!). You can find partners and share ideas.
  • Saturday, April 23: daylong hackathon at CUNY in midtown starting at ~9 a.m. and powering through the night. Storyboards, wireframes, HTML sites and coded prototypes are all welcome.
  • Note: Sunday is Easter. The Hacks/Hackers gamification event is Friday and Saturday only.

There will be fun prizes for winning hacks, thanks to BigDoor.

Speakers include Ian Bogost of Georgia Tech, Heather Chaplin and Roy Schmidt of BigDoor:

Ian Bogost is an assistant professor at Georgia Tech and the co-founder of Persuasive Games, an award-winning independent videogame studio that makes games about social and political issues. He is the author of Newsgames: Journalism at Play (MIT Press 2010, co-authored with Simon Ferrari and Bobby Schweizer) among other titles. His work covers a wide variety of topics not usually found in videogames, including airport securitydisaffected copy store workersglobal petroleum marketChristmas shoppingtort reform,suburban errands, and pandemic flu. Their games have been played by millions of people and exhibited internationally. He is also a recipient of a Knight News Challenge grant in 2010 for Cartoonist, an attempt at creating authoring tools for interactive political cartoons. He has a bachelors degree in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA.

Heather Chaplin is an assistant professor of journalism at The New School and author of the acclaimed book, Smartbomb: The Quest for Art Entertainment and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution. She has been covering games since 2001 for publications like The New York Times GQ, Details, and The L.A. Times. She's currently a regular contributor on the subject for All Things Considered, and  speaks regularly on the topic of serious games and indie games at places like The Game Developers Conference, Games for Change, and The Sundance Film Festival. In addition to her journalism she's acted as adviser to entities like The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS. She has been interviewed for and cited for her work on videogames in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Businessweek, and The Believer and has appeared on shows such as Talk of the Nation, and CBS Sunday Morning. 

Roy Schmidt of BigDoor will offer up an overview of how BigDoor approaches gamification, including a demo of their free gamification API that allows folks to easily add points, virtual currencies, levels, badges, achievements, leaderboards and more. Prior to BigDoor, Roy performed random acts of internet marketing at Microsoft and Walt Disney Internet Group. 


Right now the $25 registration is for both Friday and Saturday (this might change as our budget numbers get more firm). Should the cost change, early signups will be grandfathered in.

Is the $25 registration fee beyond your budget? Email us, we have some scholarships available.

Now a plug for our gracious hosts: CUNY Journalism School now features an entrepreneurial program which includes a one semester course of study designed to prepare mid-career journalists not only to start businesses or work in startups, but to bring innovation to media companies.

Find us at nyc[at]hackshackers[dot]com with questions, comments, thoughts, ideas or if you want to be a sponsor or suggest a speaker.

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    I was able to take a look at a few cool ideas and alot of the personalities in the news and development business.

    April 25, 2011

  • Daniel B.

    And the video from Friday is online too!

    April 25, 2011

  • Chrys W.

    We posted a write-up of the weekend with links (where available) at the Hacks/Hackers website:

    April 25, 2011

  • A former member
    A former member

    This wasn't really a game, but at the event we built this web app that allowed NY Daily News to hook up photos from their very large historical archive going all the way back to the 1800's to locations on Foursquare. Allows people checking in to see what their restaurant looked like 100 years ago! Pretty cool.

    I see the New Yorker is already doing the same and am sure all the others will follow soon!

    April 25, 2011

  • Anthony De R.

    Had a great time at this. Anyone who had an online demo/game, would you mind posting the link here?

    April 25, 2011

  • Chrys W.

    >Daniel: Thanks for setting up the Google doc.
    >Juan: Glad you'll be joining us!

    March 29, 2011

  • Juan C. M.

    Looking forward to spending yet another day of hacking with you guys. I've had lots of fun in the previous events.

    March 24, 2011

  • Daniel B.

    Here's a Google Doc I put together earlier we can work off:

    I figure we can list participants and skill sets at the top, and project ideas further down

    March 22, 2011

  • Abhay S.

    Last time we had good luck using a shared/public Google Doc.

    March 21, 2011

  • Daniel B.

    Can we put together a wiki-esque space to list participants, skill sets, and ideas?

    March 21, 2011

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