Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Background Brief And Prediction Market Combo Makes For Interesting Intel (Playthenewsgame.com)

Impact Games (the makers of the award winning serious game, Peacemaker) has launched a new service that combines an interactive background briefing on a topic of current news interest with a prediction market engine allowing the user to "Play The News".

Each of the Play The News "games" follows the same pattern. The background briefing (done using a flash-based interface) lays out the essential details of the story and the identifies the stakeholders in the story. Next, there is a short current news video and the game frames the essential question(s) for the player to answer. In an interesting twist, the players can often pick which side of the story they want to play. For example, in the game embedded below, players can choose to play either the Russian side or the Georgian side.

Once the briefings are over and the player chooses a side, the game then asks the player one or more questions about the future of the current situation. Again, the game adds an interesting twist, asking the player both what should happen and what will likely happen (Note: The prediction feature is only available to registered users but registration is painless). The game then shows the player the aggregated results from all other players. Finally, the company drops you an email to let you know if you were correct or not when the results are finally known.

I was particularly impressed by the choice of news stories covered. Most of the games focused on world news and many of those on stories that receive scant coverage elsewhere. In all, I found it to be an extremely engaging way to get personally involved in a current news event.

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