Story Gaming The News

edited January 2010 in Story Games
Roughly a year ago we played a game about the conflict in Gaza as it happened and was all over the news. It's a game I've returned in my thoughts right through the year (and in here, sorry about that :). Something ticked; all the players knew what the game was about, the discussions were lively after the games. And now I'm thinking if this could be a pattern that I could try to reproduce.

There are many global news stories capturing the attention of the global population each year. Last year it was the Gaza, the downturn of the economy, Obama, Afghanistan was and is still in the limelight, the climate talks in Copenhagen etc.

For me playing story games about these news stories would be a way to understand and to explore viewpoints of the narrative that we consume through media. I personally often have hard time grasping the systemic view of these kinds of events through news. Instead I feel some kind of anxiety and frustration and the need to go on with other things. But I think something valuable could be learned by exploring these news events through story games.

So I ask you: What recent news events would you want to play a game about? What would you like to explore?

Or you can suggest a game to use for a game about a recent news event. How would you set it up?

Any general thoughts on story games about news events are also welcome. We can branch out if this thread becomes a mess.

Ps. News Gaming is not a new idea. Gonzalo Frasca launched the website newsgaming.com in 2003. The site contains two browser games, MADRID (about the terrorist attacks in Spain in 2004) and September 12th.

Comments

  • I've become interested in land mines and demining efforts, and have thought about a game that illustrated the human cost of mines. It seems like Zombie Cinema might be the engine that would work well for this.
  • edited January 2010
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarI've become interested in land mines and demining efforts, and have thought about a game that illustrated the human cost of mines. It seems like Zombie Cinema might be the engine that would work well for this.
    That's a great topic for a game. I wouldn't know where to begin though - like who would the game be about. The people living in a mined area trying to lead their lives while surrounded with these deadly hidden things, the soldiers who mined the area, demining efforts etc. Maybe it would be interesting to center the narrative around a single field and zoom on different people connected to it.

    How are you thinking of using Zombie Cinema for this, Jason?
  • My thoughts: You center the game on people with strong ties to a village in a conflict zone. They could be soldiers, civilians, peacekeepers, children, whatever. This is all guided by card draws that give you a set of three attributes, just like the original game.

    Zombies are replaced with the broader conflict, specifically mining. Each "step forward" brings the dangers closer to home. Initially the conflict is intense fighting in the village itself - sort of a reversal of Zombie Cinema's creeping doom. After that, as the danger continues to escalate on the game board, it is all about emplaced mines and left-over ordinance creating threats to livestock, children, and so forth. The point is not to focus on the actual conflict but rather its residue.
  • There was a supplement in the 80s for the game Top Secret SI which was called something like Brushfire Wars(?) It was "ripped from the headlines" scenarios for military operations and counter-terrorism.

    The cool thing about the supplement is how now it really shows what people thought of as "military" action in the 80s. Most of the scenarios involved the taking of hostages (like on an airplane or in an airport) in a location or small unit infiltration of a foriegn country (usually a jungle). If that supplement were being written today, I imagine it would paint a much different image of military action and the kinds of scenarios we read about in the news.

    ME
  • "So I ask you:What recent news events would you want to play a game about?What would you like to explore?"

    I'd want to do a game of Best Friends set at the Grammy Awards.

    ME
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarZombies are replaced with the broader conflict, specifically mining. Each "step forward" brings the dangers closer to home. Initially the conflict is intense fighting in the village itself - sort of a reversal of Zombie Cinema's creeping doom. After that, as the danger continues to escalate on the game board, it is all about emplaced mines and left-over ordinance creating threats to livestock, children, and so forth. The point is not to focus on the actual conflict but rather its residue.
    Wow that's powerful. How would you handle PC death? Just like ZC?
  • What Jason describes was, as far as I know, originally developed by Emily for her "A Day in the War" scenario about Iraq.

    Inspired partially by Emily, I wrote a Dogs hack 2 years back concurrent with the 2008 unrest in Tibet.
  • Great stuff, everyone.

    Jason, thanks, that seems like the thing I wanted but didn't quite have an idea how to get there. Now I have to get myself some Zombie Cinema (I have the predecessor to the game as it was published in Roolipelaaja).

    Michael, I haven't really thought of Best Friends as my kind of game but you really made me want to play it. I could see myself playing a game about Finnish politicians with BF, too. I think using these kinds of characters adds a whole new layer to the game.

    Jonathan, thanks for the link. Dogs seems like the kind of game that could be hacked into many uses relating to crises in different parts of the world.
  • I've long wanted a political campaign game. Especially after following the U.S. Presidential election in 2008. It was exhilarating to follow--much more exciting than any sporting event. Burning Wheel would be awesome, with every PC a candidate for president, though you'd have to create lifepaths and everything else from scratch, which the Monster Burner lets you do, but it's still a lot of work.
  • Posted By: hans ottersonI've long wanted a political campaign game. Especially after following the U.S. Presidential election in 2008. It was exhilarating to follow--much more exciting than any sporting event.
    This gave me an idea about a In a Wicked Age hack for a West Wing (the tv series) like setup. I think IAWA would probably make the action more in-your-face, cynical and sinister than in WW, though.

    Burning Wheel could be awesome, too, a BW game where the social conflict subsystem would be used way more than the combat one :)
  • Posted By: ziphtWow that's powerful. How would you handle PC death? Just like ZC?
    I assume so, I hadn't gotten that far with the idea.

    JWalt, I had heard about Emily using Zombie Cinema to model conflict in Iraq. That's what gave me the idea.
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