Play the News

Fun and Games in Digital Journalism

Maxwell Foxman


Central Questions

  • How are games being used by digital journalists?
  • Do games and play affect journalistic practices?
  • When should games and play not be used?
  • What qualifies as games and play to journalists?

What Qualifies as Games?


  • 40 interviews with practicing journalists, serious game designers, game journalists and educators in Game Labs and Journalism Schools.
  • Within the journalistic field: graphic design, development, editorial, business and strategic managers.
  • Historical research on games and play.


Concerns of Crosswords

  • Technology
  • User Feedback and Iterability
  • Incentivization
  • Limitations
  • The News Bundle

Features vs.

Stock Formats

Features vs. Stock Formats

Playful Products

Points, Badges, Prizes

Quizzes & Questions

Playful Products

Situation-Specific Designs

Newsgames & Gameworlds

Playful Practices

“There’s a relationship that we have with our audience that frankly is different than a lot of other news organizations. I mean, nobody puts a Chicago Tribune bumper sticker on the back of their car, but everyone’s got NPR stickers.”









Brian Boyer on "Harnessing the Love" of the NPR Audience 


Game Team Products

Playtesting the Public

Games & Business

Playful Challenges

  • Culture
  • Brand
  • Cost (Time, Effort, Skills)

Practical Suggestions

  • Think like a Game Designer
    • Flexibility
    • Formatting
    • Iteration
    • Playtesting
  • Rethinking relationships to stories and audience

Technical Suggestions

  • Use skills, staff and talent already existing within the newsroom
  • Play with Open Source and Free Software




Play the News

By Maxwell Foxman

Play the News

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