Gamification of News Stores – Innovation or Moral Panic?

The news and gaming. You would rarely see the two words associated with each other, however the two are becoming integrated in what could be the next big thing for journalism. With the decline of traditional newspapers and the shift towards digital media, new models of delivering news to the public are being explored in order to increase the levels of readership and user engagement.

Gamification defined by Conill (2014) is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-gaming environments, adding layers of game elements for the main purpose of improving user engagement.  In doing so, it is transforming online news into an engaging, social and fun activity.

But what makes gamification successful? Peters (2011) concludes that motivation is the key to success in gamification. He states that;

“by tracking readers’ success, news organisations provide a sense of progress. This, in turn, motivates readers to continue reading, commenting or performing whatever actions on the site that will contribute to their overall progress” (Peters 2011 pg. 1).

Further research into gamification revealed numerous examples of news relates games produced by global news outlets.

Al Jazeera released ‘Pirate Fishing’, an online game that puts players in the role of a journalist as he investigates an illegal fishing trade. The game was designed to give players a more in-depth look at the process of investigating big stories, which is often difficult and rarely glamorous.

Des Moines Register has also taken a stab at interactivity. They created ‘Harvest of Change’, an interactive game that uses an immersive 360-degree format to tell a story about how Iowa farmers are dealing with demographic, economic and environmental changes.

Finally the BBC has also embraced gamification in their latest project titled ‘Syrian Journey’. The game’s aim is to bring the audience closer to the difficulty Syrian refugee’s face in an interactive and creative way.

Despite this surge of gamification there is also criticism surrounding why gamification isn’t becoming a larger part of journalism and gamification itself. Criticism of gaming is still rife in journalism, particularly with moral panic still being associated with games and video gaming. Criticism also surrounds journalists who create games particularly by the public who are concerned about the image of professionalism and the fact there are no set guidelines surrounding games. Despite these problems the main criticism lies in the resources used and tastefulness of journalism (Alessandro 2014).

Journalists work on limited resources particularly money and time. Stories must be produced quickly and cheaply, creating a game is contradictory to this. A game requires dedication, time and specific skills. Due to the fact that gamification is so new to the scene there is no guide or template to speed up the creation process therefore gamification is often left out (Alessandro 2014). Journalists are also required to be objective-less and tasteful when creating news stories. Along with resources this is the main reason why the majority of stories are not gamified. Tragic or conflicting stories, take for example sex trafficking would make a tasteless game, not to mention the public backlash and loss of integrity the journalist could face in creating such a story (Alessandro 2014).

To conclude the introduction of gamification into the newsroom I believe is a step in the right direction especially in attracting a younger audience and being able to hold audiences attention for longer. However due to gamification still being in the introduction phase it will take a couple more years of trial and error by major news corporation until it becomes a staple part of journalism.

 

Additional Information:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbBrA8dZJ8w

Reference List

Bilton R 2014, ‘On the hunt for attention, media outlets gamify the news’, Digiday, accessed 12th November 2016, <http://digiday.com/publishers/publishers-try-to-turn-readers-into-gamers/>

Bradshaw P 2014, ‘3 reasons why journalists are wary of gamification: an interview with Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus’, weblog post, 14 November, accessed 11th November 2016, <https://onlinejournalismblog.com/2014/11/14/gamification-news-interview-al-jazeera-juliana-ruhfus/>

Conill R 2014, ‘The gamification of news: Towards a new framework for researching game mechanics in journalism’, ECC ECREA Conference Paper, Vol. 1, No. 1

Lester P 2014, Digital Innovations for Mass Communications: Engaging the User, Routledge, New York

Peters M 2011, ‘How Gamification Can Make News Sites More Engaging’, Mashable, accessed 11th November 2016, <http://mashable.com/2011/10/26/news-gamification/#cn6Jj0_eskqq>

Quigley R 2011, ‘The ‘gamification’ of news, and how it can be relevant’, Old Media New Tricks, accessed 12th November 2016, <http://www.oldmedianewtricks.com/the-gamification-of-news-and-how-it-can-be-relevant/>

 

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DIGC 330 Digital Artifact – Podcast

 

I decided to produce a digital artefact instead of a traditional research essay. I have found that throughout DIGC subjects I have the tendency to take the easy way out and write a research report. For the purpose of the task I therefore decided to create a podcast.

The following podcast therefore contains the process in which I analysed Ong Bak through an autoethnographic response to the film. In this podcast I explain what autoethnography is, what Muay Thai is, how I recorded my thoughts, then move into my epiphanies and initial thoughts about Ong Bak before analysing three major points. It attempts to discuss the transnational relationship between Australian and Thai culture through two main points discussed; religion and drug laws and outline the global flow of Thai action films which resulted from Ong Bak’s success.

Link to Storify containing tweets – https://storify.com/Andy_Wurf/ongbak-account

JNRL102 – Blown Away

It’s amazing what people will do to deny the dangers of the things they tend to like.

― Dr Howard Markel

Cocaine, a designer drug which exploded into the party scene during the 1970’s and 1980’s didn’t always have the bad name associated with it. Some of the greatest medical practitioners ever including Sigmund Freud and William Halsted praised cocaine as a wonder drug that could cure all.

However after a short period of time these practitioners became addicted and were experience severe side effects, despite this they didn’t believe the drug was to blame. Samuel*, a 20 year old student and regular drug user, typically takes a concoction of illicit substances whilst out partying on a Wednesday or Saturday night. Similar to Freud and Halsted, Samuel doesn’t believe that the drugs are the issue to his problems.

Samuel is a third year university student who grew up in Sydney but has since moved down to Wollongong for his studies. In his first encounter with illicit drugs he was sold a fake ecstasy tablet. However, this didn’t deter him from entering into the underground world of illicit drug taking. He first started taking drugs at music festivals but has since extended his behaviour to parties and nights out. Samuel is now split between two friendship groups; his Sydney friends who engage in recreational drug use and his Wollongong friends who are more aware of the side effects of illicit substances.

Since he first started consuming drugs Samuel hasn’t experience any severe side effects. Despite no severe side effects, he is becoming a burden on his Wollongong friends and his actions are straining their relationship. Whilst he is quiet about his drug taking habits, the majority of his close friends in Wollongong are becoming aware of his increasingly irrational behaviour. Childhood friend Samantha, also attends university in Wollongong with Samuel and is becoming increasingly alarmed at Samuel’s drug use.  She states; “A lot of people can’t handle it now and when we are out a lot of people just let him go off because they are sick of it and can’t look after him anymore”

Whilst his close friends are becoming aware of his hidden actions, his parents still remain in the dark about his recreational drug use. When asked if his parents knew about Samuel’s drug taking his joked to the camera saying “They are very against it and would probably kill me if they knew”. However with him not wanting to change his actions it is only a matter of time before what is hidden is brought to light.

* Name changed for privacy reasons

(Make sure the quality is 720p HD for best experience)

Tweets:

https://storify.com/Andy_Wurf/jnrl102-blown-away

**If you are suffering from drug addiction or drug related problems please contact**

Lifeline

13 11 14 

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

OR

Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW

1800 422 599

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Autoethnographic attempt at Ong Bak

Following on from my previous post about my initial encounter with Ong Bak, I have done research into specific aspects of the film that were of relevance to my initial reactions recorded on Twitter. I have watched limited martial arts films and the majority of them were western produced films (I’m talking Rush Hour). The Thai film industry was already renowned for its horror and teen movies and has seen success in the box office since 1997 however research into Ong Bak showed that the Thai film was a worldwide success and started the breakthrough of Thai action films. The prominent type of Thai action movies that are successful are those showing exciting Thai boxing (Muay Thai). Thai films do not use martial arts which aims to chase the antagonists, instead they design the fighting scenes to be beautiful and exciting combining Muay Thai with acrobatic moves and combat which can related to real life and human action (Panyasopon 2012).

There are three main aspects of the movie which I will touch on in this blog. The first aspect is religion. My initial encounter with this movie resulted in numerous thoughts about religion and its importance in Thai culture. Ong Bak has a very limited plot, and the basis of the plot revolves around those that believe in Buddhism and those that don’t. On one side is Ting and his village which have their Buddha’s head stolen and on the other side is Komtuan the evil boss who is stealing Buddha’s from across the country and selling them off shore. Once Ting’s village has lost Ong Bak’s (their Buddha’s) head they are plunged into a drought which I assume is punishment for the loss. Komtuan is portrayed as a non-religious man and refers to himself as a “god”. This is ultimately his undoing in the film as he is ironically crushed by a giant Buddha’s head.

evil-boss-killed-tweet

Further study into religion in Thailand concluded that nearly 95% of Thailand’s population is Buddhist, derived from the Theravada school (Kusalasaya 2006). Buddhism has become so integrated into Thai life that the two are hardly separable. Buddhist influences can be detected in Thai life-style, mannerisms, traditions, character, arts, architecture, language, and all other aspects of the Thai culture. The fact that Thailand has become widely known today as the Land of Smiles is due in no small measure to the Buddhist influence on the Thai people. Indeed, the nation as a whole owes much to the religion and wholeheartedly acknowledges her indebtedness to the Buddha’s teachings (Plamintr 2016). It therefore makes sense that Komtuan is killed at the end of the movie because of his lack of faith.

ting-becoming-monk

Reflecting on this tweet about Ting becoming a monk at the end of the movie now makes more sense to me through this research into religion. Ting becoming a monk means that he is regarded highly by his village and therefore it is a great privilege for the young protagonist.

The second aspect of the film which I commented on is the appearance of a cultural battle between Thailand and Myanmar.

cultral-battle

Ting (the protagonist) is forced into a deadly rope fist fight against the fighter called Saming. Saming originates from Myanmar, however Ting is told to purposely lose the fight if he wants to see Ong Bak’s head. Research into Myanmar and Thailand’s relations brought to my attentions the numerous battles fought between Burma (Myanmar) and Siam (Thailand) during the 16th to 19th century. Relations between the two countries now are strictly focused on economic issues however there is still conflict over the alignment of the border. Ong Bak repeatedly mentions that Saming is from Burma as well as negatively portraying him as a drug cheat with numerous scenes of him injecting steroids.

The use of drugs ties into my final observation of the film. Ong Bak has a very negative attitude towards illegal drugs.

Komtuan the evil boss happens to be a drug lord, Humlae (Ting’s cousin) has ran away from the village and now makes money by ripping off drug dealers, Saming is a steroid user and the culprit who stole Ong Bak’s head (Don) sells and uses cocaine. This negative attitude about illicit drugs is engrained into Thai culture, take for example the statement from the Customs Department of the Kingdom of Thailand (2016) website;

“Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g., having and holding for use, or being a producer, seller, or transporter are subject to the death sentence”.

With a death sentence possible for using, selling or transporting drugs it is clear that Thailand has a zero illicit drug policy which is reflected in the movie clearly.

To conclude, after conducting research my initial responses of Ong Bak it seems there are underlying themes present in the movie. To continue with my research into Thai films I plan on watching the sequel to Ong Bak, Ong Bak 2. It will be interesting to see if the main themes which I drew from the movie are present in the sequel or if they take a different approach to the plot.

 

Reference List:

Iskander D. 2013, ‘Thai Culture Uncovered: A Cultural Analysis’, Intercultural Communications, accessed 17th September 2016, https://diskander1.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/thai-culture-uncovered.pdf

Kusalasaya K. 2006, ‘Buddhism in Thailand Its Past and Its Present’, Buddhist Publication Society Wheel Publication, no.85

Panyasopon T. 2012, ‘The Characteristics of Thai Movies and Factors Contributing to Becoming Widely Known in International Markets’, International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, vol. 6, no 10

Plamintr S. 2016, ‘Buddhism and Thai Society’, budsas.org, accessed 17th September 2016, http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha108.htm

Thailand Customs Department 2016, ‘Legislation Customs Act (No. 20) B.E. 2548’, customs.go.th, accessed 17th September 2016, http://www.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/custen/legislation/legislation

JNRL 102 – Emotional History

INTRO SCRIPT

Most people dream about being a sports star and running onto a field full of packed fans. However that dream is a reality for 19 years old Stuart Mason who plays NRL for St. George Dragons in the under 20’s Toyota Cup side. He made his debut this year and it provided him with a very special moment to remember.

IN: “So I was originally…”

OUT: “…Pretty special feeling”

DUR: 1.59

For the purpose of this task I decided to interview one of my closest friends about his journey to becoming a semi-professional footballer. I have known him for a long time and he is good talent due to his experience with interviews. He is currently playing high level rugby league and I have observed the surprise and happiness it has brought to him. The aim of this assignment was to highlight his achievements especially noting the first time he ran onto the field and scored his first try.

Editing for the piece was relatively straight forward despite my serious lack of editing skills and no prior experience with using the Hindenburg software. A few pauses were added to absorb additional layers of meaning as well as ambient sounds recorded both live at his game and recording taken from his matches online (McHugh 2016). The use of music was also added into the piece to smooth about the transitions of audio.

“When Ira Glass lays down the two most important parts of any story, one is what he calls the ‘moment of reflection’, your story’s ‘why’. It’s the reason why anyone should be following the story at all” (Demers 2016). This quote from Ira Glass cited in Demers (2016) formed the critical question I asked myself whilst recording and editing this piece which was ‘how can I convey his emotions to the viewer and why should they care about his story’? Emotions in the piece were exaggerated by pauses this makes the story more relatable to anyone who has or had dreams of becoming a famous sports star.

Upon reflection of the interview, the process of recording was smooth. The interview was conducted in a quiet room with limited external noise or echo. I did not have to intervene or keep asking questions I was able to let him tell his story raw with limited vocal ques. I was then tasked with recording ambient sounds. I attended numerous football games where he was playing to try and capture the sounds of the game so listeners could become immersed and feel as though they were in the moment. Whistles, cheers and tackles made up the bulk of the recording. After attending games I also went to the local park to record sounds of football practise. It was here I was able to source the coach’s voice which plays an important part in building up the story. Finally I was able to source footage of my friend playing on television. With this broadcast I was able to record a commentator saying his name during a game. With all the sounds gathered they were then woven into the work to break up the audio and add context to the interview. Originally I did not have any music in the clip however because music plays a vital role to either set mood, add pace, underline a statement, change narrative direction or allow material to breathe (McHugh 2016). I therefore sourced music from freemusic.org which I was able to fade in and out of the audio.

Link to music: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Animals__Men/Where_Are_All_Your_Friends/Shellshock_2003_Featuring_Phil_Cass

Reference List

Demers J. 2016, “4 lessons from Ira Glass in telling stories the way they’re meant to be told”, Story and Heart, accessed 25th August 2016, <http://blog.storyandheart.com/blog/2014/2/2/4-lessons-from-ira-glass-in-telling-stories-the-way-theyre-meant-to-be-told#.V8QLDE196Ul>

McHugh S. 2016, ‘Lecture Week 5 Music and Mixing Stories’, powerpoint slides, JNRL102, University of Wollongong, viewed on 24th August 2016.

McHugh S. 2016 ‘Lecture Week 2 The Power of Sound’, powerpoint slides, JNRL102, University of Wollongong, viewed on 24th August 2016.

 

Time In – Out Rating
0.4-0.17 So I was originally….yeah so started playing at 11. ***
0.21-0.31 Junior rugby league club…until Under 16s there **
0.38-1.03 Well…… got an offer from St.george it all sort of went from there **
1.10-1.39 Oh the first time….same as everyone you have watched growing up ***
1.45-2.04 Yeah for sure …. Yeah it was intense **
2.10-2.32 Oh my try on the weekend… it was a little bit unexpected … pretty special feeling… playing in front of my dad ….. **
2.39-2.52 Second to none ….. im loving every moment ***
3.00-3.11 Well it just…….nah not bad * Too much laughing
3.20-4.00 I just think….. It wasn’t too bad…. Training was tough after that.. **
4.10-4.40 He’s alright….My dad watched that game too which was nice.. **

Ong Bak – An Autoethnograpic account

With the ever increasing awareness of martial arts including Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), Hapkido, Taekwondo and many others I decided to focus this autoethnographic account on the martial arts film genre. Martial arts films generally fall into the action film category and usually contain one or more martial arts fights between characters. The first martial arts film which drew attention for the Western audience was ‘Enter the Dragon’ starring Bruce Lee.

A popular strain of Mixed Martial Arts is Thai Boxing or more commonly referred to as Muay Thai. Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and was developed several hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat that utilises the entire body as a weapon. Muay Thai is referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because it utilises eight points of contact and the body mimics weapons of war. The hands become the sword and dagger, the shins and forearms were hardened in training to act as armour against blows, the elbow to fell opponents like a heavy mace or hammer, the legs and knees became the axe and staff. The body operated as one unit. The knees and elbows constantly searching and testing for an opening while grappling and trying to spin an enemy to the ground for the kill (Tiger Muay Thai 2016).

With an interest in Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts mainly originating from the popular fighting promotion company UFC,  I decided to review a popular Thai film called ‘Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior’.

(This is the English dubbed trailer – I watched the original Thai version with English subtitles)

I have visited Thailand and have been to a Muay Thai fight before so I was keen to see if the film depicted the same skill level and respect for the sport as the real fighters. For the purpose of using this as an autoethnographic response I will refer back to Ellis (2011) in the aim to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al. 2011, pg. 1). I will watch the film and at the same time live tweet my initial thoughts. I will also incorporate Denzin’s (2004) theory that the ideas of the ethnographer is a public intellectual who produces and engages in meaningful cultural criticism.

I was originally going to compare the difference between Thai martial arts films and Chinese martial arts films however after watching Ong Bak this may change depending on the concepts I can draw from the film. My thoughts and observations have been recorded below in storify format.

https://storify.com/Andy_Wurf/ongbak-account

Reference List

Denzin, Norman K 2003, Performing [Auto] Ethnography Politically,The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 25:257–278.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1

Tiger Muay Thai 2016, ‘History of Muay Thai and Muay Thai Training’, tigermuaythai.com, accessed 25th August 2016, http://www.tigermuaythai.com/about-muay-thai/history

Additional Reading:

If you want to know more about the history of Muay Thai

http://www.tigermuaythai.com/about-muay-thai/history

Understanding State of Play

Following on from my first blog about the film ‘State of Play’ based on South Korean pro gamers playing Star Craft, I have done some research into certain thoughts and epiphany which I observed whilst viewing the film.

The first point I broke down through research was; “Korean culture is very minimalistic players don’t own many possessions and sleep on thin mats instead of in beds – this was very interesting to note”. Research revealed that Koreans spend a lot of time cleaning their floors due to the lifestyle centred on the floor. Dining tables are normally very low to the ground as dinner is usually eaten on the floor. Even today, most people sleep on the floor (Lee 2016).

My second point which I researched into focused on players living together. “Professional players live together in a house with up to 14 players under the one roof. Is this to reinforce teamwork or for economic needs (cheaper?)”. Bago (2016) explains the reasoning behind the gaming house in his article. ‘The roots of the gaming house began as a money-saving measure for players to pursue competitive gaming opportunities in the cost-prohibitive city of Seoul.’

I also researched further into players practising 10-12 hours a day on Star Craft. As a sports player the idea that players train that long on their chosen game struck me as over training and I thought injury would surely occur. “Players train 10-12 hours a day on Star Craft which is an insane amount of screen time surely headaches and RSI play a part in the long term?” Jacobs (2015) looked into two Korean players training schedule. He found that Chae “Piglet” Gwan-jin and Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun, are notorious for pushing the physical boundaries for how much a person can practice. They often sleep only four hours a night and practice between 12 and 14 hours per day.

In fact this point was more serious than I thought. Brautigam (2016) highlights that injuries in esports are nothing new. ‘Across games and nations, injuries have derailed the careers of pro-players for some time past’. He also states that the list of top-notch esports players suffering from injuries gets longer every year. One particular case is Lee “Flash” Young Ho, known to be one of the most dominant players in the history of StarCraft 2. He underwent surgery in 2011 to eradicate wrist problems, and was then forced to take a recovery break, including a stay at a sports rehabilitation facility. Young Ho stated “At the beginning, my arm was stiff and I was not able to hold my mouse. It even hurt me a little, but I am doing my hardest to recover,” (Young Ho cited in Brautigam 2016). Wrist injuries however are not the only common injury whilst playing Star Craft. Jung “Mvp” Jong Hyun, StarCraft 2’s third-highest earning player at that time also suffered from pains however in his neck that caused numbness in his shoulder and arms.

If I were to review the film again I believe I would have a different perspective on the points mentioned above. Specifically the rigorous training schedule which results in lack of sleep. Initially I thought the gamers were just lazy, with poor sleeping scheduled and even stereotyped the pro players as “nerdy gamers”, however the research changed this perspective because I now understand the level at which these pro gamers compete at and their goals to be dominant in their sport. After this research I believe that my approach to e sports has changed and I will be taking on board the information learnt through my research when analysing similar texts in any future experiences.

Reference List:

Jacobs H., “Here’s the crazy training schedule of young guys who make huge salary playing video games”, Business Insider, accessed Friday 19th August 2016, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/pro-gamers-explain-the-insane-training-regimen-they-use-to-stay-on-top-2015-5?r=US&IR=T>

Bago J., “Dispelling the Myth of the Korean Gaming House: What Lessons the Philippine eSports Industry Can Learn From Our Korean”, esports inquirer, accessed Friday 19th August 2016, <http://esports.inquirer.net/13920/dispelling-the-myth-of-the-korean-gaming-house-what-lessons-the-philippine-esports-industry-can-learn-from-our-korean-overlords>

Lee K., 2016, “20 Cultural Mistakes to Avoid in Korea”, Seoulistic, accessed Friday 19th August 2016, <http://seoulistic.com/korean-culture/20-cultural-mistakes-to-avoid-in-korea/>

Brautigam T., “Esports needs to face its injury problem”, esportsobserver, accessed Friday 19th August 2016, <http://esportsobserver.com/esports-needs-face-injury-problem/>