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:

Reference List

Bilton R 2014, ‘On the hunt for attention, media outlets gamify the news’, Digiday, accessed 12th November 2016, <>

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, <>

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, <>

Quigley R 2011, ‘The ‘gamification’ of news, and how it can be relevant’, Old Media New Tricks, accessed 12th November 2016, <>



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)


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


13 11 14 

24 hours a day, 7 days a week


Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW

1800 422 599

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

JNRL 102 – Emotional History


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 which I was able to fade in and out of the audio.

Link to music:

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, <>

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 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.. **