EU – International
Developed in 2020
Researchers at the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab are responsible for the science behind the game whilst the software itself has been developed by: DROG, a venture builder based in The Hague (NL) consisting in a multidisciplinary team of academics, journalists and media-experts. DROG conducts research, gives talks, offers workshops and educational programmes and, most importantly, creates innovative tools that help build resistance to disinformation.
The goal of the game is to expose people to the manipulation techniques that are used to mislead them.
By playing, people are likely to build cognitive resistance against common forms of manipulation that may be encountered online.
To pursue this objective the game has been developed upon the theoretical framework of “Inoculation theory”. The theory lays its foundations in social psychology, and states that people are able to build up their own resistance against false or misleading information just by being presented with a weakened version – a sort of trailer – of a misleading argument before being exposed to the “real” information. It can be seen as a kind of “vaccine” against misleading information.
The game was written to be suitable for people aged 14 and up.
The Bad News game has been developed with the intent of confering resistance against fake online information by putting players in the position of the people who create it. It takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and is suitable for didactic use in class as a form of “media literacy training”.
By playing Bad News you take on the role of “fake newsmonger”. The own game guide states “drop all pretense of ethics and choose a path that builds your persona as an unscrupulous media magnate. But keep an eye on your ‘followers’ and ‘credibility’ meters” as the main objective of the game is to get as many followers as you can while slowly building up fake credibility as a news site.
Finally it states “but watch out: you lose if you tell obvious lies or disappoint your supporters”. During the game, players are exposed to “weakened doses” of six common misinformation techniques; e.g. “how to use emotional buzzwords like ‘horrific’ or ‘terrifying’ to increase the viral potential of their content”. In fact, rather than telling people what to believe, those kind games equip people with the skills necessary to identify, prevent and argue against harmful misinformation from going viral.
The game has been translated into 19 languages and has been played over a million times worldwide.
Science behind the game:
Info for Educators:
Two other games have been developed by the same team of researchers from the Cambridge University:
“Harmony square” is a game specifically about election misinformation. https://harmonysquare.game/en