Do you wish to become a disinformation and fake news tycoon? Try out 'Bad News', the latest web browser game spawned out of the fake news epidemic.
In the game, you follow instructions and appropriate someone else's credibility, by either faking an official Twitter account or impersonating someone important. If you ready a fake account of the 45th president of the US, you can go right ahead and tweet this: "After long deliberation with my generals, I have decided to declare war on North Korea. #KimJongDone". And just like that, you have amassed 25 imaginary followers.
Or, if you so wish, you can transition from an exasperated citizen to "a big shot editor-in-chief running a real news site", which will be the bulwark of your fake news empire. You will have options, of course. You can have moral objections about tweeting that climate change is a hoax, but, as the game will goad you, you have to shed your "goody two-shoes attitude" to become influential. Otherwise, you're just peddling "fashionable nonsense".
By positioning players as propagandists, the game hopes to work as a teaching tool and alert the public on how to identify fake news. Developed by a Dutch media literacy organisation DROG, in collaboration with Cambridge University researchers, the game will double up as a project to assess how effectively users have spotted suspicious news items via questionnaires. Sample tweets include: "The 8th season of #GameOfThrones will be postponed due to a salary dispute". (Unreliable) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (Reliable).
Commentators have noted how Bad News might be a bad example for a game on the topic of detecting fake news articles. For some, it seems to plant ideas on how to quickly gather followers on Twitter and grab the maximum attention. It also doesn't compare favourably to games like The Westport Independent, where a newspaper editor has to run his business in an increasingly fascist atmosphere in a fictional post-war country.
But rather than even pretending to be a serious game, Bad News is trend-hopping on a buzzword that gained traction as the 2016 US presidential election campaign progressed; fake news existed as yellow journalism for centuries. In fact, it is nipping at the heels of games like 'PolitiTruth', 'Fake News: The Game' and 'Factitious', which fall under a developing niche where journalists receive grants to design games which help users distinguish genuine news stories from a cache of published articles.
Here's a sample question post-play: "Bad News has made me wiser on Fake News" (Unreliable) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (Reliable)
Link to the game: https://www.getbadnews.com/#intro