"If you look at the 500 million people who are on Facebook and the way that people text each other and instant message and use video chat, there is now an evolution of media. Those are the characteristics and attributes that a generation and audiences feel are very important to their media and entertainment experiences. And we expect that."
Kotick estimated that "Call of Duty: Black Ops" has already logged 600 million hours on consoles around the world. In six weeks. Much of that was done in community, making the Facebook analogy very relevant.
But what if gaming could be even more than another version of Facebook? What if it could be another version of The New York Times? There's been some good writing about novelists and journalists moving to gaming to unleash their talents. But most of that energy winds up becoming more fiction. Earlier this year Mark Lamia, studio head of Treyarch, creators of "Call of Duty," spoke to Venture Beat about the content of Black Ops:
So how much of the game is true?
Well, it is inspired by true stuff, but it is fictional. It is the same as we have done in other historical games. We create an entertainment experience based the history.
Fiction, history, and hybrids thereof, will always be an important part of games' story lines. But since there's a community ready-made in such games, why not add an element of right-now for that group to discuss and play around?
In their well-researched and intriguing new book "Newsgames: Journalism at Play," Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari and Bobby Schweizer examine the practice of fusing gaming with journalism. It's not a new idea. From before personal computers, with games like Diplomacy and Risk to early computer games, such as "Balance of Power" and "Hidden Agenda," front-page reality and game-room fantasy have meshed well.
"Newsgames" suggests this link should get stronger by purposefully employing gaming to convey news of the day. And it sets down a challenge, not to gamers, but to journalists.
Rather than just tack-on a games desk or hire an occasional developer on contract, we contend that news-games will offer valuable contributions only when they are embraced as a viable method of practicing journalism albeit a different kind of journalism than newspapers, television and Web pages offer.
I agree with most of that sentiment, all but the very end. I don't think it's a different kind of journalism. When done best, journalism is the practice of research, critical analysis and dissemination. In journalism's hierarchy of needs, facts trump perspectives, and perspectives trump monolithic messages. This is not necessarily the hierarchy of fiction or activism or even blogging. But relenting on this point is cutting journalism clean from its reason to exist. We can argue objectivity to death, another time. The hierarchy listed above can be couched in different ways, but it should not be lost. And despite its best efforts to categorize, "Newgames" sometimes muddies the water about this issue. If games were to practice journalism as a discipline, and advertise itself as such, it would have to be very much the same kind of journalism that newspapers, television and journalistic Web pages offer. If not, then call it something else. But I think these standards can be applied in most entertaining ways.
Another issue the book addresses is that current newsgames such as Wired's Cutthroat Capitalism are rudimentary compared to "Call of Duty." That's a problem when you think about delivering to a broader audience. Here's a possible solution news-gatherers should partner with gaming developers. Obviously it takes years to develop XBox games. But once a platform is set around a basic ongoing news story Afghanistan, climate change or even WikiLeaks then adding updates that reflect the news of the week, or even the day, should be possible. This would be a boon to game developers, who could sell subscriptions for scenario updates, a gaming wire service of sorts.
One of my favorite editors has often said, "The point is not to save any one medium, it's to save journalism." I could not agree more. If people want to get their news by playing their way through it, then game on.
To read more about this idea, visit the "Newgames" website.