Learn by playing: Understanding media manipulation

DROG, a media consultancy focused on resisting disinformation, created Bad News, an online game that guides the player through all the steps one might take to create a fake-news media outlet, from initial frustration to full-blown outrage machine.

In taking on the persona of a media manipulator and walking through the choices that lead to the most effective (read: worst) outcome, the player learns the tactics used by promoters of disinformation and becomes (hopefully) better equipped to avoid falling victim to extremist thinking.

By the end of the game, you’ve created a fake-news machine with the power to dupe mainstream news outlets and sway public opinion. You feel kinda gross inside, but also more empowered to combat media manipulation!

There’s also a seamless in-game survey to gather data about media literacy that has players rate the credibility of various tweets.

Why it’s hot? Exposes the nuts and bolts of media manipulation through experiential learning. If you know how manipulation functions, you’re less likely to fall for it.

The story is presented in a fun, interactive way that uses the player’s choices to deliver the message. This experience imprints the message in a multivalent way, engaging more parts of the brain at once, and is thus more memorable than passive media, and encourages more sharing and more engagement.