Citizen Photojournalism Game Shows That Framing Shots Differently Changes the Story

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More so than ever before, it’s regular citizens with camera phones who are breaking the news… or in some cases shaping the news. And it’s this topic, hot on the heels of the protests in Ferguson, MO, that developer Nicky Case decided to tackle in a powerfully simple game.

The foundational idea and motto behind the as-of-yet unnamed game is, “How you frame the story, will change the story,” referring to how photographs can both reveal the truth and help spread misinformation.

He spoke to The Atlantic in detail about this game last week, and released this short gif demo to illustrate how the gameplay would work:

Basically, you as the photojournalist will have to decide how you frame the story. That, in turn, will determine how the fictional world you’re working in reacts to you.

Take a picture that pleases the police, and they’ll be nicer to you, perhaps giving you access you didn’t have before. Take extreme photographs that overstate violence, and you could be the sole reason a peaceful protest devolves into a riot.

All of this is complicated by the influence of social media. You score points by gaining Twitter followers, and you gain Twitter followers by taking ‘interesting photos.’


The game is still a long way from being completed — if it ever is — but the ethical dilemmas and sometimes harsh consequences that the main character will have to deal with are the selfsame ones photojournalists have to be conscious of minute-by-minute when they’re covering something like the protests in Ferguson.

To use a game to introduce these topics to the world of ‘new media,’ where news is made and framed on Twitter, is a pretty bold and interesting move.

If you’d like to learn more about the game, how it came about, and the moral and ethical questions that are driving Case to create it, check out the full Atlantic article by clicking here.

(via Engadget)

  • Kyle Clements

    Games like this prove how wrong Roger Ebert was when he argued that video games could never be art.

  • OtterMatt

    I like the idea, I really do. I just can’t shake the feeling from the descriptions and the gifs that this game/art/presentation/whatever is going to be profoundly anti-police. Please them to get better photo opportunities, offend them and get busted, etc. They’re just a wall of force that you have to either appease or avoid.

    It’s artistic, I’ll give you that, I’m just not sure if I’m going to like the message or not.

  • OtterMatt

    It’s a tricky slope. Oftentimes, a piece is considered more pure as an art form the more people can take their own meanings away from it. The problem is that games are by nature directed art. Because programming time and space are limited, your choices are limited, and thus your ability to find your own meaning is limited as well. Your interpretation is focused more in a game than almost anything else, because you have to involve yourself in the actions, and your choices are forced towards one of a small set of goals (either intentionally, or just because the programmer could only code so many endgames).
    I won’t say I agree with Ebert. It’s one of the few things I’ve really disagreed with him on in my life. Games can be art. But I can also see where he might be partially right, and I’m not sure if games can ever attain the same LEVEL of art as other media.

  • taoisms

    Oh shut up. Anti-police? Have you seen the news lately? And I mean the real news, not Fox, CNN, or MSNBC. Geez, I just can’t.