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Journalism meets games: Newsgames as a new digital genre. Theory, boundaries, utilization

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Newsgames are a young genre of digital journalism. This article analyses the genre on the basis of cases from various countries, puts it into context, critically examines the theoretical foundation and presents a study of utilization. A scientific definition takes the perspective of ‘boundary work’: It distinguishes Newsgames from other digital games (such as interestdriven, entertaining or educating games) and draws a boundary between Newsgames and other digital journalistic genres (such as multimedia reports, web documentaries or types of data journalism). The drawing of Newsgames boundaries highlights the general problems of drawing boundaries of journalism in digital media. To date, no study on the utilization of Newsgames exists. Our explorative and qualitative interviews and observations are situated within the framework of uses and gratifications research. Main categories are the level of awareness, information performance and success factors of Newsgames. The results show that the new genre possesses a wide range of possibilities that cannot be uniformly assessed. Ethical doubts as to whether serious topics should be played in games are offset against the benefit of creating interest and empathy. Users want to experience success when playing – an aspect that emphasizes the competitive character and distinguishes Newsgames from other genres.

Keywords: boundaries of journalism; digital genres in journalism; digital journalism; game studies; newsgames; utilization and performance of new genres

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Publication date: July 1, 2018

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