Conference- TechRaking II: Gaming the News

(Originally posted as a discussion board post on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 at 2:50 a.m. EDT for my Meaningful Gamification course at Syracuse University.)

My spirit animal for TechRaking II.

Tomorrow, or I guess today for you East Coast folks, I am attending a conference in San Francisco called TechRaking II: Gaming the News.

But first, a little background information about how I was invited to this event. I’m a part-time web producer for the Center for Investigative Reporting based in Berkeley and San Francisco. CIR is is co-presenting this conference with the Online News Association and Public Radio International, and it is hosted by IGN at its headquarters in San Francisco.

Here is the official description:

“TechRaking II is a daylong event on Sept. 19, 2012, dedicated to the intersection of news and games. Social and gaming continue to play a major role in how the public gathers information and interacts with content online.

Gaming industry executives, designers and artists will convene with investigative journalists to explore how gaming platforms can be used to reach and engage citizens in investigative journalism. In addition to participating in discussions with industry leaders, conference participants will be divided into teams and challenged to develop pitches for news games that connect players in radically new ways. The winning team will receive $10,000 worth of development time from Coco Studios to jump-start its idea with the Center for Investigative Reporting.”

And here is the full schedule:

If you are curious about what will be discussed during this conference, you may follow along on Twitter by searching the hashtag “#techraking,” or by following me on Twitter: @jaenarae. I will be dutifully tweeting and retweeting throughout the day. And if you glance at the schedule and are interested in a particular panel, please let me know! I will definitely pay closer attention and tweet more heavily during any of those panels.

Journalism may be considered my first love, and I’ve always wondered how to make it more engaging for readers/viewers/listeners. Traditionally, the news has always been very one-sided, with very little interaction between the public and journalists and editors, outside of sources and experts. We have always been writing for or talking to a fairly anonymous audience. But because of the Web and social media, journalists have found it much easier to connect with their readers/listeners/viewers, and have typically found them willing to engage or participate. It’s about time we take it up a notch.

The designers of the conference have turned the event itself into a game, with the “achievement” or prize being the chance to actually develop their news game with Coco Studios and CIR. That is a pretty huge reward for the day’s efforts. It will be interesting to see how and if that affects the game pitches.

(I will soon post a write-up with my major takeaways from the conference. Stay tuned!)

While the overall conference may not be directly related to this week’s content, achievements, badges, etc. will most certainly be discussed during the discussions and game pitches over the course of the day. I’ll be curious to note how often such incentives will be championed or preferred over other gamification elements. I can understand how it may be all too easy to fall into the trap of offering rewards just for the sake of it. Overall, I’ll be paying special attention to how people perceive gamification, especially related to some of last week’s topics of gamification versus “pointsification.” What is gamification to journalists?

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