New York Times Adapts Open Source Mini-Game For Some Meta-Journalism

from the more-than-just-a-gimmick dept

By now you’ve probably caught a link or two to the New York Times’ layout-obliterating mini-game embedded in an article about so-called “stupid games”. The article itself is an interesting (if slightly long-winded) history and mild (if slightly self-indulgent) condemnation of the “dark side” of hyperaddictive games from Tetris to Angry Birds, and while I don’t agree with much of the message, I’m glad to see it’s garnering quite a bit of attention for this clever idea to illustrate the point by including a distracting game right there on the page.

The Nieman Journalism Lab got some details on how the game was created, including the fact that it’s a fairly simple adaptation of another open source game. Jon Huang, the man behind the NYT version, sounds like a guy who really understands and embraces the potential of open sharing:

“I give all the credit to the guys behind Kick Ass. They’re a really excited pair of 18-year-old twins in Sweden,” Huang told me Wednesday. “I love that’s how the Internet works these days.”

Kick Ass is the open source game that made the Times’ interactive possible. It’s essentially a bookmarklet that allows you to wreak havoc on any given site you find yourself on. It was a perfect fit for the the theme of Sam Anderson’s Sunday magazine story, which examines the rise of games like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and others that inhibit a world very different from what we might traditionally think of as regular video games.

They also rightly praise Huang and the NYT for their creative use of technology and multimedia to enhance journalism—though, it seems worth pointing out that the more the game enhances the message of the article, the more it paradoxically weakens it as well: by using a completely pointless but addictive game found on github to improve a story, they’ve proven that such toys can have uses beyond what is immediately apparent.

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Comments on “New York Times Adapts Open Source Mini-Game For Some Meta-Journalism”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Project Glass: One day…

What if, you could just play with your friends all those games, that would make some people really annoyed since they will not be viewing the news, what could also annoy those people is somebody reading something he thinks is cool and sending it in realtime to all his friends and those people forwarding the video stream to more people, thinking about that theaters would be annoyed too imagine if a group of friends where locations is not that important anymore one could be in a theather and streaming the movie directly to others and they all shared the experience. Old ladies sharing their guilds and teaching one another how to do it and keeping away from nasty litigious creators because they can’t afford to get entangled in those people sense of entitlement.

In 20 years we may not recognize the world we live in, will it be bad? I don’t think it will, it will be different though very different and piracy will be widespread more than today could ever be.

Walks-In-Storms (profile) says:

“A state that dwarfs its men in order that they may be more docile (child-like little boys) instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes will find that with small men (who play kids’ computer games) no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which in order that the madhine might work more smoothly it has preferred to banish.” John Stuart Mill, in the book “On Liberty.”

Can anyone (my age, that is) conceive of John Wayne or Sgt John Basilone (look it up) playing computer game. Damn – being identified as male these days is insult. Having to say it is humiliating.

Walks-In-Storms (profile) says:

“A State which dwarfs (turns them into little boys) its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes — will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish.”– John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty (1859)

Can anyone imagine John Wayne or John Basilone (look it up – it’s not likely you’d know who that is) playing “Kick Ass” (whatever the hell kind of kids’ stuff crap that may be) computer games. Jesus – being called “man” nowadays is an insult; and having to admit one’s gender is humiliating.

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