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.