“The New York Times Simulator” allows the player to create editions of the printed newspaper while trying to increase readership

The latest criticism of the Gaza coverage New York Times comes from an unlikely source – an independent game developer. Earlier this week, Pittsburgh-based developer Molleindustria released its new simulation game called The New York Times Simulator.

The game puts each player in the position of editor-in-chief. The objective is simple: build the first page of the newspaper NYTimes every day. This includes choosing stories and headlines, as well as where they will be placed on the main page.

The stories that feed the newspaper include news about union initiatives at Amazon factories and the latest in climate research, as well as lifestyle topics. A headline like “Biden said he would stop drilling. Then reality arrived”appears alongside a story called “Why are grapes suddenly everywhere?”

But there is an emphasis throughout the game on coverage of the war in Gaza, where more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, Israeli forces and blockades of humanitarian aid.

In the game, decisions about how to cover the war have consequences for the newspaper’s financial results. Three “interest groups” carefully observe each curve of the simulator, and the measurement graphs show the real-time approval level of the “Police”, “Israel” e “The riches”.

Although the readership starts at 500 thousand, the amount will also increase and decrease depending on your selections. The impact of each choice is only applied when you place that story “above the fold”. Ultimately, the goal of the game is to build a readership of 10 million subscribers without getting fired.

There is no clear, individual cause and effect in the simulator, as it never fully exposes its internal logic. But as you play, the patterns become clear.

For example, one of the quickest ways to alienate your “interest groups” is to put a story in the spotlight with an uncompromising take on Israel’s murder of Palestinian civilians, or one that labels it genocide.

There are ways around this. Pressing the edit button reshapes a post, adjusting the title text and potentially lessening its negative impact. “Israel is starving the children of Gaza” suddenly changes to “Hunger is chasing the children of Gaza”.

By the way, that’s a real headline from an opinion piece published on New York Times in February. In fact, Molleindustria’s release notes called the entire game “ripped from the headlines”. Most of the simulator’s headlines are taken directly from the source.

Along with the game, the developers released a public Google spreadsheet with links to 107 publications used in the simulator. Most of the headlines New York Times They are textual and were published last year. Some, however, have been slightly altered or removed from other major media outlets, including CNN, NBC e The Washington Post.

Headline edits are in part taken from the Media Responsibility Tracker, NewsDiffswhich manages the bot account Editing TheGrayLady no X (ex-Twitter).

The Simulator New York Times is just the latest satire game from indie developer Molleindustria, which has been publishing experimental products for nearly two decades. The nickname is used by Paolo Pedercini, who is also a professor of game design at Carnegie Mellon University. In the past, Pedercini has taken aim at McDonald’s in a Farmville-style depiction of a cattle slaughterhouse, and at the fossil fuel industry with a worldwide resource extraction game called Oiligarchy.

The North American newspaper simulator takes inspiration from games outside the studio, which similarly attempted to capture the ethical and business decisions required to run a news publication.

The release notes mention the 2012 game The Republia Times as inspiration. Likewise, this game puts players in the role of editor-in-chief, examining headlines to construct the front page of a fictional newspaper. However, players in this game face the censorship regime of a fictional authoritarian government.

This latest update to the game, according to Pedercini, is not intended to denounce censorship, but rather “train players to quickly identify common framing techniques”.

In particular, the professor observes the routine use of the passive voice in newspaper headlines. New York Timeswhich remove the State of Israel or the police in the US as actors in stories about violence.

A package that profiles the Palestinians killed in Israeli bombings, for example, is titled “Lives Ended in Gaza”. In national coverage, it shows the frequent use of prejudiced euphemisms, such as “police-involved shooting”.

“Originally, I wanted to make parody headlines”writes Pedercini. “But I just couldn’t think of anything more shameful and artificial than what already exists.”

An earlier version of this story referred to more than 30,000 Palestinian civilian deaths, but as the NPRthe number of deaths “it is not clear how many soldiers are among the dead”. O New York Times reported, on February 29, that “Many experts say the official death toll is most likely an undercount, given the difficulty of accurately counting deaths amid relentless fighting, communications disruptions, a collapsing medical system and people believed to still be under the rubble. ”.

Text translated by Gabriel Bandeira. Read the original in English.

O Poder360 has a partnership with two divisions of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation: the Nieman Journalism Lab and the Nieman Reports. The agreement consists of translating the texts written by Nieman Journalism Lab and Nieman Reports into Portuguese and publishing this material on Poder360. To access all translations already published, click here.

Source: https://www.poder360.com.br/nieman/jogo-simula-cobertura-da-guerra-em-gaza-no-new-york-times/

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