Auroch Digital Shortlisted for GamesIndustry Innovation Award!

Auroch Digital's Game the News project has been shortlisted for Innovation in Social Responsibility at GamesIndustry Innovation Awards! We're incredibly honoured to be shortlisted amongst so many worthy and amazing projects. Here's the full list of the category we're in:

Gaming has always been about fun: bringing some goodness into the world via the medium of play. With this prize we hope to celebrate those companies who choose to give something back to their communities and society at large ­ either through direct work for charity (or by being a charity itself), making staff feel valued or the support of good causes with fundraising drives or sponsorship. With the mainstream press still happy to keep games at the front of the evil scapegoat folder, these are the initiatives which are fighting back.

DonateGames

Like any charity, DonateGames relies on the generosity of its patrons, but by focusing on the donation of unwanted games and hardware instead of cash, this group lets people clean their lofts and their consciences in one fell swoop.

HumbleBundle

What began as a way of garnering attention for indie titles whilst also giving to several charities, the Humble Bundle now attracts the world's biggest publishers. By giving the customer the power over how much goes where, Humble Bundle has made its giving completely transparent and hugely popular.

GametheNews.net

Encouraging young people to take an interest in the world of current affairs isn't easy, but Auroch Digital's project has produced 15 educational short games which bring today's key issues to the fore in a memorable and enjoyable fashion.

Special Effect

Special Effect changes lives. It might not have the scope of some of the projects here, but an incredible bespoke service and tremendous levels of engagement and after care have made it one of the industry's most treasured and admired outfits.

RuneScape - Well of Goodwill Initiative

Proof that free-to-play can definitely be used for good, this in-game fundraiser from Jagex raised over $90,000 for good causes as players donated in-game funds equivalent to thousands of hours of effort.

GamesAid

Supporting a wide range of charities voted for members, GamesAid is never afraid to try something new to raise money. A constant calendar of events and interesting new activities keeps this charity at the forefront of industry minds year round - raising over £1 million for good causes in the process.

A special day for James - Total War: ROME II

A truly personal event dedicated to a single member of the Total War community, A special day for James helped realise the dreams of a terminally ill young man suffering from liver cancer, bringing together the studio's staff and players for a cause which touched more than just one life.

Please vote for us here, if you think we deserve it of course!

Gamifying 'Jack the Ripper'?

9th November, 2013: On the 125th anniversary of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, Bristol based indie GameTheNews announces a new title based on the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders. Today, Friday 8 November 2013, Bristol-based indie GameTheNews.net announces its latest development, a new title based on the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' murders called JtR125, one of six new collaborations between filmmakers, academic researchers and creative companies as part of the REACT Future Documentary Sandbox, a nationwide programme to explore the theme of Future Documentary funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

jtr5

125 years ago Mary Jane Kelly was murdered, her badly mutilated body found by a rent collector seeking her arrears on the morning of November 9, 1888. The terrible nature of the murders by Jack The Ripper, who himself was never brought to justice, has ensured the ‘Ripper’ killings remain a mystery that still repulses, contests, fascinates and resonates today.

GameTheNews.net, known for taking a bold approach to difficult subjects using games to address tough news stories, is applying game and documentary mechanics to their latest subject, Jack the Ripper, to find out what lessons are still to be learned. The lead developer on JtR125, Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital who produces GamesTheNews, says, “we're not going to make a first-person Ripper game about the killer - we're much more interested in the society that created the conditions that allowed this to happen and the plight of his victims. The fact that 125 years later we're still talking about this suggests to me that there are lessons still to be learned. The events themselves were a catalyst for social change. It was also a key time in the birth of a number of areas of our society, notably the tabloid newspapers and forensic science. We're keen to create an interactive documentary using the medium of games and allow the player to explore the issues and events themselves.”

As part of the Future Documentary Sandbox Rawlings has been paired with Patrick Crogan, games and digital media expert, University of the West of England, and Professor of Media and Journalism at Middlesex, Janet Jones.

Dr Crogan commented, “JtR125 is certainly pushing the envelope of both documentary and game formats. There are some risks with treating historical material the wrong way, and we don’t want to simply repeat the way many commercial games bolster their realism with bits of archival footage of war or other major historical events. With the development of apps other interactive forms there’s real potential to make a powerful and thoughtful experience that opens up new perspectives for people about something like the Ripper mystery.”

Professor Jones remarked, "The idea with JtR125 is to test the break-down of generic boundaries between games and serious documentary so that the world can be reported in a potentially more dynamic and investigative way that might better engage younger audiences accustomed to finding things out through digital play. Maybe in five or ten years time, every BBC newsroom will have a gaming desk alongside Radio, TV and online. We're focusing on how we might create acceptable templates for merging archive, talking head (all the traditional factual production conventions) within a game framework without destroying the experience or breaking the creative paradigm. There are undoubtedly lines to be drawn here and as we develop the Jack the Ripper game we hope to be able to draw those lines more clearly."

Related Links/Tweets:

https://twitter.com/G4C/status/398965685420048385

Endgame Syria launched on Apple without reference to 'Syria', also updated on Android and Released on Facebook and PC

21st MARCH 2012, BRISTOL, UK: The controversial newsgame, Endgame Syria, has been updated on Android and released on two new platforms - PC and Facebook and yet the developer is still struggling to release the original title on Apple's App Store.  After three rejections, the developer has had to not only remove references to specific groups that are part of the conflict, but  any reference to aswell as the actual word 'Syria' too.  As a result the much-amended version of Endgame:Syria has made it past Apple's approval process as 'Endgame:Eurasia'. The developer, GameTheNews.net's Tomas Rawlings remarked, "We've come to the end of three rejections and one appeal and the only way we've been able to get Endgame:Syria out on iOS was to remove all references to the real world and sadly that changes it from a 'newsgame' into just a 'game'.  We've released this game version so at least players with Apple devices can get a feel for what we originally intended for the platform.  We are of course disappointed to not be able to release the game and hope that our experience informs a wider debate about how games have matured into a form that would benefit from a reappraisal by some."  To help players using the App Store version to get a feel for the original title they have released a conversion guide to explain how the wording of the game has had to be changed.  By contrast to Apple's policy decision, Endgame:Syria has been recognized by Games For Change, one of the world's leading exponents of how games can be used beyond play.

The updated version on Android and for PC adds newer events from the ongoing war including Scud Missile strikes and the enhanced fears over WMDs.  The game is free and available now from Google Play.  It is also free on PC and can be downloaded from Desura, GamersGate, IndieCity, Indievania, and GameJolt.

Endgame:Syria was launched last year and allows players to explore the difficulties and options open to the rebel side in the ongoing Syrian civil war. The game attracted wide coverage for not only its subject matter but how it was received by gaming and non-gaming audiences.  The developer, GameTheNews.net, has released a wide variety of games that explore current affairs from a commentary on the horse-meat scandal to covering science and technology news.

Endgame Syria to Eurasia
Card Changes in Endgame:Syria

Endgame:Syria Becomes Global Talking-Point

Our GameTheNews.net project recently released what is, the world's first game to cover an ongoing war as news.  This newly emergent form of media, 'news games' and our contribution to the form, 'Endgame:Syria', has seen a huge surge in interest and players following its rejection by Apple's App Store (though it is online and on Android).  As a result GameTheNews.net and Endgame:Syria have become global talking-points, having recently been given extensive coverage by the BBC, the Economist, The Guardian, Venture Beat, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al-Jazeera to name but a few.  (There is a list of articles here and more on the reaction over at the designer's personal blog.)  Below are two examples of the coverage, starting with an article on Foreign Policy:

Many people would be hard-pressed to find Syria on a map, let alone know the factions that are fighting and the outside nations that are backing them. A simple computer card game may not be deep, but when players ponder whether to play a "Saudi Support for the Rebels" or a "Rebels Assassinate Key Regime Leader" card, they are making decisions, and that is how humans learn best. Perhaps it will spur them to learn more current events, or if nothing else, they may remember a few names and places, and who is fighting who. At the least, they will learn a lot more than playing Angry Birds on an iPhone.

Wired made these key points on the discussion:

As gamers, we are generally happy to delve into historical battles such as World War II in Medal of Honor, despite the devastation, violence and death, and barely an eyelid was batted when the genre moved into modern warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan with its latter sequels. However, delving into an ongoing conflict, where tensions are extremely high and the subject matter sensitive, is another matter entirely. .. By addressing a current civil war and its multiple factions and infinite social complexities, Endgame: Syria is not giving us any answers -- it's encouraging us to ask more questions.

Try Endgame:Syria for yourself at GameTheNews.net!

The next newsgames to be released from GameTheNews are currently in development about the War on Drugs and Climate Change, coming soon!

Endgame:Syria screenshot

A Serious Game about Waste and Water

We've been working alongside ToolBox Design with Wessex Water on a game to help people understand what can (and can't) be put down the drain. Tomas has written a little about the project:

Above is an image of two critters in the most recent Wessex Water magazine that dropped though my letterbox. They are the stars of a new iPhone/iPod game that I've been working on along with the nice people of ToolBox Design. This cute little bundle of digitally-smelly fun is a game that as well as being enjoyable, also teaches the player about what waste you should and shouldn't put down the drain or flush down your loo. The serious message behind the game is that putting the wrong stuff into the sewer system not only risks creating a blocked drain for you (eew!) but can also have knock-ons that waste lots of water and could cause environmental damage. See here for more information.