New app used to raise awareness of real world issues

Al Jazeera English launches mobile app #hacked to shine new light on Syria’s cyberwar

News organisation Al Jazeera English has made a mobile web app to shine a light on the realities of Syria’s cyberwar with a new mobile web app, #Hacked: Syria’s Electronic Armies.

It’s one of the latest examples of gamification being used to raise awareness of real world issues and let ordinary people explore some of the facts behind highly complex and political real life situations.

The game is based on the Juliana Ruhfus documentary People and Power, taking the films investigative journalism and turns it into a video game, asking players to gather information, contacting hackers, activists and coders to build a clearer picture of what was going on. Meanwhile, you’ll have to avoid being hacked yourself whether that’s by clicking a dodgy link or being blackmailed.

Gamifying real world events isn’t a new idea: Game The News has been playing with these concepts for a while, but this is one of the first times I can remember a news organisation directly getting involved, especially turning a documentary into an interactive experience. The plan is that by turning the news into a series of objectives, players will be more engaged.

"The gamification of interactive elements of projects like #Hacked give the user the experience of being immersed in a news story." suggested Ruhfus, talking to GamaSutra. "Having a specific task to complete, often leads them to engage emotionally and intellectually with the topic, while they gain unique perspective on the news story we are presenting through an interactive experience."

You can play #Hacked online now, and it’ll open on a computer or mobile device, although it’s designed for play on a mobile device, so it’ll look odd on a full sized screen.

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