The gamification of news keeps proving successful for news media websites. Norkom’s Fantasy Funds for example, allowed reputable financial news media to engage up to 24k players, increasing significantly readers and subscribers. Also WAN-IFRA is making its contribution to playing with news, thanks to the project NewsArcade.

Gamification occurs when a task or topic is transformed into a … gamelike activity to encourage interaction and participation, … and to break down complex subjects to make them more understandable or digestible”. For financial news media the challenge is to reach new and younger audiences by bridging the financial literacy gap. An experience like Fantasy Funds, based on real-world stock market data and played alongside current financial news, allows users to gain risk-free portfolio management experience, better understand financial information, and ultimately develop the confidence necessary to invest in the real world.

The key, as Mathias Douchet, Director of Product at The Telegraph, put it, is that there is overwhelming financial information online, but the only real way to learn how to trade is by doing it. With the gamified approach players can try their hand, while at the same time getting accustomed to the specialist content provided alongside the game by the news media. The increase in literacy results in stickiness for the news media website, and ultimately new readers and subscribers.

Fantasy Funds drew the attention of WAN-IFRA a few years back: it has been featured in the Newsroom Summit in 2021, and again last month at Digital Media Europe, where Norway’s leading business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv presented their impressive results with the game experience.

Attracting and retaining the attention of younger audiences is a challenge for all of the news media industry, and gamification is one of the most promising answers. According to statistics from February 2023, the global gamification market is valued at almost 12 billion USD, with 70% of the Global 2000 companies using game-based learning to improve employee engagement, productivity, and profitability. The industry is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 27.4% over the next several years; 14% of that growth will be in education.

Indeed, more and more news publishers are experimenting with serious games, and are likely to do so increasingly in the future.  For all these reasons, WAN-IFRA started a few months back work in a consortium of publishers that are developing a serious game thanks to EU financing, with the objective to improve news literacy and create for the news media industry new connections with distant potential audiences.

The game will allow players to experience the journalism process with current news stories, and real sources, facts and photos. The user will thus be empowered to create an interactive news story, gain insight in journalism and better understand the responsibilities involved.

News publishers will be provided with a tool that will be easy to adapt to their own websites also in the presence of paywalls, and that will be devised to be easy to integrate in the workflow of their newsrooms.  To make sure of this, the consortium produced a thorough report on user requirements which includes the point of view of several journalists and publishers, as well as findings on GenZ’s habits in consuming news.

Testing of the prototype will start in June through experiments with the different target audiences, and the first phase of proper piloting is expected for the coming fall. In the meantime, interested parties can sign up for the NewsArcade newsletter, keep an eye on the LinkedIn channel, and write to if they wish to be involved in the experiments with the minimum viable project that is on its way.

News Arcade – Seriously Play the News is co-funded by the European Education and Culture ExecutiveAgency as part of Creative Europe- Media (project no: 101060250), has a two-year
duration (September 2022-August 2024) and involves eight partners from five
European countries.

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