In the history of the internet, it has never been a good idea to blindly believe everything you read online. Now more than ever, it is important for users to be critical of the media they consume and not take things at face value.
Enter Bad News, an online game that hopes to teach users about how fake news spreads online. The game has you take on the rile of a propagandist, writing inflammatory headlines, creating memes, and spreading misinformation to increase outrage wherever possible. The simple gameplay is text based. A prompt appears on screen, and you are given two possible responses.
You start with a few fake tweets, and graduate to running your own fake news site. The goal is to balance posting sensational things to gain followers, while being careful to not completely destroy your credibility.
Every step of the way the game pushes you towards making the worst, most outlandish possible choices. When choosing between starting a blog and a fake news site, if you select a blog, the game actually won’t let you. It pushes you back towards a fake news site, where it again encourages you to give yourself the fake title of editor in-chief. You even earn a badge for doing so.
The game has been developed by DROG, an organization who describe themselves as “a multidisciplinary team of academics, journalists and media-experts,” who are aiming to educate people on fake news to allow them to better spot it when they see it. “By letting you experience how fake news works we increase your resistance to it. This is what makes our games, workshops, public lectures and consulting unique.”
The game manages to be a lot of fun and uncomfortable at the same time, showing you exactly how outlets can manipulate people and come off as credible even if they have nothing to back it up. If you’re feeling particularly amoral today and want to try your hand at tricking people into believing any absurd thing you have to say, you can play the game online for free.