The Misinformation Game
Misinformation is known to be a problem in our society which is hard to overcome and understand. “Ninety-five percent of Americans identified misinformation as a problem when they’re trying to access important information.” However, with the rise of misinformation, there is a push for better education in this unknown field. Below, I have played two different misinformation educational games and written my reviews.
How to Play:
Starting off with the first misinformation game, Bad News brings the user through a series of 6 misinformation tactics:
You start on the homepage where they briefly describe the goal stating, “From fake news to chaos! How bad are you? Get as many followers as you can.” Then you click, start. The format of the entire game is generated like a text message and some of the messages you are able to choose a specific answer.
As you play, you are prompted to create fake tweets. Ultimately, you end up starting a blog or a news site to gain as many followers and increase your credibility. The game shows that your credibility can rise even when you are promoting false information.
You go through each of the 6 tactics learning more about how easy it is for people to create lies and spread them among a very gullible audience. The generated text asks you questions to ignite your thinking about the motivations behind your movements and tactics. In addition, the text messages guide you through the creation of this misinformation. After each technique is mastered, you are awarded a badge with a little statement about which technique or tactic you conquered and what it means.
What it teaches you:
This game teaches you about the different techniques that are used to spread misinformation. What’s interesting about this game is that you play in the perspective of the person creating the misinformation. This tactic is very intriguing because it really transports you into the mindset of someone who promotes misinformation. Through this transfer of ideology you learn the inside thought process and mechanics of the other side.
Personally, it took me a couple tactics in order to actually get the hang of the game and understand the goal. It was hard for my instincts and first reactions to be creating misinformation and lying to an audience, because for the past few months I have been proactively trying to do the opposite. Trying to switch my brain to actively think like someone who creates misinformation was difficult. However, after some trials and errors, I understood what the main goal was and then started to comprehend how this game could actually benefit the user.
By allowing yourself to get a glimpse into the other side, you can better equip yourself to combat misinformation when these techniques and tactics are promoted against you. For example, in any sort of game or battle, it’s always best when you know what your opponent is thinking. Because then you can stay one step ahead of them and not lose. In this case, when you understand the other side, you can better prepare yourself when reading information to understand when it is actually misinformation or disinformation.
If you want to see some gameplay the Bad News game here a YouTube video which goes through the entire game.
How to Play:
This game is pretty simple and straightforward. You start by choosing the difficulty level which ranges from easy to hard. Once you click the level, you are brought to a page with a news article in the middle of the screen. There is a title, a short summary of the main points of the article, a picture, and the source of the article at the bottom. Below the article, you find a green check mark on the right and a red x mark on the left, with the round number in between the two icons. You are in charge of deciding if the article is true or fake, and you “win” by completing all the levels. The main goal is to recognize which articles are real and which are fake in addition to increasing your score by not being fooled by the fake articles.
What it teaches you:
This game does a very good job at teaching you realistically how to catch and notice if an article is fake. It allows you to practice locating and recognizing misinformation. The skills that you develop in this game transfer into your everyday life.
Overall, I felt pretty confident in my ability to understand and gauge if an article was real or fake. I think this is a very practical game, since in our daily lives, we normally have to decipher if an article is true or false. However, in the game there are no penalties for you choosing the wrong answer. I first started in the easy level since it was my first time playing. It wasn’t very difficult to see which article was true and which article was fake especially when you looked at where the article was published from. The hard level was definitely more difficult and took me longer to figure out which article was true or fake, and even then, I didn’t always get it correct.
Below is a video of someone going through the Factitious game to give you a more visual idea of how the game plays out.
When looking into misinformation research and educational information, this article by Stephanie Pappas dives into “Fighting fake news in the classroom.” She talks through situations and questions teachers use to prompt students to digest and consider different misinformation problems. Explaining that everyone is vulnerable to disinformation.
Additionally, one of the professors she interviewed said, “The more I’ve been teaching, I realize it’s really about teaching how to think rather than what to think.” Overall, misinformation games are helpful to get your brain thinking and actively aware of misinformation. After playing these games, I feel like I have a better radar for recognizing misinformation. I don’t think misinformation games can fix our misinformation problem but they can contribute to improved mindfulness towards misinformation in our everyday lives. The skills we practice and train will ultimately help us in the long run.
“The ability to use a device fluently does not mean that you automatically have the sophistication to evaluate the information that the device spews forth.”Same Wineburg