The NAA Foundation News Challenge was held May 31-June 5 at the University of Nevada-Reno. The intent was to give college students a sense of the opportunities at newspaper companies in digital media and to interest them in working in the industry.
Over the course of the week, the students heard from a number of digital executives and leaders, including Jennifer Carroll of Gannett Co., Gary Kebbel of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Chris Hendricks of The McClatchy Co., Kerry Oslund of Schurz Communications and Eric Brown of ImpactGames.
The "challenge" portion of the workshop divided the students into three teams, each charged with developing a news game that would enhance understanding of current events while also being fun to play. Teams had to develop a concept, outline the proposed audience, develop a marketing plan and present the business model, outlining revenue potential. Each team also had an industry professional who served as a mentor.
The first game was "Jack Brown, Secret Agent," in which Brown travels to different hot spots, trying to capture Mexican drug lords, for instance, or stop North Korean missiles. While playing, users learn more about each of these topical issues.
The second game was tied to the release of the forthcoming film "2012," which predicts the end of the world. Players travel to different parts of the globe, get clues and essentially try to stay alive.
The last game, "Unemployment Joe," was a retro, Pac Man-like game in which a character loses his job and then learns about employment Web sites, how to apply unemployment benefits and more. It was also a template that could be used with a number of issues and easily be localized.
We will post the presentations for all three games, plus photos from the week and more, on the NAA Foundation Web site (http://www.naafoundation.org/) and in NAA Community soon.
And in case you're wondering, "Unemployment Joe" was the winner.
- Jeanne Fox-Alston, vice president, NAA Foundation