Tired of blatant misinformation in the media? This video game can help you and your family fight fake news!

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Tired of blatant misinformation in the media? This video game can help you and your family fight fake news!
We live in a world that is treading a very weird line between truth and reality. As advancements in deepfake technology and artificial intelligence continue to fuel paranoia among the tech-savvy, many others are just unaware of the digital revolution underway. Even among those knowledgeable about such technology, distinguishing between AI-generated individuals and real ones is a more challenging feat than we thought, studies have shown.
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Considering that the world is spending more and more time online — and with access to unbearable family WhatsApp forwards — it is paramount that consumers can tell what’s real. This is especially necessary now, an era when misinformation is increasingly being weaponised to drive political agenda. So, how do we crack the illusion?

A video game might be the solution we’re looking for.

A new study has marked the first scientific exploration of the effectiveness of the game ‘Bad News’ in a classroom environment. Developed specifically for research and educational purposes, the award-winning video game places players in the role of a fake news producer, whose main objective is to gain followers by spreading misinformation. Based on actual psychological theory, the game challenges players to discern between trustworthy sources and deceptive narratives in the game, something the developers believe would help them in real life as well.

The study engaged 516 Swedish upper secondary school students across various programs, employing different gameplay settings, including individual play, paired sessions, and whole-class competitions. All three methods yielded positive results, enhancing students' abilities to identify manipulative techniques and differentiate between reliable and misleading news.

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"The students improved their ability to identify manipulative techniques in social media posts and to distinguish between reliable and misleading news," explains co-author Thomas Nygren.

Interestingly, students who had a positive attitude towards “trustworthy” news sources were already better at telling disinformation during the game. Not only did Bad News amplify this pertinent ability, many other students could also identify manipulative tactics better after their gaming sessions.

The researchers also observed that the inclusion of competitive elements within the game may have played a pivotal role in its efficacy. By fostering a sense of competition, the game succeeded in captivating students' interest, thereby enhancing its educational impact. Nygren seized upon this insight to advocate for the broader integration of serious games in educational settings, emphasising the urgent need to promote media and information literacy — an imperative in today's digital landscape.

“We all need to become better at identifying manipulative strategies — prebunking, as it is known — since it is virtually impossible to discern deep fakes, for example, and other AI-generated disinformation with the naked eye," Nygren notes.

If you want to give Bad News a shot, the free-to-play video game can be accessed here.

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Meanwhile, the findings of this research have been published in Journal of Research on Technology in Education and can be accessed here.
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