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  D&D Game Makes J-School Debut  
Posted 2006-02-24 by Tony Walsh
Dated role-playing game Neverwinter Nights (2002), which is based on the official Dungeons & Dragons rules, has been modified for use as a training game for journalism students. UMNnews reports that University of Minnesota professors Nora Paul and Kathleen Hansen joined forces to rebuild Neverwinter's content from the ground up, converting the game's sword-and-sorcery content into a simulation of modern-day America.

"In the modified game, the student plays the role of a rookie reporter at the Harperville Gazette," writes Ami Berger of UMNnews. "A train has derailed in town and spilled its load of anhydrous ammonia, and the rookie reporter is assigned to write a context piece to help Gazette readers understand the implications of the accident." Players must practice journalistic skills in the modified game, from finding a good angle for the story, to interviewing characters, to in-game research in a virtual library. Once a story is filed, students' notes collected in the game are printed out, and they write a 1,000-word news story for their professor.

This ingenious and productive use of Neverwinter Nights wouldn't be possible without the toolset included in the game that gives content creators access to in-game content, a powerful scripting language, and the ability to add outside content through "hak paks." Despite the interesting method of education here, I can't imagine how it could be more effective than actually going out and reporting on a topical story.
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Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 24, 2006 @ 11:31 pm
Hey, we have that game/training module in Second Life! It's called "The Second Life Herald." In it, Jeff Brown gets to be a railroad tycoon, and...oh wait, I won't spoil it for you!
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
February 26, 2006 @ 8:23 pm
The thing about using this 'sim' rather then the real thing, is that the teachers can set up all the various bits and pieces, so that they can then better judge how "well" the student has done. Its a controlled situation, rather then the chaotic-ness of real life.
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