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  Ignoring Local Gamers  
 
 
Posted 2006-11-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'm a bit annoyed with Toronto weekly NOW for failing to find a local connection in its story "Activist Gaming Takes Hold," that ran in last week's edition. It's great that NOW writer David Silverberg covered serious games such as Disaffected!, Darfur Is Dying, The Organizing Game and the McDonald's Videogame, but where's Pax Warrior? NOW is a local weekly, so why not cover Toronto-based game developer 23 YYZee? The studio's serious game Pax Warrior explores peacekeeping in Rwanda and incorporates social studies and history curricula for classroom use. The game was licensed for free to over 200,000 Canadian high school students--that's a generation of potential "activist gamers." NOW clearly dropped the ball on this one.

As an occasional source for the mainstream media, it frustrates me when domestic media outlets go for international talking heads instead of local experts. Earlier this year, Canada's Exclaim! magazine ran a weak piece on Alternate Reality Gaming without one Canadian connection (despite some very obvious choices). I was approached by a producer a month ago about a Canadian TV documentary on MMOs, but he wasn't looking for my participation, only my list of international contacts. Admittedly, I'm crying sour grapes here, but I could have added to the NOW piece on "activist gaming," having written a semi-satirical call to arms for Sims Online players (featured in Canada's Shift Magazine), having once been "disaffected" as a Kinko's midnight shift worker in downtown Toronto, and currently teaching at "The City College" in a Game Design program geared towards serious games. The CBC (Canada's national public broadcaster) has covered Second Life a few times, but doesn't have a great track record for involving Canadian subject-matter experts--here's a recent example (I could have told them it was a non-news item, pointing to earlier precedents).

I'm left wondering how local experts can be more often or more easily recognized by local media outlets. I feel like the burden of blame lies on writers and producers for not doing their homework (flipping through Sources doesn't count as research), but maybe part of the problem is a lack of local visibility. There's a catch-22 at play here: The less local media outlets feature local experts, the less often local experts will be seen, and the less likely they'll be featured. Hopefully this post will soak up some Google juice, although evidence suggests most MSM researchers don't actually use search engines.
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
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