The Gamification of News: Immersive Journalism and Project Syria

Journalism at its core aims to simply present the news. However, what is not simple about journalism is the way the news is presented. In 2016, its no longer the time for daily bulletins and 30 minute segments on television to catch the most important headlines – it is the time for innovation.

The issue with traditional news representation is that over time, legacy media mediums have become insufficient in keeping up with fast-paced and information saturated social media platforms. Breaking news happens, is retweeted, discussed between friends, and then scrolled past. Although faster than legacy media, social media journalism also fails to hold the attention of its audience long enough to make a hard hitting impact.

This however, is all being challenged by a new branch of journalism.

Immersive journalism is the ‘production of news in a form in which people can gain first person experiences of the events or situation described in news stories.’ Immersive journalism captures the audience and transports them to a place that a newspaper can not by using 3D technology and virtual reality to create a full body sensory experience for. It demands attention from the audience.

When done well, it becomes a powerful medium for storytelling.

This has been exemplified through Project Syria – an immersive journalism piece about Syrian refugee children. Written and directed by Nonny de la Peñathe piece uses virtual reality technologies, such as high resolution virtual reality goggles, to make the audience feel as if they are on scene in Syria. Audiences are no longer separated by a television screen to one of the worlds most pressing issues.

Project Syria has been created through the use of 3D photo-realistic models that have been crafted from authentic film, audio, and photographs taken from scenes of crisis in Syria. The director has stated that herself and her team have spent so much of their time on this ‘re-creation’ of Syria to give the audience an ‘astonishing sense of presence that the use of technology affords.’ By making the audience understand how difficult the circumstances are, the creators of Project Syria hope to make a change in the way people view the crisis.

Project Syria is just one example that immersive journalism has proved its value as a tool to educate, inform, and gather awareness around contemporary social issues. The successfulness of immersive journalism is partly due to the fact it commands attention from the audience in an era where the average time spent on a website is between 10 – 20 seconds.

‘It fully holds your attention in a way that no other screen can. You can’t look away to check your texts, and you don’t want to anyway; your mind tricks your body into believing that you’re present in some other location, and that’s kind of transfixing.’ (Nonny de la Peña)

Immersive journalism is a powerful and transfixing new journalistic practice that is going to take the world by storm, and revolutionise the way we view and present news.

 

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