How to create a news game

Can any journalist make a game around a news story?

A non-coder Guardian reporter, Elena Cresci, attended a hackathon to see if it could be done.

The aim: “To develop, in just 48 hours, a prototype news game that helps to explain topics in the news.”

The result: “So, can you create a game from scratch without any coding or design experience? Theoretically, yes – so long as you’ve got a coder and designer on your side. “At the end of the 48-hours, we had a playable game, albeit not nearly as good-looking as some of the others on display.

“I think it’s important to manage your expectations with a project like this. While it’s easier than ever before to make your own game, without the necessary skills, you’re not going to end up with the next Angry Birds.”

Here’s the game her team came up, with a game called Flap Your Privilege 

flap your privilege

Elena says of it: “The idea was to make different profiles which would be randomly selected and would be more difficult depending on what ‘profile’ you had. So, for example, the ‘elderly’ profile would move incredibly slowly, making it more difficult to finish the level. The LGBT profile had more obstacles. But if you were lucky enough to land on the ‘white, heterosexual, male’ profile, your bird flaps through the level with relative ease.”

Want to make your own game?

The Guardian suggests these five tools you can use to make your own.

They are introduced below. In the next module, we’ll look at how to create a game in the simplest of them – Twine.

1. Twine

Creating a game on Twine is no harder than building a PowerPoint presentation.

Here’s an example of a game made with Twine

depression quest

Depression Quest is described by the team behind it as “An interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment.”

It comes with a health warning before you play: “Depression Quest …deals with living with depression in a very literal way. This game is not meant to be a fun or lighthearted experience… This game uses stark depictions of people in very dark places. if you are suicidal, please stop playing and visit [and they give a link]”

The game is text based, and takes you into a series of scenarios in which you are invited to choose from a number of choices of action. Which you choose depends how the game develops for you.

2. Scratch


Check out Scratch here.

Find starter projects here.

You can work on these starter projects and remix them, creating your own content. There are hundreds of examples of what others have done with each demo.

Under the Stories section are:

5 random facts about me

Howler, which  lets you create a profile of a character.

Virtual tour, which  is a guide to where the Scratch team at MIT works, but you can replace their locations with your own.

3. Game Salad

4. Gamemaker: Studio

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5. Unity 5

Unity 5 requires coding knowledge, but there are good tutorials here.