Water Cooler Games served as the web's primary forum for "videogames with an agenda" — coverage of the uses of video games in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment.
The site was maintained at watercoolergames.org
from 2003-2009, where it was edited by myself and Gonzalo Frasca
. It is now archived here in full.
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Today, one of my videogames is on the front page of the Gray Lady.
Almost four years ago, Gonzalo suggested "newsgames" as a genre that intersects videogames and political cartoons. Last year, my studio Persuasive Games took our own take on this genre with The Arcade Wire series (Airport Security, Oil God, Bacteria Salad, Xtreme Xmas Shopping), published by AddictingGames.com/Shockwave.com. Those games enjoyed considerable success, tallying at least 10 million plays or so. But Shockwave is still a gaming site, reaching gamers, not necessarily reaching ordinary citizens more broadly. And that's what news and editorial should do.
Today, I'm excited to announce that Persuasive Games has a new publishing relationship with The New York Times, in which they will be publishing newsgames we create on their op-ed page, as editorial content, not just as games. This is unprecedented, and at the risk of tooting my own horn, I think it represents another important shift in videogames as a medium. This is news/editorial in videogame form, rather than videogames trying to make news fun. The fact that the Times is often considered the national newspaper of record makes this moment even more notable, and gratifying.
The first game is Food Import Folly. The game is about the experience of extremely limited FDA inspection on food imports, and just what that scarcity of resources actually feels like. To play, you have to be a paid TimesSelect subscriber (NY Times puts all their editorial content behind the TimesSelect subscription wall). There's more info and screenshots on the Persuasive Games website.
Like most of our newsgames, timeliness was an important consideration. Food Import Folly was created in a week's time. Congrats to my team at Persuasive Games for their hard work. And look for more of our newsgames in the newspaper, in the near future.