Brantford Newsroom is a text based 10 part digital series of branching narrative (choose your own adventure) games created in Twine that follow a fictional first-year Laurier Digital Media and Journalism undergraduate student encountering obstacles at a localized internship. Implemented weekly for the introductory Reporting and Writing for News course that is mandatory for first-year DMJ students, the Brantford Newsroom series immerses players in the reflective reality of ethical dilemmas and concentrated media ownership within the field of journalism. The games provide proper opportunity to utilize course content inside the game’s narrative followed by practical application.
Episode 1 eases players in with a straightforward setup of the character, Frankie, and her experience preparing for an internship opportunity at a local media outlet in order to finish her requirements for graduation.
Episode 3 dives a little further into the dilemmas of understanding Canadian Press Style and ethical procedures to interview locally concerned citizens about the city’s first cannabis shop opening up down the road from a school.
By Episode 7, the series takes a dramatic turn of events that endanger Frankie’s entire internship with the fate of her future laying in the hands of the players.
Dr. Gillespie approached me for this project after a previous collaboration when I directed videos for Laurier’s Teaching and Learning Department surrounding engaging teaching practices. An organic working project made it a smooth segue into what was an absolute pleasure to work on and roll it out for the student population.
Throughout the year long project, I worked closely in conjunction with DMJ Program Coordinator Bruce Gillespie as the primary Research Assistant and Game Designer. I was responsible for facilitating entry and exit surveys for data gathering in the lectures after receiving Research Ethics Board approval. I maintained an ongoing communication to act as the liaison between Dr. Gillespie’s envisioning of decision making, grounding the framing in course material, and contextualization of the skills that active undergraduate students utilize for their projects.