Macon Money: A social game in Georgia tries to bring residents together across traditional boundaries

from Nieman Journalism Lab

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The Knight Foundation worked with a game developer to create a new local currency and a framework to break out of demographic limitations of the past.

by Adrienne la France

The developers behind Angry Birds said last August that players were averaging about 200 million minutes per day with the game. If that stat has held steady (and at the time Rovio said it was “growing exponentially”), it means that the world has played more than 300,000 years of Angry Birds.

In other words, stretched out linearly, our collective time spent flinging digital birds at pigs would predate the existence of modern humans. If you work in a newsroom, the thought of this level of audience engagement probably makes you swoon.

“The game industry is a $60 billion industry,” the Knight Foundation’s Jessica Goldfin told me. “When you talk about meeting people where they are, well, they’re playing games. Eleven million people play World of Warcraft…So how do you then take these mechanics, these games where people are, and build in some sort of higher social purpose or embed them within a social system?”

I recently caught up with Goldfin and the foundation’s Beverly Blake about a Knight-funded social-impact game called Macon Money, which was aimed at strengthening community ties and bolstering economic revitalization in Macon, Ga. This wasn’t a newsy experiment per se, but its focus on how to engage communities — and exploring new ways to connect them with one another — is in many ways applicable to newsrooms still finding their footing in an ever-changing digital media world.

Read more at Nieman Journalism Lab

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.