The inoculation theory asserts that when the mind is exposed to weakened doses of disinformation, it is later able to recognize it and therefore handle it better. He effectiveness of this has been proven in multiple studies. Bad News Company has taken this theory and developed several serious games, in which the player learns to recognize online manipulation tactics and have fun while doing so. The multiplayer game Under Pressure is specifically developed to be used in classrooms. The game was a result of the PEGAP.
Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi
Games can be part an essential part of educational programs, especially if they can be fully integrated into a curriculum. Young people can be better engaged and informed to detect various types of disinformation. The Bad News Company is one example of an organization creating serious gaming against disinformation. The company has developed several serious games, in which the player learns to recognize online manipulation tactics and have fun while doing so. The multiplayer game ‘Under Pressure’ is specifically developed to be used in classrooms and is a result of the PEGAP.
Games can be implemented as a “vaccine against disinformation”. In order to defend against the dark arts of disinformation one needs to be flexible and build psychological resistance to them. The idea is that people aren’t inoculated against specific examples of disinformation, but against types of disinformation. For example, the use of emotions. The player will learn how to detect and understand how emotions are regulated when we see something online. In this game, the player has to identify the misinformation. Participants are split between the two groups, the bad news and the good, truthful news. Some of this news is fake and some is real, the player can detect it according to the headline. Eventually, people will find instances of disinformation much more easily.
‘Bad News’ is a multiplier game used in classrooms. The company which created ‘Bad News’ focuses on disinformation and has developed similar games. Disinformation refers to misleading information and the techniques that the media uses to deceive people. Fake news constitutes one element of disinformation and is often not completely fake, some times just misrepresented or manipulated. The Bad News Company designs and creates serious games that help people to detect these techniques and tactics of manipulation. Other games have been created about disinformation being used to destabilize politics and gives more insight on how information is manipulated around the elections. Some are concentrated on the disinformation surrounding Covid-19 and the global pandemic. Finally, people get more involved and encouraged to think more critically about what they see online.
‘Under Pressure’ is a game developed with several partners and it is part of a larger education program. It aims to educate young people throughout Europe and has been implemented in classrooms all over Europe. Students gain more knowledge about the techniques and strategies that make people more susceptible to disinformation. The program is founded on peer education in the classroom. The disinformation is categorized by various tactics like disguise (pretend to be someone else, especially in twitter), manipulation (learn how to use emotion), polarization (twitter fights, misrepresenting certain views in order to make people more divided), conspiring (spreading fake theories and let them be angrier), discrediting (if you are a troll, that you will be attacked to it, ignore allegations), and trolling (make full out of things of internet). Students develop their leadership qualities and exchange experiences, but the most fun aspect is that there is high interaction between students. The goal is to think about one’s choices a little more and justify them in the game, and afterwards. Everyone can use this knowledge to their advantage.
Watch the discussion:
- Lisa Poot, Project Officer, Bad News, The Netherlands
- Jon Roozenbeek, Online games creator, researcher, DROG / Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge
Nikos Panagiotou, Associate Professor, Head of DCN Global, Greece
This event is co-organized by Digital Communication Network and World Learning and is part of DCNSEE’s Ideas in Action — Digital Engagement, a series of virtual events launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
DCN is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges. Digital Communication Network created in 2015, is a 7.000 member strong collaborative network that connects professionals from a variety of fields and different regions of the world, committed to have an impact in the new information space.