Serious Games Against Disinformation: Armenian & Georgian Games
The Digital Communication Network is designing another thematic series of events titled “Serious Games Against Disinformation” to highlight the importance of the game industry focusing on social issues. Through our partners and experts from all over the globe, we will be discussing different approaches towards the games in various geographies, as well as looking at case studies of certain games which promote digital and media literacy.
In this virtual discussion we discuss about Armenian and Georgian games.
Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi
Industries with a great focus on games with social impact have recently been more heavily developed in Armenia and Georgia. In today’s webinar, we explored the games that have been used to promote digital and media literacy. In Armenia, disinformation is an important issue of late due to the general elections. A handbook for teachers with a game they can play in their classrooms has been developed as a means to combat disinformation. The game is part of a larger digital package on the topic. The first game in the package is “Media Battle” in Armenian, consisting of a third-party verification process. This game is spread specifically during media literacy week. “Media Battle” comes in ten stages that correspond to ten topics in a handbook. A stage refers to the skills needed to distinguish what kind of professions are within media or what kind of elements journalists and creators need to create a piece.
“We can’t fight disinformation, if we don’t have media literacy”
Another game is “The Adventures of Literatus” in which kids must search for the truth and identify manipulation. There is a similar game about digital literacy, security, passwords, mobile devices, social media, and personal data. All of the above-mentioned games are available online. Children learn to check the facts, that media can be manipulative, and journalistic ethics.
In Georgia, games are developed by media research organizations to target media literacy skills. Among the important topics covered in Georgian games are identifying fake accounts, cyberbullying and cybersecurity, imposter content, visual manipulation, propaganda techniques and geolocation. These games specifically target youth and teachers. Some online games help teachers to incorporate media literacy in their curriculum. An example is the “Troll Island” game about fake accounts, URL addresses, personal information, photos, habits, and comments.
Another is “Dr. Fake” in which players learn about cybersecurity and trolling by identifying deepfake, troll, clone, and phishing websites. “Grandma’s Album” is a game about geolocation skills while “Measure the Truth and Your Nose” discusses propaganda techniques, photo metadata, manipulation with religious feelings, photo manipulations and questions invented by satiric outlets. In the region, Pro-Russian media has tried to develop hate speech about various groups. The majority of young people acknowledge that it is Russian propaganda, but the last game, “Hate or Tolerate” is about building a story to develop sensitivity towards others.
Troll bots and deepfakes are threatening democracy, but in Georgia there is one advantage, there is a strong sense of civil society. Technologies can be used for innovation and in a post-truth era, stating that a fact is misinformation is not enough to engage, entertain, and educate an audience. These games are successful because there are not technical buffs, the target audience is well defined, colloquial language is used, and successful communications campaign have been designed.
Watch the discussion:
Lusine Grigoryan, head of the media literacy program at Media Initiatives Center (MIC)
Digital games can be fun but they can be educational too. And games are especially great for teaching about media. Media Initiatives Center has developed 3 games about media literacy, fact checking and digital security. During the past several years “Media Battle”, “The Adventures of Literatus” and “Tsantsar” have become popular among school and university students, as well as educators who are searching for interactive new teaching tools. Some of the games are played not only in Armenia but also in Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova.
Tamar Kintsurashvili, Executive Director of Media Development Foundation (MDF), Georgia
Media Development Foundation (MDF) has created a number of popular educational online-games as media and information literacy resources over the years aimed at developing critical thinking in youth and supporting informed media consumption.
MDF online games such as “Shopping in Milan”, “Cyber Bullying” and “Trolls Island” help the player develop skills to identify, prevent and respond to cyber threats such as cyberbullying and social media trolls, raising awareness on the topic of personal data protection and cyber hygiene in general.
MDF online games are widely popular in Georgia among youngsters and are often used during MDF’s media literacy trainings in regions as well as during game fairs and forums.
Teona Tomashvili, co-founder and projects lead, ForSet, Georgia
While the West has been suffering from fake news and misinformation, one can imagine what misinformation can do to smaller, more fragile democracies, like Georgia. Fortunately, Georgia has a strong civil society sector and lately, they have been fighting fake news in non-mainstream ways — using gamification. DCN Georgia is actively mapping out their digital ecosystem and keeping close ties with the organizations that are fighting fake news with gamification. In this webinar, you will learn about four organizations — ForSet, DemLab, Media Development Foundation and On.ge and their work. The games are mainly developed and distributed for the Georgian speaking audience, but most of them are also translated into Armenian and Azerbaijani for the minority citizens.
Nikos Panagiotou, Associate Professor, Head of DCN Global, Greece
Lusine Grigoryan is the head of the media literacy program at Media Initiatives Center (MIC) in Armenia. Since 2011 she has been working on developing ML curriculum, resources for educators, producing educational computer games, conducting training and advocating for policy change in Armenia. MIC’s work in promoting ML was awarded with UNESCO’s GAPMIL top prize in 2017. Lusine also teaches media literacy and information verification courses at Brusov State University of Armenia.
Tamar Kintsurashvili is an Executive Director of Media Development Foundation (MDF) and an Editor-in-chief of the fact-checking online portal Myth Detector, third-party partner of Facebook’s fact-checking program in Georgia, and a verified signature of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) of the Poynter Institute. Tamar is a member of Deutsche Welle Akademie Media and Information Literacy Experts Network (MILEN). As an associate professor at Ilia State University, Tamar teaches media ethics and propaganda research methods. She was the first elected general director of Georgian Public Broadcaster.
Teona Tomashvili is a co-founder and projects lead at ForSet — a socially-driven, creative enterprise specializing in data communications using design and technology. Teona is qualified in data gathering and analyzing for further formulation into interesting stories. She has vast experience in creating and implementing communications strategies at local and international events and building the communities around them.
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.