Thomas Loudon, CEO of the Dutch startup VJ Movement, is trying it. Here’s the idea for NewsGame, a Facebook game now in development: Players take on the role of foreign correspondents and face mini-challenges within the game world, such as “you have to cross the border into Iran” or “save child soliders in Somalia,” Loudon told me.
“You have to create your skills, your personality, you travel the virtual world as a journalist,” Loudon said. “You’re going to be cooperating or competing with other players you meet. You can decide to team up with a photographer, for example, and go together. Or you can ignore the photographer and say, ‘I’m going on my own,’ but you might not be as safe.”
Players encounter issues in the game world that are probably playing out in real life — a bombing in Pakistan, drug battles in Colombia — then pitch related stories to actual journalists, who populate the game with original reporting. Loudon says he is working with VJ Movement’s existing network of 300 journalists in more than 100 countries. Those journalists are paid €750 to produce a video report or €150 for an editorial cartoon. (The rates are being tweaked to reflect pay scales in different countries.)