Can Video Games Reinvent the Editorial Cartoon?

(Danziger).jpgThat’s the concept behind The Cartoonist, one of twelve innovative media projects that have been named the 2010 winners of the Knight News Challenge. Dreamed up by video game designer, critic, and researcher Ian Bogost (Georgia Institute of Technology) and fellow game design guru Michael Mateas (University of California Santa Cruz), the project would enable budget-strapped media outlets to produce their own current event-themed video games—an interactive spin on editorial cartoons that could also help to differentiate a publication’s print and online versions. “The editorial cartoon has been a casualty of newspaper cuts, especially in local news,” says Bogost in his video summary of the project. The trend has been detrimental on many levels, because “The cartoon serves as a familiar and appealing entry point to the news.” Bogost and Mateas will use their $378,000 Knight Foundation grant to develop the free tool, which will automatically propose game rules and images based on input concerning the major actors in a news event (e.g., oil company, busted oil well, ocean, wisecracking band of superheroic eels). We suggest a splashy meta-demo to get media folks on board with the concept: anyone for a disturbingly short version of Paperboy?