N.Y. Times' Kristof Creates Facebook Game With Purpose

By Jennifer Moire Comment

In a real-life blending of new and traditional media, The New York Times‘ globe-trotting columnist Nicholas Kristof is working on a Facebook game to draw attention to the human rights issues he covers in his column.

The game, which Kristof describes in a Fast Company interview as reminiscent of Zynga’s FarmVille, is being developed by Games for Change in conjunction with a television documentary based on his book, Half the Sky.

Kristof is recognized as one of the first print reporters to fully embrace social media, having an active Twitter account and Facebook page to highlight and research the humanitarian issues he writes about twice a week in the newspaper.

He has more than 313,000 subscribers on Facebook, and regularly solicits feedback or ideas for future columns via his page.

In the interview with Fast Company, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist describes the game’s premise:

“You’ll have a village, and in order to nurture this village, you’ll have to look after the women and girls in the village. Actions in the game will also have real-world effects. In other words, there will be schools and refugee camps that will benefit if you do well in the game.”

Kristof adds that gaming is a trend that news organizations — and causes — should consider as a means of building an audience for content.

Recent studies on social gaming would suggest that Kristof will find a receptive audience for his Facebook game, which is due out later this year. A report from Single Grain suggests that 68.7 million Americans are playing social games and 55 percent of them are women.