The United States has the biggest media source of all time. Also because we are such a polarizing entity of a large melting pot rather than a homogenous whole, it is obvious that many opinions will differ. Many seek to capitalize on the difference. Fake It To Make It (2017) by Amanda Warner is a great example of how effective articles on social media are in interfering with finding truths in politics and the modern day news.
The game itself is online and is a super simplified simulation of creating fake news websites to spread misinformation. You are given many customization choices ranging from avatar, materialistic goal, logo, title of website, and more. The overarching goal is that you are making a fake news website with lots of articles and utilizing people of ranging backgrounds to share them. Each article can be marked by political parties or by “neutral” which means that it has nothing to do with the party. The people you choose to share these articles have two prominent features: believability and drama. These are important qualities for you to reach your money goal that is shown in the top right hand corner. However, hashtags and adwords can also contribute to the article’s growth. Tips and goals in the right hand side of the “homepage” of your fake news website leads you in the right direction of earning money while sharing articles. The appeal of having to reach a monetary and materialistic goal as a whole and having small incentivizing goals on the side only compelled me to keep playing the game until there were no more goals to fulfill. The website does not follow real time however it does pass relatively quickly. All the statistics of your website are shown in the top left hand corner along with the details. The homepage itself looks very much like any other website’s homepage which makes it very realistic despite being a simulation. Because this blurs the reality of being a false content creator and a gamer, I can see how the game can transcend the micro level involvement into a macro involvement in terms of affective involvement.
The presence of feedback when sharing an article also mimics real life commentary on news. Some will write, “That’s horrible!” “Who would do that?!” to “Great!” which is something we scroll through daily when browsing social media apps like Facebook. Many of the reactions are symbolic of how people respond emotionally towards clickbait articles. Moreover by using relevant tags and having a person who is of that political party or institution share the article further shuts people within their biases. Technically, they are also stuck in the online filter bubble in that they only see articles that they want to see, further polarizing political parties and other controversial topics.
The simulation made it that much easier to spread fake news which is exactly what the game alludes to. People are easy to believe articles online because it’s readily accessible and convenient. It’s much less work than walking out to the nearby coffeeshop or minimart to buy a physical copy of The New York Times. A simple click will do. Additionally, when a person is biased towards a political party, they are more likely to read about their own party than the opposing’s because it will generate feelings of pleasure. Therefore, true or not, fake news will always reign popular within their respective parties. The articles are nothing more than alternative facts yet people will believe what they want to believe and won’t accept criticisms. The public will be misinformed of what is really occurring in modern day news. I believe that people are also sharing articles for the sake of generating emotions rather than truth. People want to make a dichotomy between parties and they want more people on their side than the enemy’s. Though this may have not been the intention of the creators as in the Macedonian teenagers’ case, it has a significant impact on political parties especially in the U.S.
It also doesn’t help that Donald Trump constantly spreads disinformation everywhere. Many fact-checking websites (such as snopes.com) constantly refute Donald Trump’s statements but these crucial pieces of information are hidden under the numerous fake news. A lesson to learn from this game is to take everything with a grain of salt or to take some time out of your day to research more about a topic before sharing a post on social media. Fake It To Make It therefore is easily an educational game that is highly persuasive.
The game uses procedural rhetoric in the sense that it pulls the gamer into understanding the concept of fake news and the incentive of money that comes with it. Warner shows that even if the creator did not intend to divide people, little actions like creating a fake news website can easily wreck havoc everywhere. The audience must take caution in reading articles that come across their newsfeed. I believe the best step to take is to educate yourself in your own views but also the opposing party’s. Also, to continue checking multiple websites and escaping the filter bubble to widen one’s perspective. It would be great to find the original source of the published facts but that isn’t always the case. If people have time, I would suggest going out to buy the local newspaper or even watch a few broadcasts from popular news stations and not relying solely on the internet.
To be completely honest, when Donald Trump became president in 2016, I was quite shocked. I didn’t think that people believed the news that were posted about him but maybe they had ignored it out of bias. But I also realized that was because I was reading fake news too- fake news about Donald Trump not in the lead or not catching up to Hillary Clinton. I have yet a lot to learn about being careful with reading online articles, but this game was very effective in reminding us that anything can be made into alternative facts and it is up to us to discover what is real and what isn’t.
Warner 2017, Fake It To Make It, video game, PC games, Amanda Warner.