Fake It To Make It

Fake It To Make It is a game designed and developed by Amanda Warner with the intention of educating people about fake news. In Fake It To Make It the player sets a goal of earning money for a car or an instrument by creating a fake news outlet. The game walks you through the process of developing a news outlet and maintaining and increasing credibility, including how to copy and write articles with clickbait headlines that will appeal to various groups and how to make a piece go viral by matching it with a trending topic and exploiting certain events. You have a guide that gives you tips such as “Lots of people are scared of ‘certain people’! Go to Copy Articles. Find an article with the topic ‘Certain People Are Dangerous’ and copy it on your site. Then, share the article to a politically-aligned group” (Warner). Through the game, players learn how to manipulate emotion through rhetoric and how people are readily available to believe and react to something that matches their views.

The game is formatted from the business side of fake news, which is something most people do not experience or even think about despite our daily interactions with fake news outlets. The format is effective in achieving its goal of educating people on fake news outlets because of how simple it is. Even though the process is more complicated and time consuming in real life, all the information on the game is out there on the Internet for someone to use. The game indicates how this can be an easy way to make money, especially with the manipulation of people’s emotions through politically charged articles. The game goes through a series of minigoals, inviting you to post an article that will result in happiness or disgust. The player can see the payoff from posting articles that play on these emotions in groups that will strongly resonate with them, as articles that trigger strong emotions will result in a bigger pay off. The structure of the game is beneficial to its purpose. It is a very easy to understand, as there is someone walking you through each step and the game itself is logically formatted. Thus, this increases the game’s reach as it can be played by a lot of people, which allows it to educate more people. Furthermore, the minigoals keep the player engaged and willing to play on, as well as the larger goal marking a clear win.

As the editor of a fake news outlet, you can choose topics of news that would appeal to either the Orange or the Purple parties. From then on, you can choose to add drama, such as “Insult the mainstream media”, and believability, such as “include fake specific details”. You can take this to another level by adding Orange Party Drama or Purple Party Drama, which contain mostly the same tags, “Portray certain people as victims” and “Appeal to patriotism”. When you post an article to a politically oriented group, people from both parties will lament “How stupid do they think we are?” and “How can people act like this?” By using fictional political parties with no clear ideologies, it makes this game that involves politics nonpartisan. It also shows how people clearly aligned with a certain party are quick to believe news that is marketed towards them, as it matches what they think of the world, their country, and the opposite party. It was interesting to imagine how just as I see fake news articles shared amongst my circle that reflect my political beliefs, the same happens with the opposite party. America’s political climate is already very heightened, and the addition of fake news and people thinking they have the facts due to this spread of fake news is making the environment more polarizing. There is a tendency to believe that those of an opposite party are vastly different from you, but this game indicates that there are various things that people from both parties fear and get angry about, and how fake news outlets know how to manipulate these emotions. Fake It To Make It does not ignore the consequences of spreading fake news, as you receive notifications of events that happen as a result of your articles. For example, I was prompted to post an article about a Somali immigrant assaulting a waitress with a believability score of 11/20 and a drama score of 19/20. It was my most popular article and earned $256.53 with 20,719 shares. However, a couple “weeks” later I received a notification that public opinion towards Somali people have dropped 8%. The game is a prime example of Calleja’s Player Involvement Model, from In Game: From Immersion to Incorporation. Players interact with the game from the macro level, as the lessons learned from Fake It To Make It carry out into the real world and affect how the player will from now on interact with information they see online. Players are also affected in the pre-game experience as the game is most effective with prior knowledge of how people, and perhaps the player themself, interact with news on social media. The player experiences mico-involvement in the game as the game requires great attention and interactivity. The micro experience is enhanced by the procedural rhetoric Fake It To Make It practices. According to Bogost in Persuasive Games, “Procedural rhetorics afford a new and promising way to make claims about how things work” (Bogost). The game forces you to assume the role as the creator and editor of a fake news outlet, and though you are removed from the game, you see the consequences of your actions with the appearance of the “real time” notifications. These notifications can come as a surprise, because when you are focusing on your website and maximizing your income, you do not realize the real-world implications. Thus the game details how harmful fake news actually is and the impact it can make on society. It is also interesting because until the appearance of these notifications, the player is just interacting with the Dashboard for their website website, seeing everything in terms of numbers. At that point, the current lessons the player takes away is how shockingly easy it is to profit from the manipulation of news. The notifications add an additional lesson as they bring the player back to the real world. Furthermore, Bogost claims that “vivid information…seems to be more persuasive than non-vivid information” (Bogost). More vivid games are more interactive, which allows for the message of the game to be more effectively transmitted to its users.

Overall, the game is effective in transmitting its goal of educating its players about fact checking and fake news. The game evidences that fake news is very easy to create, and the business is more profitable as the news gets more dramatic but keeping in mind believability. Through interacting with the game, the player learns that it is not difficult to manipulate emotions and appealing to a politically affiliated group with articles that make sense in their view of the world creates a lot of views and shares, and in turn a larger profit.

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