I decided to pick the game Fake it to Make it. First, you’re greeted with some upbeat, casual music. You’re not really given any context to what the game is about. You just pick one of four characters who you want to “guide” you through the game. I ended up picking the first girl. Each character looks different, with one being white and the rest of them being people of color. Since I don’t have any context of what the game is about, I’m assuming that the characters’ looks must have something to do with the game. Then, you enter your first name. You then are directed to a “what do you want to purchase” section. You’re given a hint that it’s easier to meet a smaller financial goal and that you can (should) try to buy the apartment or car (bigger purchases) later. Because of this tip, I decided to buy the music equipment for my band, which was $200, compared to the $400 for the first apartment and the $1000 for the car.
Then you begin the game and try to make money to reach your goal. The way you make money is by creating news sites. Whenever people click on ads on your site, you make money. Basically, as long as you get enough traffic on your site, then you’ll be fine and will continue to make profit. You’re then given some context into what kinds of advertisements you provide. The ads are targeted at Americans because you get more money from Americans clicking on the ads than when people from other countries click on the ads. This is about fake news and therefore, the news doesn’t have to be particularly true. This is because fake news “takes less time to create” and “spreads better” than real news does since you don’t have to deal with fact checking and what not. This also makes sense because with fake news, you can be as dramatic as you want.
The first thing you have to do is create your site and make sure that it has a credibility rating of at least 30. You can enter a site name or you can generate a random site name. I picked the random name generator, so my website is now called QED Weekly. You then pick a logo, a domain, a theme, a monetization, and then you review and submit it. I decided to add a custom domain and hosting because I think it adds a lot of credibility (+20) and honestly, $10 per year and $10 per month isn’t too bad. I picked the OnlineVoice theme which added a +10 credibility for $20. After this, I had $10 remaining and a score of 30 out of 100 for credibility.
Next, you have to add articles. The advice given is to “copy from other sites” which I found interesting, since that is a perfect example of how fake news circulates. One article will pop up with a very minimal amount of truth attached to it, and then other fake news sites will take that article and change it just enough to be counted as a different article, and then the article continues to circulate within the media. The articles all have a believability score as well as a drama score. Obviously, I tried to find an article with both high believability (so people wouldn’t think it was fake news) as well as high drama (so people would share it). I decided to pick one with a believability score of 15/20 and a drama score of 16/20. I then picked one with a believability score of 15/20 and a drama score of 15/20. You then have to plant this article to make sure it has at least 100 shares. After picking the articles, you pick a user based on the political affiliation of the article and then a group to start sharing the article in. Once you plant the article, you can see how the article is doing in terms of being shared. If the post is doing well, you see the number of shares and views continuously increasing and you also see comments from some of the viewers. For me, this article ended up doing pretty well which means I picked a good article and also put that article in the right group. The people seeing the article were “angered” and “disgusted.”
The next goal was to plant an article that triggers happiness. I picked an article about cute children’s quotes which had a believability of 15/20 and a drama score of 10/20. At first, I picked the same political guy and put it in a group that was about cute animals, despite that my article was about children’s quotes. The article didn’t do well and no one paid attention to it. I then created a user and made her join popular groups specifically about parenting, and the article did much better when it circulated through those groups. The next goal was to inspire fear in people, so I made sure to pick an article about how there’s something we do that damages our health “every day.”
Then, I had to write my own article and make sure it had a drama score of 20. You pick one topic out of the ones given to you. You don’t actually write the article, but rather pick different elements that either add to the drama or the believability of the article. Then, you again have to assign the article to a user who belongs to a certain group. The article was believed by some, but then there were some people who made the comment “how stupid do they think we are?” Nonetheless, as long as the article continues to be circulated, I did my job correctly.
Basically, there were many goals given to you to help you reach the main goal of having a credibility score of 100 and also making however much money you intended to make. Sometimes you’re asked to write and plant an article that triggers certain emotions, such as fear, happiness, sadness, etc. Other times, you’re asked to write more specific things such as writing about how taxpayer money is being wasted by the current president. One obstacle I encountered while playing the game was running out of money. Sometimes I would forget that the longer I took to write an article, the more expensive it would be because I still had to pay to run the website. Because of this, I ran out of money a few times and had to be bailed out by the character guide I chose. The game also gave me some different insight into making money off of these advertisements. Even when my article was doing well, I was barely making any money off of it. Any time one of my articles didn’t do well, I lost so much money that I would again have to be bailed out by my guide. By the time I was finished playing the game, I was nowhere near reaching my monetary goal and was just very indebted to my guide.
I found this game to be quite interesting as a whole. Firstly, I found this game to be especially relevant right now. There are so many people who claim that fake news sincerely affected the results of America’s presidential election. Fake news has never been more influential and more talked about than it is right now. Playing this game and actually creating the fake news was both entertaining and interesting for me. It was strange to actually think that the two main components are believability and drama, because sometimes, you could post a really ridiculous article (low believability) but it will still do fairly well if it has a high drama score. This is because apparently, no matter how ridiculous an article might seem to you, there will always be at least some people who believe it, and even more people who will share it. All it takes for fake news to spread is people talking about it and clicking a simple button on facebook or whatever other social media the news is spread on. This changed my perspective of fake news by making me understand what actually goes into these websites. This game made me feel like the people making the news are specifically making it so that they can make money –not because they are trying to spew made up facts to confuse people. Truthfully, it made me hate fake news more than I did before, but I also thought of it humorously because it showed people believing the most unbelievable of articles.