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Journalism school nets $250k grant to train leaders in game design

Journalism school nets $250k grant to train leaders in game design

October 9, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

The American University School of Communication seems to think putting journalists with game design chops in charge of newsrooms might be a good idea.

To find out, it's using a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to launch a program that aims to train journalists in applying game design to the challenges of leading a media organization.

"Effective game designers excel at weaving together a compelling mix of context, goals, challenges and rewards that encourages players ongoing involvement," wrote American University School of Communication dean Jeffrey Rutenbeck in a blog post about the program. "What can journalism learn from the way they think?"

While the journalistic process is regularly practiced within the game industry, it's still rare to see the tenets of game design adapted to the business of running a mainstream media company.

The grant money will be used to fund a "Journalism Leadership Transformation" pilot program with six fellowship positions -- three for working journalists, and three for journalism students.

The six selected fellows will enroll in the university's Game Design master's degree program, work in the university's game lab and help organize two summits in Washington D.C. to explore topics like the role of "news games" and systems design in contemporary media.

While this new program focuses specifically on training fellows for leadership roles in media, it's worth noting that the American University already runs a program to familiarize journalists with the thought processes of game makers.

Known as the Game Design and Persuasive Play Initiative, it's a joint effort between the university's School of Communication and its College of Arts and Sciences that was launched earlier this year with the goal of training communications students to apply design principles in their work at contemporary media organizations.

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