Strange love: alternate reality game marries newspaper

PtIBased on an assumption that young urban professionals prefer games to news, a local paper in upstate New York has joined forces with local techies and launched a city-wide game to spark newspaper readership and better understand social media.

Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle and the Rochester Institute of Technology have created an interactive alternate reality game — called “Picture the Impossible” — that will have three teams competing “across the newspaper’s platforms, from crossword puzzles in the print paper, to scavenger hunts, to online games,” the Nieman Journalism Lab reports today. Apparently, the game’s purpose is to “mobilize” people under 40 so the newspaper can better learn how to appeal to them.

Said Tracy Bauer — the Democrat and Chronicle’s managing editor for content and digital platforms — in a conversation with the Neiman Lab:

If this works as a way to engage an audience, then it becomes more than a game, it becomes a new set of tools that we can use for daily journalism, and, most important, for First Amendment work.

And though virtually collaborating isn’t exactly the same thing as reading a paper together, this marriage has the potential to create a similar community of ideas. Even if the paper probably won’t be able to get its now game-absorbed “audience” to read its articles.

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