The news media is a strange thing. Their purpose, or so we’ve been told, it to provide the public with an unbiased summary of the day’s events. But as the years have gone on, agenda-based editorializing has seeped into nearly every news organization. An NBC News headline might read “Economy’s Job Engine Revved Up in July,” while Fox News might tell the same story as “Wrong-Way Growth: Jobless Jumps in July as New Hiring Remains Slow.”
And yes, these two headlines really happened.
The Westport Independent is a game that explores the nature of media bias, letting players shape the stories as they best see fit before going to print.
In the world of Westport, your influence as a newspaper editor is a very important thing. There’s a rebellion growing against the Loyalist government, and that government is about to shut your independent paper down. Do you adhere to their guidelines? Or will you showcase the acts of the rebellion?
These won’t just be questions for you to answer, either. You’ll have a staff of journalists working under you, each with their own opinions, fears, and biases.
The game was originally designed as part of the Ludum Dare 29 game jam, where the theme was “Beneath the Surface.” The game jam version is still playable online at the developer’s website, and well worth a look.
Since that time, the development team at Double Zero One Zero have been working on fleshing the experience out. They’re creating a system where your choices influence the actions of the people in Westport, which in turn will affect the stories you write.
While the official website only mentions this as heading to desktops, their indieDB page mentions Android, and 148apps had a chance to check it out at GDC this year where they confirmed it would be coming to iPad (and “probably” iPhone).
No word on when you can expect The Westport Independent, but we’ll be sure to let you know when this one goes to the printing press.