HeartSaver: Experimenting with New Games to Tell a Story
This past weekend, a team from ProPublica competed in the GEN Editors’ Lab New York hack day, with the theme “Newsgaming.” We learned how to use game mechanics to create an interactive experience that went beyond badges and reputation systems to explore a complex accountability story in fun and engaging way. Seriously, our game is really fun.
Here’s what we learned (and produced!) in two days.
The game, HeartSaver, aims to help players explore access to good emergency care in New York City, where nearly half a million people suffer from heart disease. We wondered: does everyone have access to high-quality care? What happens if I have a heart attack at work? At home? We invited players to explore this question by challenging them a mission: Save as many heart attack victims as possible.
A player’s score depends on how quickly they can get heart attack victims to the best available hospital. For victims, survival often hinges on how quickly they can get to the emergency room, with odds decreasing 7-10 percent every minute before defibrillation, according to the American Heart Association. And on arrival, quality of care plays an important part. We turned these factors into variables in the game. Players can explore how access to good emergency care works. The faster a player routes victims to quality care, the more lives they save. The more lives they save, the higher their score. How many lives do you think you could save? Play the game and find out.
News Games Tell a Story
While playing the game, players are telling themselves the story we want them to tell. It becomes clear very quickly which areas have fewer hospitals with emergency departments. Read the complete ProPublica.org Nerd Blog post.