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Crossing Divides

An interactive news game to give BBC audiences new skills for navigating polarised conversations.

Hypothesis

How can we give BBC audiences new skills for navigating polarised conversations?

The BBC World Service’s Crossing Divides was a “solutions journalism” series that showcased how individuals and communities are working to bridge social divisions. To coincide with the season of content, News Labs was asked to build an experimental new format to help audiences gain skills to navigate difficult conversations.

The Crossing Divides news game is designed as an interactive comic book, asking players to carry out a conversation with a character who has a very different opinion on a controversial topic from the current news cycle. The choices players make effect how their conversational partner responds. At the end of the game, players receive feedback on their choices, which was written to reflect guidance from the US-based nonprofit, Better Angels.

News Labs collaborated with World Service journalists and freelance illustrators while developing the game's design and building the web application using the Javascript framework, React JS. The team also built a lightweight CMS so that journalists and translators can update the content across multiple languages.

After initially launching with three stories, the prototype was expanded to include a special 'Brexit' edition. The original series was translated into six languages.

Related Links

Results

  • The initial prototype was shortlisted for the International Broadcasting Association's News Innovation award.
  • After its launch in spring 2018, the game was expanded at the request of World Service editors to include a special 'Brexit edition' in 2019.

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