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Posts Tagged ‘games’

10 ‘Budget Balancer’ Tools And Games From Newsrooms Worldwide

As legislative sessions start to kick off in states around the country, newsrooms will undoubtedly be looking for ways to cover various negotiations and budget crises. The idea of a “budget balancing” game is nothing new — lots of newsrooms have tried it — but many have taken their own conceptual approaches. Here are a few different examples:

1. New York Times – Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget

This approach lets users select multiple options (tax increases and spending cuts) then watch on a scale how much money those decisions make in the short-term and longterm. You can read more about the methodology on the Economix blog.

Best feature: See impacts on both the short-term and long-term 

2. LA Times — California Budget Balancer

The LA Times first lets you select a starting point based on how much you’d spend on public schools, and from there, you can granularly reduce or eliminate funding in other areas using a slider. As you make decisions, you watch the remaining deficit drop. Unlike the NYT approach, the LA Times lets the user have more control over the values inputted, rather than basing it off real-life proposals.

Best feature: When you’ve come to a proposal you’re happy with, you can see your breakdown for where money is allocated, then share it on social media.  Read more

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NY Times Redesigns Digital Crossword Puzzles

I’m a word person, but I’ve never been any good at crosswords. I’ve always thought my vocabulary was a hindrance, not so much that I don’t know the right word but that I know too many possible words that my brain can fill in the blank with two or three options and, even in pencil, that makes me afraid to commit to a potentially wrong answer. I’m more of a Sudoku gal, personally.

Nonetheless, I thought it was interesting to see that the New York Times — the de facto crossword king — has redesigned its digital crosswords games this week. It’s an interesting development because, while I’m all about the journalism, I like to see news agencies realize their mission isn’t just to inform but also to entertain. That’s why newspapers print things like movie reviews, comic strips and yes, crossword puzzles. I know several people who only (or in large part) pick up the newspaper for the puzzles or who save outdated editions for the day off someday when they’ll have time to work through them. (I hope they get some of the news while they’re there, though.) So it’s nice to see the Times devoting some of their IT power to improving the digital presentation and play of one of their most popular non-news features. Note: They do charge a few bucks a month for premium access to the daily puzzles, but do offer older puzzles from the archives for free.

Not only have they rolled out an HTML5 version of the crossword, but they’ve also coupled the new style with a very in-depth tutorial and explainer on the changes. They even have puzzle maestro Will Shortz on video explaining how he works and giving tips for Crossword beginners.

Among the changes the Times says they’ve made:

  • Clean and simplified layout
  • One entry point with various options on how to solve
  • Redesigned personalized scorecard
  • New bonus puzzles
  • Larger squares
  • Redesigned leaderboard statistics with top 10 puzzlers
  • Cleaner color scheme of blue, gray and white

The new game play is intuitive, and because it’s running on HTML5 it’s played right in browser without me needing any extra plug-ins or anything. Even on my older Mac, it worked seamlessly and swiftly. I might even be able to get into crosswords with a platform like this. Maybe.

Fun Finds From Around The Journosphere

It’s Wednesday, hump day. The week’s half-over or half-begun, depending on how optimistic you’re feeling today. Either way, it’s probably about time you had a little lunch-time diversion.

So today I present a feast of fun finds I’ve seen linked around the journosphere (and related areas) recently. Hopefully, you can find a few minutes to waste, err, peruse, them when you need a creative boost. There’s something for everyone, whether your “thing” is for words or photos or design. Have fun!

1.) Play the NYT “stupid game” and destroy their story page with the flash, keyboard-controlled triangle. The game is meant to play off the content of the piece, which is all about why we love to play stupidly addictive games, such as Angry Birds.

2.) What if Facebook was Invented in the ’90s? This is what it would look like.

3.) I Shot The Serif. (But I did not shoot the sans-serif.) This fun, fast-paced game tests your typography knowledge and how well you can pick your serifs from your sans-serif.

type_game

4.) If type isn’t your forte, how well do you know your way around the color wheel? This game, Color, gives players a limited amount of time to precisely pinpoint the given hue or saturation or the complimentary colors. It’s sort of maddening, but it’s also sort of addicting to see how precise you can be.

color_game

5.) Speaking of color… The color of “newspaper” is a lot prettier than I expected. This simple site allows you to search for a name, item or place — whatever really — and it compiles a composite image of recent Flickr photos with that phrase. The composite is a colorful image supposedly showing “the color of” that item. Generally, the colors don’t stray too far from each other (except for items very heavily favoring one color, say “blue” or “grass”), but it’s still sort of fun to see how different images/themes combine to affect the mood of the final image.