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Pros: Multiple endings encourage experimentation. The dashboard offers an immersive experience.
Cons: Features could be more intuitive; they require patience to learn. Elements of the game can feel disjointed.
Bottom Line: This realistic-feeling strategy game is a compelling way to see false narratives get created.
How Can I Teach with This Tool?
In Influence, Inc., students manage a mock digital influence agency by promoting and marketing products and celebrities; they also impact elections. As students unlock the game's full set of features, they research, share, leak, and target information to maximize their company's influence over time.
Using it as a reflective exercise, teachers can prompt students to consider critical questions about how media shapes reality through news and journalism and how people's attention and decisions can shift. The game can last anywhere from a half-hour to three hours and can be played several times with different marketing strategies. While the length of the game lends itself to at-home play rather than classroom instruction, it can be started in the classroom and students can continue alternative strategies at home. Because it's in a choose-your-own-adventure style, students can compare their strategies for different games and assess the results of the influence they had throughout the game.
At the start, it can be a challenge to understand the purpose of each feature. However, there's a tutorial on hand at any point in the game, and gameplay becomes clearer as you continue with each mission. There are also achievements to unlock along the way, and the real-world feel of each of the components makes it an immersive experience. The focus of the game is strategy and not business or finance, so it's probably most fitting for a media literacy or news-related classroom.