Science Cafe

Future of media lies in gaming, OU prof says


By Chase Pritchard

Future news media will be a much more interactive experience than the monologues of the past, said the director and general manager of WOUB Public Media at his Science Café lecture on March 27.

“We want news when we want it, where we want it, how we want it, and we don’t want it to be static,” said Professor Tom Hodson, summing up the media climate today. Revenue is declining in traditional media because of the social media revolution that created sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Media companies are trying to figure out how to communicate to consumers  to a whole new generation.

Because of this, to Hodson, television will soon no longer be the primary news provider. It will evolve into an extension already taken for granted: gaming.

“If you look at (your) younger siblings, do they watch or consume news in any way?” Hodson asked. “They exchange info all the time, and that’s news, but it’s different than what news was defined as before. What does this younger generation do more than anything? GAMING. Absolutely gaming.”

People spend 3 billion hours a week on online games, both for communication with others or for collecting personal rewards. While playing a game, he said, gamers can experience what they can’t in real life. “Why do people play Madden NFL football?” Hodson asked. “In part because they will never be an NFL quarterback. They play the game to experience feeling like an NFL quarterback.”

With gaming technologies, Hodson predicted, news will eventually be experienced, not just learned, so the consumer can have an active involvement in their programming. With commercialized holographic television coming onto the technological horizon in 2017, he said, “You could put somebody virtually in Katrina, in Sandy, or on patrol in Afghanistan.”

How can this generation reach into all this potential? To Hodson, it involves learning  how to tell a good story. “How do we prepare students for a future we don’t know?” he asked. “Go back to the basics and teach everyone what a good story is. How do you source that story accurately? How do you do it ethically without invading people’s privacy?”

With adaptation, creative thinking, being mentally sharp and having an array of tools in for any situation, Hodson said, the future will not look so grim for many.

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