Fighting against Fake News Using the Card Game "Follow Me”
Keywords:critical thinking, educational games, fake news, infodemic, social media
The increasing presence of fake news in the media, especially on social media poses significant damage to our society. Disinformation undermines the credibility of conventional media and the authority of government officials, contributing to the destabilization of democratic systems. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated these processes; people have been forced to function intensively in the online space, with a related increase in the time spent on social networking sites. At the same time, the so-called infodemic has been unleashed. The amount of fake news – especially dubious information related to the coronavirus – has increased significantly. The most effective protection against fake news is continuous education and the development of critical thinking. Traditional educational approaches are not always sufficient and fail to adapt quickly enough to the dynamic development of technology and society. Educational games can effectively reach young audiences, and therefore they are coming to the fore. These educational games include the card game Follow Me, which focuses on introducing the dynamics of social media. The target audience of the game is primarily secondary school students, and it has been developed with an emphasis on effective use within the high school educational process. In the game, players take on the role of social media users in order to gain as many followers as possible, while trying to maintain their credibility and detect fake news published by other players. The game features articles covering four different domains (health, science, geopolitics, and society), and due to this diversity, topics from different domains inevitably emerge during gameplay. The game was published by the Slovak game development studio Impact Games and is currently available in print in Slovak language, with English, Croatian and Slovenian translations already available online. The aim of this paper is to introduce the game Follow Me and analyse its game mechanics, mainly focusing on the educational elements. The main contribution of the study is a deeper understanding of game mechanics that can develop critical thinking and an estimation of their effectiveness in educating players about the safe use of social media.