Pressing Matters is intended to teach players about the importance of media literacy through play. During gameplay, players must take on either the role of a Citizen or a Journalist. This is a turn-based game, in which all but one player are Journalists. As a journalist, the players must write convincing headlines based on the an issue the town is discussing. As the Citizen, the player wants to make a decision based on what the publications publish in order to further their own agenda. As the Journalists, each player must convince the Citizen to vote in their own favor, while furthering the Journalists own agenda.
To situate the players, we decided to situate the players in a make believe town called Town. In the town of Town, the citizens make decisions about particular situations based on what the newspapers publish. In this prototype, we used to used illustrations to symbolize different events.
In the second prototype, we decided to take away the symbols, and replace them with numbers. Each number on the event cards correspond to a page number within each players' fact booklet. This decision was made to simplify the game, and to allow Journalists to find facts for each event easier
We made the fact booklets vertical because we thought this would be symbolic of traditional journalist notepads. Each booklet is attached to a publication. Each publication has its own agenda. The top page goes the player how many points they will score based on whether the citizen votes "YEA" or "NAY" on the event. On the bottom page, the booklet lists the facts that corresponds to the event that they are playing. Each journalist must write a headline for the event they are playing. They can choose to use to use the facts or ignore them.
For each turn, each player must take on the role of a citizen. Each citizen has a set of agendas of their own. On the event cards, Citizens can see how many points they will scored based on the which way they point. Their goal is to use the headlines they are given and to vote in a way that they think will score them the most points.
Based on the results of the playtests we have conducted, we made changes to the design of the game set as well as some of the rules.
Our results showed that people were having a hard time remembering their publications and their agendas. To resolve this, we color coded each of the agendas. As the players go through the booklet, they are able to keep track of how they will score based on the vote. Additionally, each fact is shown with an agenda icon. This is to communicate to the players what each fact is connected to what agenda. These changes helped players keep track of their agendas as they progressed in the game without having to refer back to their publication page each round. Labeling each fact also helped players to better decided which fact will best help swing the vote in their favor.
Lastly, we made changes to the design of the "Event" and "Citizen" cards. The back of the "Event" cards to match the information booklets helped players better understand that these two elements are the same, and that they should be using their booklets to swing votes in their favor. For the "Citizen" cards, we gave each character a persona. Many players felt that they were having a hard time playing in the mindset of another character. By building a backstory, we hoped that this will help players to vote from the Citizen's perspective rather than their own.