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Developing Resilience to Disinformation: A Game-Based Method for Future Communicators

Department of Communication and Foreign Languages, Politehnica University Timișoara, 300006 Timișoara, Romania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5438;
Received: 22 March 2022 / Revised: 28 April 2022 / Accepted: 29 April 2022 / Published: 30 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Education and Social Networks)


This paper analyzes the outcomes of a game-based educational process aiming to strengthen resilience to fake news. An innovative approach that considers linguistic choices as bases for manipulating information is used in an online classroom environment, students in communication being invited to understand, explain and reflect upon framing and information credibility, using as a topic of inquiry the refugee crisis of 2021 in Romania. Cognitive learning outcomes as well as learning dynamics were assessed using pre- and end-of game surveys. The results of the game are discussed in relation with the instructional goal to facilitate the understanding of communicative social actions, learning about disinformation that is deliberately misleading, as well as finding ways to break the disinformation code. The debriefing discussions after each stage of the game encouraged students to reflect upon their newly gained insights and increase their critical thinking capacity, in the effort to ensure a sustainable education in communication studies. The paper has the potential to enrich the educational strategies with innovative methods helping future professionals navigate the complex world of media messages.

1. Introduction

Students are heavy users of social networks, and active and significant participants to the digital public sphere, as a place of information, contestation, organization, discussion and political, social, educational and ethical struggle. They are also the most vulnerable target categories to disinformation and propaganda since they have not fully formed critical thinking skills and are prone to confusion and gullibility. A sustainable education equips them with critical skillsets that allow swift identification of fake news, disinformation and propaganda. In a turbulent informational ecosystem and in a participatory media culture, news literacy becomes a pivotal skill.

1.1. Background and Importance

Disinformation and false information, often referred to as fake news do not constitute a novel phenomenon. Media literacy initiatives to enable the general public to critically evaluate media messages formally date back to UNESCO’s declaration of 1982, known as the Grünwald Declaration on Media Education [1]. Ever since, a variety of international organizations, universities and media outlets called for the necessity to raise people’s capacity to access, understand and critically evaluate media via reducing the deficit in media literacy across the world, either in formal educational programs or in an informal context. The diversification of media, the advent of digital extensions of communication, the multiplication of platforms that carry information led to the necessity of developing new tools to foster independent critical thinking and build resilience against false information, as underlined by UNESCO in the 2020 Seoul Declaration on Media and Information Literacy for Everyone and by Everyone. It bluntly states that “media and information literacy (MIL) is a core competency for addressing the disinfodemic” [2]. While the term “media literacy” means different things for different countries and stakeholders, as recognized by the specially created expert group of the European Commission [3], it is an evolving concept that aims to develop the critical thinking of the users of media, be it traditional, digital, social—or whatever new form it may take in the future. To fight the spread of fake news, a variety of strategies have been developed, from fact-checking procedures and networks to software apps or moderation tools [4].
In the context of the health crisis of 2020–2021, the interest towards combating disinformation and fake news grew exponentially, bringing new topics and tools for deception detection to the fore. The World Health Organization warned that the infodemic, understood as a significant increase in the volume of information associated with a specific topic and whose growth can occur exponentially in a brief period of time due to a specific incident, spreads farther and faster just like the health-affecting pandemic [5]. In a country like Romania, where the interest towards the MIL topic is uneven, with mild initiatives to educate the public, critically analyze media messages and detect fake news, in 2020 the Civic Labs program from the Code for Romania in partnership with the Authority for Romania’s digitalization created browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, to help users fight pandemic-related disinformation [6]. However, resilience against disinformation is not systematically dealt with on a large scale. And while the pandemic dominated media content throughout 2020 and 2021 [7], other socially relevant events happened and needed proper interpretation, such as electoral processes or the flow of refugees in Europe. Against this background, the research team for the present study worked on building the capacity of future professional communicators to identify and dismantle fake news related to the refugee crisis, independent of the pandemic topic, in a university city of Romania. The task was complicated by the fact that the research was conducted during emergency remote learning in higher education imposed by pandemic-related measures, a period marked by students’ fatigue with Zoom-facilitated classes, anxiety, work overload and loss of the feeling of the community of learning [8]. Thus, the educators aiming to develop media literacy skills in students, appealed to innovative pedagogical strategies in the form of game-based learning to assist future professional communicators—students in communication sciences—strengthen resilience against disinformation, develop deception detection skills and enrich their learning experiences with role-playing in a serious game environment.

1.2. Study Aims

Educating future communication specialists is challenging because it is a complex issue, rooted in multidisciplinary knowledge and for an ongoing changing social environment. The repertoire of skills and abilities is expanding at a high rate. Employers propose new tasks and responsibilities for their communication experts, ranging from media relations to social media management and from content production to developing relations with a variety of stakeholders, via multiple platforms. The core of the profession remains, however, the mastering of media literacy at an expert level, above the general skill listed by the European Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning [9] (p. 23). The primary objective of this article was to analyze data collected during the fall semester of 2021 and verify whether students in communication studies perceive value in serious game playing as a pathway towards stronger resilience to disinformation. Another important objective was to test the serious game method to ensure a sustainable education of future communicators.

2. Literature Review

2.1. Research on Fake News and Media Literacy

Fake news is not a new phenomenon, but it has gained interest in the last several years, due to the magnitude, the multimodality and the multiplicity of its manifestations and consequences in the digital post-truth era. Because the term fake news itself is problematic and open to abuse, other different concepts have been proposed for describing the phenomenon: disinformation, information manipulation, information disorder, information influence, etc. There is a distinction concerning fake news types [10] among false information without the intention of causing harm (mis-information), false information with the intention of causing harm (dis-information) and real information with the intention of causing harm (mal-information). Fake news can be considered a form of disinformation, comprising, cumulatively false or misleading information and the intention of causing harm to individuals, social groups, organizations or countries.
Fake news is created and disseminated with increasing speed, expertise and effectiveness in the digital context [11], thus being more difficult to detect and resist. The fake news exploits the gullibility of media users, who frequently are not only biased, but also irrational and lazy. Framing (selecting some aspects of a perceived reality and making them more salient) is a particularly effective discursive device of fake news, because it is hardly discernible. It is difficult to differentiate on digital and social media among true, misleading, or false content. One important way of addressing this problem is media literacy, which equips individuals with powerful tools and strategies of resilience and resistance to fake news [12]. Media literacy creates and develops an adaptable and critical toolkit for detection of the fake news and protection from the harm they may cause [13].
Media literacy comprises a set of critical skills and competencies, which enable users to find, analyze, evaluate and interpret various forms of media messages [14]. The main media literacy skills are: analysis, evaluation, grouping, induction, deduction, synthesis and abstracting [15]. Media literacy stimulates the understanding of the methods of message construction and framing, of the different types of media genres, of the various ways of experiencing the messages, of the embedded values and perspectives in media messages, and of the purposes of media producers, whether profit, power or some other aim. Media literacies (digital, visual, textual, aural) promote critical thinking applied to messages and awareness of the media processes and impacts. One important component of media literacy is news literacy [16]. News literacy is the ability to analyze and critically assess news, from the sources of information to the final form with which news stories are presented. It enables users to evaluate the credibility of information and to examine the structure of that information. Young people’s lack of interest in news and their disconnection from politics increases their vulnerability to fake news. As the fake news repertoires are ever-increasing, so are the counteracting techniques [16].
Media literacy education (MLE) can be construed as a sustainable remedy to the contemporary disruptive media content, which provides users of all ages (especially college students) with lifelong critical tools for analyzing and assessing information and images [17]. Sustainability is a multidimensional concept, which can be understood or framed differently across the various higher education disciplines. Sustainable education provides enduring solutions by academic participation concerning societal and environmental issues. Sustainable teaching guides individuals, through aligned efforts and connected interventions, to be able to acquire new skills and adapt continuously during their lives [18]. In the media studies field, this diversity of focus involving sustainable education upholds complex cultural practices and forms of knowledge [19]. The principles of sustainability, as empowerment action tools, have permeated the media education on different levels, but the research in this area is rather scarce. Sustainable education in a mediated world is a crucial aspect in the development of savvy, informed and engaged citizens as consumers of multimodal media messages [20]. The habit of critical interrogation of media messages can be formed via sustainable education methods. Media coverage and filtering of different issues is a major factor in framing and responding to them as risks, threats or crises [21]. Sustainable media education expands the ability of individuals to interpret and construct dynamic representations of the real-world processes and to access and evaluate information across multiple media platforms and engage actively and critically in a turbulent media environment [22].

2.2. Game-Based Learning

Game-based learning gained momentum due to Johan Huizinga’s “Homo Ludens” [23], which brought to public attention the fact that adults picking up narrations, game metaphors and game elements succeed to better understand culture and society, understand complex issues and deal with uncertainty or conflict. Another line goes outside gaming and playfulness, into Erving Goffman’s theory that each social interaction remains, in and of itself, a type of performance, each person enacting a prescribed role on the stage of social expectation, shifting one’s sense of identity as demanded by circumstance [24]. The assumed role brings changes in posture, lexical choices, attitude, etc. Most of the time, individuals shift from one social role to another without a conscious effort, mimicking consecrated types of behavior for a given situation. Role-playing is, on the other hand, not only a learned activity, but a path towards personal and/or professional success. Role-playing games are viewed as forms of cultural rituals, appealing either to fantasy, or to non-fictional strategies, depending on the stake and purpose of the game. In the effort to innovate educational practice and re-ignite people’s appetite for learning, gamification was proposed, in the last decade, as a process capable of motivating individuals to stay committed to lifelong learning, although the outcomes of game-based learning are not always enduring [25,26]. Nevertheless, game-based learning tools and gamification are perceived as effective ways of transferring knowledge on complex topics not only to students, but to broad audiences and such tools are proposed in a variety of packages and durations. Literature on the topic [27] mentions frameworks on gameful design such as RECIPE (Reflection, Exposition, Choice, Information, Play, Engagement) and playful design such as TANC (Theme, Activities, Narrative, Components), alongside emphasizing the meaningfulness of playing and memorable experiences that win the intrinsic interest of students. Sarah Lynne Bowman makes a compelling case towards using role playing in a variety of contexts, mentioning business, education, military training, improvisational theater, drama therapy, health care and leisure. In her view, role-playing enhances a group’s sense of communal cohesiveness by providing narrative enactment within a ritual framework, encourages complex problem-solving and provides participants with the opportunity to gain experience, while being capable of offering participants a safe space to enact alternate personas [28]. She demonstrates that role-playing encourages creativity, self-awareness, empathy, group cohesion and “out-of-the-box” thinking. For the specific case of combating fake news and raising resilience against disinformation, Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden [29] propose the fake news game, explaining how the inoculation theory proves effective for developing participants’ ability to recognize and resist fake news. The game is freely accessible on the internet under the title “Bad news game,” with brief indications regarding the inoculation theory—a “vaccine against fake news”—role playing in producing fake news messages and guidance to post-game debriefing, to reflect upon the experience. Other models and games are described in literature [30], but the one developed and studied by Roozenbeek and van der Linden seems to be a forerunner.

3. Design and Methods

To facilitate students’ learning experience through game-based learning, the teaching and research team designed an experiment in the form of a serious game, incorporating learning goals specific for Romanian second-year students in communication studies, who take classes in media relations and in producing content for communication campaigns. The usefulness and value of game-based learning is advocated for and appraised in educational literature, as shown by Qian and Clark [26]. Role-playing games may take place in a variety of different formats, both in-person and online. The present study is based on the assumption that critical thinking on media consumption is enhanced by active learning methods, such as experiential learning and serious games, putting learners in a “hands-on” paradigm, instead of the spectators’ role, which is so easy to adopt in traditional education. Since the educational process was carried out online, due to pandemic-related restrictions, accessible tools and communication platforms were identified for virtual encounters, and scenarios for the two gamification stages were developed. All activities were carried out in Romanian, but for the purpose of this study relevant examples have been translated into English.
Communication students supposedly have a good level of media literacy, after the introductory course in media and communication (first year level), where the principles of MIL are taught. As an overarching theme of the exercise, the refugee crisis was selected, due to the fact that the topic is sensitive in Romanian media [31]. Also, the university city where the research was carried out proved to be in the center of media attention because of the waves of refugees from Asia and Africa in the fall and winter of 2021. The pre-game test served as a starting point for unfolding the gamified experience, each stage being followed by debriefings and debates both on the method, and on the content and outcomes of the experience. The pre-game stage used Sarah Blakeslee’s CRAAP test [32] to measure students’ ability to fact-check media messages and detect potential points of distorting the meaning of the message. Media literacy literature, however, warns that working with real-life media materials is not enough for developing resilience to misinformation [13]. Additional efforts are needed, and the research team authoring this study selected, out of the available tools, the path of gamification [18]. Hence, the next stage, role-playing in text production, aimed at unveiling the capability of students to apply the theoretical knowledge in practice and to adapt the content-production to expected style indications, preparing them for the game-playing as such. The subsequent two game-playing activities placed students in the roles of media monitors, analysts and critics, building abilities to detect the various manipulative intentions behind media messages. The debriefing stage between the two gamification stances targeted a corrective, teacher-led deciphering of the issues raised by the game. The discussion and comment-collection planned for this stage served as a test validating the acceptability of the game method by the participants, who could terminate the experience, or express their interest in moving to the second (and last) stage of the game. In the last and final stage, the whole experience was offered for appraising and extracting takeaway lessons. A more detailed presentation of the news game is presented further in the article., a Romanian free online platform was used for all three testing activities, while Zoom was used for presenting the topics, role-playing and debriefing. Additionally, the virtual campus ( accessed 20 January 2022), supporting the educational process in the university was used to collect texts produced by the participants, testimonials and post-game feedback. The game was inspired by Roozenbeek and van der Linden [29], but the teaching and research team developed a new scenario for the game, entitled “The refugee crisis seen from Timisoara”, designed the playing cards, ensured guidance and monitored the game while it unfolded from October to December 2021. A synthetic presentation of the flow is provided in Figure 1 below.
Fifty second-year students in communication studies from Politehnica University of Timisoara, Romania, took part in the experience. Measures were taken to ensure the participants’ anonymity and voluntary participation. The median age of the sample was 21.9. Each of the three surveys (the CRAAP test, gamification 1 and gamification 2) contained four closed questions and four questions inviting for free comments. Students were invited to write testimonials and a template was provided, to steer them towards reflecting not only upon the experience (I liked/I did not enjoy the game), but also upon the lessons learned from participating in the activity.
While the CRAAP test was applied individually, using a real media piece of news, all subsequent activities were assigned as group work. The basic structure of the game is as follows: players are randomly divided into groups of four people. These groups are then randomly assigned one of four key roles, developed to reflect ways in which facts can be distorted and presented in a misleading manner. In the Roozenbeek and Van Der Linden’s version of the game, the goal of each group is to produce a news article that reflects their character’s unique goals motivations. The four characters are: (1) the denier, who strives to make a topic look small and insignificant, (2) the alarmist, who wants to make the topic look as large and problematic as possible, (3) the clickbait monger, whose goal is to get as many clicks (and by extension ad revenue) as possible, and lastly (4) the conspiracy theorist, who distrusts any kind of official mainstream narrative and wants their audience to follow suit. Each group is given a so-called ‘source card’ that explains the background of the article that the players are assigned to produce. In the version presented in this study, the teaching and research team felt that the text-production, while rich in information, is not sufficient for equipping future communication professionals with tools to detect deception and dismantle disinformation. The teaching and research team produced, based on factual information, four variants of a media message on the refugee topic, written in the key of the four roles: reductionist, who strives to make a topic look small and insignificant, alarmist, who wants to make the topic look as large and problematic as possible, sensationalist, in whose presentation the desire to stir awe is obvious, and conspirationist, who distrusts any kind of official narrative and wants their audience to detect hidden cues of dark motives. These four roles cover the most common and frequent disinformation tactics [29].
Understanding that interpretation lays in the eye of the beholder [33], students were invited to identify media frames and comment upon the issues that lead them match the texts produced for Gamification 1 and Gamification 2 with the roles of media producers, mentioned in the cards. The roles and the cards are presented in Figure 2 below.
The cards were available to students throughout the game, facilitating a deeper understanding of the meaning of each role. Students could verify their assumptions, check the items that identify each role and experiment with discursive techniques to produce and/or deconstruct media messages.

4. Game Playing and Results

The experiment was launched on 18 October 2021, with pre-game testing. Students were reminded that the CRAAP verification tool was a reliable fact-checking drill to deconstruct media messages, and a link to a real media story on the refugee crisis was provided via, accompanied by a set of closed questions regarding the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose of the article ( accessed 20 November 2021) and an invitation to provide the proofs in the media message that support their choices. The number of participants in the game ranged from 34 to 57, a core of 50 students fulfilling the greatest amount of the tasks. Fifty participants responded to the questionnaire, 93% of them offering correct answers. The test served both as a reminder of the MIL principles applied to interpret media, and as a nudge to deal with the subsequent tasks from the position of (future) professional communicators.
In the second step, students were given a fact sheet with data on the topic, and were invited to create media-like content, under one of the assigned roles (described in the cards, see Figure 2), in randomly created groups of four. In the post-mortem debate, students were invited to describe their collaborative strategies and reflect on the experience in the form of testimonials. The debate highlighted that a variety of strategies were adopted by the teams to solve the task, the most popular one being Zoom sessions (72% cases), followed by Whatsapp groups (13%) and Google docs (11%). The remaining responses up to 100% were inconclusive. Comments on the experience, posted individually by the participants on the special space allocated on the virtual campus platform led to 53 testimonials. The comment collection was used by the teaching and research team as a test validating the method, students being invited to respond whether the game experience is perceived as useful and meaningful, experience building or not and to express their willingness to continue the game or terminate it at that stage. All the respondents found the experience exciting and enriching, a novelty compared to the habitual academic experiences and declared readiness to repeat the game or move along similar proposals. The testimonials offered insights into the way students appraised: (a) teamwork, (b) experimenting with strategies aiming to manipulate audiences, (c) the importance of the style/framing for content production and editing and (d) the usefulness of critical thinking and issues to look for in understanding and deconstructing a media message. Table 1 below presents some of the most relevant examples, along the four criteria of appraisal.
The next stage of the experience, designated as Gamification 1 was launched on November 1st and proposed a fact sheet, followed by four versions of media articles, written in the key of the four exercised roles: reductionist, alarmist, sensationalist and conspirationalist. Students were asked to read the articles and decide what role corresponds to what message and offer examples from the text leading them to assigning the respective role. As a debriefing strategy, correct answers were presented and commented on by the teachers. The game ended with Gamification 2, launched on December 12, to test participants’ resilience to fake news, their competence in deception detection and identification of the already drilled four roles. Once again, the teachers team proposed a fact sheet, followed by four versions of media articles, framed differently and written in the key of the four exercised roles: reductionist, alarmist, sensationalist and conspirationalist, on the same refugee crisis topic, but with new elements compared to the previous text. Results of student responses are presented comparatively in the table below:
Each article could be placed into one of the four categories, but respondents failed to notice that each had a single correct variant, which, once exhausted, was not repeated at the next ones. Within each category, responses are calculated at 100%, the percentage in the table representing the proportion of correct answers for each variant of the articles.
To illustrate students’ choices, the results for the reductionist role are presented in Figure 3 below.
The expected result was that students consolidated their capacity of correctly identifying the intentions behind the sets of articles. However, in Game 2 there was a drop in the correct responses for the reductionist variant, as seen in Table 2 and Figure 3. A similar situation is encountered for the conspirationalist variant. The second round of the game showed improvements only in the identification of the sensationalist and alarmist roles, but at lower rates by comparison to the other two roles.
After allocating the roles to each article variant, students had to motivate their choices. Here are the dominant motivations:
  • Title of the article;
  • Lexical choices (selection of words by which articles induce a state of alert or, on the contrary, try to “anesthetize” the audience);
  • Data manipulation—by exaggeration, falsification, (in)existing connections;
  • Ambiguity in expressions.
Interesting to notice is the fact that in the analysis of the articles, the resource offered by the photo and the photo caption illustrating the text was not exploited at all, even though the 21st century students are perceived as highly sensitive to visual clues. The main confusion persisting in the participants’ minds is between the alarmist and the sensationalist roles, present in both phases of the game.
In the debriefing discussion, students were presented the analysis of the results, the correct variants, and the activities they could follow, to consolidate and increase their critical thinking and resilience against fake news and disinformation.

5. Conclusions

Throughout the experiment, students were exposed to two main methods to interpret and/or produce media messages: media literacy interventions [32] and inoculation strategies [29], out of a larger repertoire of possibilities, amply discussed by Guan et al. [34]. Also, due to the difficulties encountered by students in the virtual environment for learning purposes [8], the teaching and research team adopted a procedure described in the nudge theory [35], according to which the presence of a positive stimulus helps participants in the activity develop favorable attitudes, gain confidence and concentrate on task solving, rather than on memorizing theoretical issues. At all stages of the experience, pretesting, game-playing and post-game debriefing students had the verification criteria and grids, guiding them to understand and analyze, produce and deconstruct media messages.
Resonating with Roozenbeek and van der Linden’s findings, we conclude that inoculation lessens in power and needs reinforcement, until the desired behavior is consolidated in the participants and becomes part of their way of reasoning. It was somewhat disheartening to understand that only some six weeks apart from having completed the task of interpreting the potential of fake news in offered examples participants actually did not encounter progress in combating misinformation. While the gaming experience stirred students’ interest and enthusiasm, their resilience against fake news seems to need repeated and more complex efforts. As future professionals in the field of communication studies, participants in the educational experience confessed to encounter an “aha moment” when they saw that the same factual items can be spun and treated differently by the media, according to adopted styles, hidden agendas, bias or other, undetectable at first sight, criteria. In a (future) capacity of spokesperson, reputation counsellor or media monitor, students understood the importance of framing, the necessity to carefully chose the style in content production and the pressing issue of linking content distribution to some means of fact-checking mechanism (automated or not) to enhance the chance of fighting the proliferation of fake news in relation to their area of activity. These considerations became evident during the post-game debriefing, when participants, after voicing enthusiasm with role-playing and games, started reflecting on the core of the issue, namely the takeaways for their chosen profession. Serious game playing proves to be a powerful tool for educational purposes, but one-time playing (even throughout a semester) is not enough to consolidate the desired behavioral change. It definitely offered a variety in the context of remote emergency learning, where students confessed to suffer from Zoom-phobia after more than a year of isolation. The goal of helping re-build community ties in the group of participants, promised by the promoters of gamified education, was reached [28]. But the findings of this research resonate with the careful appraisal formulated by Dichev and Dicheva [25] that there are areas of uncertainty concerning the success of game playing in education not related to the process itself, but the consistency of skills development and cognitive acquisitions. It becomes clear from the findings that the effort to build resilience against fake news requires additional strategies and targeted interventions, in formal and informal settings, to equip the young generation with the much-needed critical thinking and genuine media literacy skills and ensure a sustainable education in communication studies.
The authors of this study recognize the limitations of the endeavor: the size of the sample does not offer enough ground for considering that the results can be extrapolated to the educational system. Also, the game should be repeated, to analyze whether the results replicate or not. Hence, it is to be treated as an exploratory study, a step towards developing practical roadmaps with concrete milestones towards reaching the goal of educating a media literate, resilient, competent generation of communicators, capable of identifying and fighting disinformation (in the traditional or in the new media alike) with communication tools.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.C.-B. and D.C.; methodology, M.C.-B. and D.C. writing—original draft preparation, M.C.-B. and D.C.; writing—review and editing, M.C.-B. and D.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Ethical review and approval were waived for this study due to the fact that it is a non-interventionary research.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study and measures have been taken to ensure the anonymity of the participants.

Data Availability Statement

Data are available, upon request, from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Learning experience design.
Figure 1. Learning experience design.
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Figure 2. Role cards developed and used in the game.
Figure 2. Role cards developed and used in the game.
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Figure 3. Role identification (Gamification 1 vs. Gamification 2) for the reductionist variant.
Figure 3. Role identification (Gamification 1 vs. Gamification 2) for the reductionist variant.
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Table 1. Student comments on the game-playing experience.
Table 1. Student comments on the game-playing experience.
Teamwork“Working with people is not easy, especially when the team is made up of different people and who inevitably have different views on certain aspects. But these differences of opinion can be constructive, so it is important to listen and communicate, so the relations between us are important too”.
“I have noticed that I like to coordinate a team. Also, work is much easier and more enjoyable when several people collaborate”.
“Overall, it was nice to be part of the team, although at the beginning we had to overcome small organizational obstacles; ultimately we were able to meet and bring the task to the end”.
“I learned that a team works well if there is collaboration, empathy, and good communication”.
“The game helped me realize that teamwork is easier than individual work, due to the fact that the tasks are divided, and you have someone to counsel with, so that the outcome is better (than in individual work)”.
Experimenting with strategies aiming to manipulate audiences“It was interesting, because I was not acquainted with these strategies until the time of the game, and the dynamic experience made me understand the issue much easier than during academic lectures”.
“Manipulation strategies have always been used, either to shed a positive light on a villain or to bury the career of others. Regardless of the subject, each communicator has his/her own principles, needs, and so on. It is not new for certain communicators to manipulate audiences against or towards something in a particular topic”.
“Given that you can control your audience through that article, it requires a series of strategies that can either capture attention in a positive sense (arouse curiosity) or misinform your audience about important news.”
“I learned many new things about the roles that a news story plays and (I understood how) to observe the manipulation”.
The importance of the style/framing for content production and editing“I have noticed that the style of writing is sometimes more important than the elements communicated in a material”.
“I noticed how much the style chosen for writing alters the result; I think we need to be much more careful, because by writing in the wrong register, our intentions may not be correctly understood”.
“The editorial style is a very important one, because it determines whether the audience perceives the information reported, in the way in which it should be understood”.
“The game made me aware that news can be written in many ways, and those who write it may have other intentions/agendas than those to present the truth as it is”.
Issues to look for in understanding and deconstructing a media message“The game helped me better understand what the competence of critical thinking means”.
“We learned how manipulation/disinformation can be dismantled”.
“It is very important to get to know ourselves first what criteria to check information to apply, before believing absolutely everything we see, hear or read”.
“In order to understand a news story well, you need to know how to pass it through certain filters, these being the critical grids”.
Table 2. Comparison between the two stages of the game, identifying the role present in the article.
Table 2. Comparison between the two stages of the game, identifying the role present in the article.
RoleGamification 1
(% of Correct Responses)
Gamification 2
(% of Correct Responses)
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Cernicova-Buca, M.; Ciurel, D. Developing Resilience to Disinformation: A Game-Based Method for Future Communicators. Sustainability 2022, 14, 5438.

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Cernicova-Buca M, Ciurel D. Developing Resilience to Disinformation: A Game-Based Method for Future Communicators. Sustainability. 2022; 14(9):5438.

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Cernicova-Buca, Mariana, and Daniel Ciurel. 2022. "Developing Resilience to Disinformation: A Game-Based Method for Future Communicators" Sustainability 14, no. 9: 5438.

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