José-Luis Rojas-Torrijos e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


José-Luis Rojas-Torrijos e-mail(Login required)


Sports media coverage of mega-events is partly oriented to gamification, the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-gaming contexts. This infotainment approach to events has been developed by media outlets as an original and effective way to capture wider audience attention and to place events in context before a competition starts. This article examines 28 gamified sports pieces developed by media outlets from seven countries during the last two Olympics (2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang) and Football World Cups (2014 in Brazil and 2018 in Russia). This sample comprises two categories following Ferrer-Conill (2015): “gamified pieces” (game like elements that are part of a bigger interactive feature) and “newsgames” (more sophisticated pieces often included in complex graphics or multimedia content). The results show that, despite its entertaining formula, gamification serves mainly informational purposes and adds value to sports coverage. Especially in the Summer and Winter Olympics, gamified sports pieces tend to be explanatory and data-driven in order to inform the audience about nonmainstream sports.


sports journalism, digital journalism, gamification, newsgames, graphics


Andrews, P. (2014). Sports Journalism: A Practical Introduction (2nd edition). London: Sage.

Bogost, I., Ferrari, S. & Shcweizee, B. (2010). Newsgames: Journalism at Play. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Boyle, R. (2017). Sports Journalism. Changing journalism practice and digital media. Digital Journalism, 5(5), 493-495.

Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R. & Nacke, L. (2011). From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. In Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning future Media Environments, (pp. 9-15). ACM.

Dowling, D. & Vogan, T. (2015). Can We “Snowfall” This? Digital longform and the race for the tablet market. Digital Journalism, 3(2), 209-224.

English, P. (2018). Sports Journalism. In J. F. Nussbaum (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication (pp. 1-18). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Errea, J. (2017). Visual Journalism: Infographics from the World’s Best Newsrooms and Designers. Berlin: Gestalten.

Ferrer-Conill, R. & Karlsson, M. (2015). The Gamification of Journalism. In D. Z. Davis & H. Gangadharbatla (Eds.), Emerging Research and Trends in Gamification (pp. 356-383). Hershey (Pennsylvania): IGI Global. Retrieved from

Ferrer-Conill, R. (2015). Points, badges, and news: A study of the introduction of gamification into journalism practice. Comunicació: Revista de Recerca i d’Anàlisi, 33(2), 45-63.

Finch, H. & Lewis, J. (2003), “Focus Groups.” In J. Ritchie & J. Lewis (Eds.), Qualitative Research Practice: A Guide for Social Science Students and Researchers (pp. 171-194). London: Sage.

Flores-Vivar, J.M. (2017). Los elementos del ciberperiodismo. Madrid: Síntesis.

Foxman, M. (2015). Play the News. Fun and Games in Digital Journalism. Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Retrieved from

García-Ortega, A. & García-Avilés, J. A. (2018). Los newsgames como estrategia narrativa en el periodismo transmedia: propuesta de un modelo de análisis. Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación, 9(1), 327-346.

Gideon, L. (Ed.) (2012). Handbook of Survey Methodology for the Social Sciences. Berlin: Springer.

Horky, T. & Pelka, P. (2017). Data Visualisation in Sports Journalism. Digital Journalism, 5(5), 587-606.

Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence Culture. La cultura de la convergencia de los medios de comunicación. Barcelona: Paidós.

Kapp, K. M. (2013). The gamification of learning and instruction fieldbook: Ideas into practice. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Lambert, C. (2019). Digital Sports Journalism. London: Routledge.

Linstone, H. A. & Turoff, M. (2002). The Delphi Method. Techniques and Applications. Retrieved from

Mañas, L. (2018). Los newsgames: análisis de su contenido gamificado por formatos periodísticos inmersivos. In Á. Torres-Toukoumidis & L. M. Romero-Rodríguez (Eds.). Gamificación en Iberoamérica. Experiencias desde la Comunicación y la Educación (pp. 19-34). Quito: Abya-Yala.

Mauri-Ríos, M. & Ramon, X. (2015). New media accountability systems. exploration of the spanish online environment. El profesional de la información, 24(4), 380-389.

McGillivray, D. (2014). Digital cultures, acceleration and mega sporting event narratives. Leisure Studies, 3(1), 96-109.

Mello-Klein, C. (2017, April 26). The power of play: Why journalists should warm up to newsgames. Storybench. Retrieved from

Murray, D. (2014). Interactive Infographics and News Values, Digital Journalism, 2(4), 490-506.

Ramon, X. & Tulloch, C. (2017). Take Five: How Sports Illustrated and L’Équipe redefine the long-form sports journalism genre. Digital Journalism, 5(5), 652-672.

Roche, M. (2017). Mega-events and Social Change: Spectacle, Legacy and Public Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Rojas-Torrijos, J. L. (2014). Sports Journalism, dissemination and innovation. A case study of the international news coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Textual & Visual Media, 7, 117-130. Retrieved from

Rojas-Torrijos, J. L. & Rivera, A. (2016). El Español and El Confidencial, models of data sports journalism in Spanish native digital news media. Doxa Comunicación, 23, 171-193. Retrieved from

Rojas-Torrijos, J. L. (2018). El legado periodístico de los megaeventos. Estudio de innovaciones en las coberturas de los últimos Juegos Olímpicos y Copas del Mundo de fútbol. Revista Communicare, 18, 34-50. Retrieved from

Rowe, D. (2007). Sports journalism: still the “toy department” of the news media? Journalism, 8(4), 385-405.

Ruiz-Collantes, F. (2013). Juegos y relatos como vivencias narrativas. In C. A. Scolari, Homo videoludens 2.0. De Pacman a la gamificación (pp. 17-52). Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.

Salaverría, R. (2018). Periodismo digital: 25 años de investigación. El Profesional de la Información, 28(1), 1-28.

Thurman, N. & Walters, A. (2012). LiveBlogging-Digital Journalism’s Pivotal Platform? Digital Journalism, 1(1), 82-101.

Thussu, D. K. (2007). News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment. London: Sage.

Torres-Toukoumidis, A. & Romero, L. M. (Eds.) (2018). Gamificación en Iberoamérica. Experiencias desde la Comunicación y la Educación. Quito: Abya-Yala.

Webster, J. G. & Ksiazek, T. B. (2012). The Dynamics of Audience Fragmentation: Public Attention in an Age of Digital Media. Journal of Communication, 62(1), 39-56.

Wenner, L. & Billings, A. C. (2017). Sport, Media and Mega-Events. London: Routledge.


List of newsgames analysed and mentioned in this article.

and 2018 FIFA World Cups

El País (2018, May 14). ‘La porra del Mundial’. Retrieved from

Five Thirty Eight (2017, December 1). ‘Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?’. Retrieved from

La Nación (2017, November 30). ‘Pronóstico del Mundial’. Retrieved from

L’Équipe (2017, June 6). Quels Bleus au Mondial de 2018? Faites votre liste. Retrieved from

Marca (2018, June 11). El pronunciador. Retrieved from

O Globo (2018, May 11). Copa cabelo & bigode. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2014, June 24). ‘World Cup 2014: knockout stages planner’. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2018, May 30).’World Cup all-time XIs’. Retrieved from

The Irish Times (2018, June 19). ‘Spot the Ball’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2014, June 19). ‘Spot the Ball’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2018, June 26). ‘Spot the Ball’. Retrieved from

The Telegraph (2018, March 1). ‘World Cup 2018 Wallchart Predictor’. Retrieved from

and 2018 Olympic Games

BBC Sport (2016, August 10). ‘Who is Your Olympic Body Match?’. Retrieved from

Financial Times (2016, August 12). ‘On Your Marks’. Retrieved from

La Nación (2016, August 19). ‘Río 2016: corré la carrera de 200m y enfrentá a Bolt desde el teclado de tu computadora’. Retrieved from

O Globo (2016, February 25). ‘Você consegue escalar um time melhor que o Dream Team’. Retrieved from

RTVE (2016, August 21). ‘Juega a identificar los sonidos olímpicos de Río’. Retrieved from

RTVE (2016, August 16). ‘Qué sabes de…’. Retrieved from

RTVE (2016, August 10). ‘Match Game’. Retrieved from

The Boston Globe (2016, August 23). ‘Do You Know what the Olympics Really Sound Like?’. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2016, August 6). ‘RioRun’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2016, August, 9). ‘Olympic Bodies: Can You Guess their Sport?’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2016, August 18). ‘Olympic Races, in Your Neighborhood’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2016, August 13). ‘Can You Beat Usain Bolt Out of the Blocks?’. Retrieved from

The Wall Street Journal (2016, August 4). ‘Armchair Olympian’. Retrieved from

The Washington Post (2016, August 10). ‘What Olympic Sports Fit Your Body?’. Retrieved from

The Washington Post (2018, February 2). ‘The Speediest Winter Olympic Sports’. Retrieved from

The Washington Post (2018, February 14). ‘Do You Know How to Judge Figure Skating?’. Retrieved from

Other sporting events coverage

Le Monde (2016, May 30). ‘Roland Garros: saurez-vous reconnaître ces joueurs de tennis à leur cri?’. Retrieved from

The Guardian (2010, August 2-2011, December 11). ‘Spot the Ball’. Retrieved from

The New York Times (2013, September 2). ‘Sounds of Exertion’. Retrieved from

The Wall Street Journal (2015, August 31). ‘Are You Good Enough to be a Tennis Line Judge?’. Retrieved from

The Wall Street Journal (2016, May 18). ‘French Open. Are You Good Enough to be a Tennis Line Judge?’. Retrieved from


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details