Issue 8

Headliner: A Chilling View of How Hate Sells

Headliner is an indie game developed by Jakub Kasztalski, where players are tasked with being the editor of a fictional magazine in a fictional town. Their responsibilities are primarily concerned with choosing which stories get reported in the next day’s news cycle. As the editor, players need to prioritize the news stories that they believe best contributes to the social cohesion of the town, while at the same time ensuring that their newspaper remains profitable. 

The game soon evolves into a test of character, as all the choices that players make directly affect their in-game family and society. Kasztalski effectively establishes conflicts that are hard to navigate – with players’ job security, familial interests and general social atmosphere often placed at odds with one another. Ranging from issues of sensationalism and hateful narratives, to personal biases and ambitions, the game provides its players with an understanding of the complexities within the operation of news media. In an ecosystem where stories that sell better outshine those more worthy of telling, Headliner proves to be an inexplicably valuable tool for highlighting the processes and dilemmas underlying contemporary reportage.