More than a decade and a half after the EA Spouse letter was published in 2004, crunch culture is still a big issue in the video game industry. In this explainer, Umar Hassan explores the term and how crunch is used in a development cycle of a video game.

Photo by Stem List on Unsplash

During the coronavirus pandemic, video games have played a major role in helping millions stay connected with friends, family members, and work colleagues.

A report from Robert Walters and Vacancysoft noted that 47,000 people are employed directly and indirectly in the video game sector in the United Kingdom, which includes sectors such as merchandising and eSports.

The issue of crunch is not new in video game development, and goes way back to November 2004 when an anonymous letter was posted by EA Spouse around working practices at Electronic Arts.

Digital exclusion affects millions in the UK who are unable to access the internet. In this explainer, it will dive into this issue and the things currently being done to get the digitally excluded online.

Photo by Thom on Unsplash

Many people lack internet access at home in the United Kingdom, which leaves them vulnerable to being digitally excluded from society.

Nearly two million households in the UK have no internet access and are reliant on using pay-as-you-go services to access educational, healthcare and banking resources online.

This issue is not new and goes back to the 1970s, when information and communication technologies (ICT) first emerged in that decade. Fast-forward to the 2020s and many people remain digitally excluded in the UK.

What worked, what elements didn’t work and how could I use some elements in the WaPo’s newsgame in my portfolio.

Credit: Washington Post

7 ways to defy death is a newsgame that was created by The Washington Post in April 2015.

The newsgame forms one part in the WaPo’s “The Human Upgrade” series where technology companies were exploring ways for human being to defy death using technology and data to do this.

Unlike the Financial Times’ newsgames The Trade-Off and The Uber Game, the WaPo’s 7 ways to defy death uses mini-games to show how new treatments can prolong the life of an average American.

While my newsgame will not be focused on health, there are some elements that I can apply into…

Here’s how I would present my special educational needs story that I had written as a video report, which is shown with this BBC Newsnight SEND investigation example.

Credit: BBC Newsnight

This video by BBC Newsnight on their YouTube channel investigates how more than 1,500 children who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have no school place in England.

It’s a great example of how this investigation uses video to illustrate the issue of how pupils with SEND are being ‘squeezed’ out of school. If this investigation was covered in a different medium (audio or text), it would lack the same impact that this Newsnight video report achieves.

BBC Newsnight is a news and current affairs programme so its audience is more likely to be constructed towards older people in…

In this post, I reflect on my approach to writing for social with platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

For many years, I have had an active social media presence. When I did my undergraduate degree at Birmingham City University, I had one account per social media platform (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat), and a Facebook page to showcase my professional work as a journalist.

Even though I love a good tweet, I would admit that with Facebook and Instagram, I do neglect those platforms when it comes to writing for social. On my social media platforms, I follow a lot of journalists and news outlets so my tweets and posts tend to be very journalism-focused.

For this task…

Here’s the full interview feature with Adam Smith on Medium, which you can read here.

Credit: Umar Hassan

The interview I conducted with hard news journalist Adam Smith back in January 2020 was written in the style of an interview feature.

As the interview piece is heavily driven by Adam’s quotes throughout the article, this interview feature is focused on his career in the industry, which spans more than two decades in local, regional and national journalism.

Originally, when I interviewed Adam, I knew immediately that the feature interview genre was well-suited to the piece I wanted to create.

Freelance Writing defines feature writing as:

“Feature writing provides scope, depth, and interpretation of trends, events, topics or people.

Umar Hassan sits down with hard news journalist Adam Smith to discuss about his journalism journey, exposing corruption at Sandwell Council and his stint in London for the Metro.

Credit: Umar Hassan

When I interviewed Adam Smith in person earlier in the year, it was at a time where social distancing did not exist, as well as the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the United Kingdom for much of the year.

How times change nine months later with interviews taking place remotely on Zoom and Skype due to COVID-19. I was very fortunate to interview Adam at the Arthur Robertson pub in Perry Barr, Birmingham in January 2020.

Adam’s career in journalism has been anything but a rollercoaster. His first job in the industry was working for the now defunct Lichfield Mercury

Credit: timstalb for Pixabay.

Almost a quarter of stop and searches for controlled drugs carried out by West Midlands Police in August 2020 were for the Pakistani ethnic group.

Of the 523 stop and searches carried out for controlled drugs in that month from West Midlands Police, there were 125 searches carried out within that ethnic group.

That’s a 2% fall for the ethnic Pakistani group from August 2019 carried out by West Midlands Police where there were 145 stop and searches being made for controlled drugs.

In comparison, other ethnic groups, which include Black Africans, Black Caribbeans, Indians, and White Irish were…

Here is a critical analysis on Tortoise’s investigation into how COVID has left millions of people in the UK fearing unemployment.

Tortoise has not only an online website and an app to read its journalism content, it also has a podcast, called the Slow Newscast where it investigates a topic it has covered every week. Credit: Tortoise Media

Tortoise is a member-funded digital news publication which specialises in “slow news” (investigative journalism).

The publication’s focus is not on fast-paced breaking news, but what’s driving the news agenda whether that’s a story relating to coronavirus, technology or health.

It holds a series of weekly events, called ThinkIns, in which members collaborate with journalists to work on stories that are based around a number of subjects.

ThinkIns are not just restricted to the open newsroom format, Tortoise hold ThinkIn events with well-known speakers on subjects such as mental health, technology, and politics.

Here’s a ThinkIn Tortoise has done around disinformation…

Credit: Nergelag for Pixabay.

With a coronavirus pandemic still continuing, a day trip to London is worth considering in the age of holiday travel quarantines. [ABSTRACT]

While the trains are not full of people, my carriage on the Avanti West Coast service to London Euston is dead silent at 8:50am on Friday 11 September 2020. [ORIENTATION]

As the train departs from Birmingham New Street, the train manager’s voice is heard throughout the carriage, with the same guidance being delivered on staying safe.

“Please wear a face covering on the train or you will be given a £100 fine.”

Sitting on the train, a fellow…

Umar Hassan

Data Journalist specialising in technology & investigations. Rock n’ roll enthusiast, recovering gamer & fitness addict.

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