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Breaking news becomes video games for Nickelodeon's AddictingGames

July 8, 2009 | 10:01 pm

Where's the Naughty Governor 2 Nickelodeon is best known for "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "iCarly," but the kids' cable network is doing something very different on the Web: video games based on breaking news events.

These so-called "news games" have become a unique specialty of AddictingGames, a website that Nick's parent company Viacom acquired as part of its purchase of Atom Entertainment in 2006. The site was historically a home for user-created games -- call it a YouTube for video games.

But in the last few years, AddictingGames has started producing some of its own exclusive games. Among the most popular early on in the effort: Cheney's Fury, which played off the former veep's accidental shooting of a friend on a hunting trip, and Zidane Headbutt, which put players in the cleats of the French soccer star who was ejected from the 2006 World Cup. Online video games that tie into the most talked about topics on the Web, in other words, get a lot of love.

The success of those titles spurred AddictingGames to build 19 news games in the last year. They're not necessarily the biggest moneymakers, as they're often embedded on blogs and Facebook pages, instead of being played on the site where they're surrounded by advertising. But they do generate huge amounts of online buzz for the brand, making the less than $10,000 it costs to make each game a worthwhile investment.

AddictingGames now attempts to release one news game per month. Last week, The Times attended a brainstorming session and development session at the AddictingGames office in San Francisco where they were working on their 20th, titled Where's the Naughty Governor? It plays off of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's recent adultery-related disappearance and features levels with other poorly behaved politicians like John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevey and, in a last-minute addition, Sarah Palin.

Read the story from tomorrow's L.A. Times about the development of Where's the Naughty Governor? and AddictingGames' news games strategy here.

And give the game a try below. Don't worry if you're not a gamer. Anyone who has ever read a "Where's Waldo?" book will pick it up very fast.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: A scene from Where's the Naughty Governor? Credit: AddictingGames.


- Web games ripped from the headlines

- Photos: Where's the Naughty Governor?