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New videogame: be a hero, save the hungry - and its popular!

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Tue 10 Jan, 2006 12:22 pm
Last April, the UN World Food Program introduced a computer video game that it hoped would teach children something about global hunger. "Food Force" quietly made its debut at a children's book fair in Bologna, Italy.

Now, more than three million people have downloaded it, making it the second most downloaded free Internet game, after the U.S. Army's recruiting tool, "America's Army."

No one shoots anyone in Food Force. Rebels are negotiated with, not blown away, and the women are sensibly dressed aid professionals - although one character does greatly resemble Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider." It is one of a very new category of peace games.

I thought this was a great idea - and doesn't it lift one's heart to see that it's so succesful!

Full article: ->

Quote:
Like Lara Croft, with rice bags

Tina Rosenberg The New York Times

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2005

Last April, the UN World Food Program introduced a computer video game that it hoped would teach children something about global hunger. "Food Force" quietly made its debut at a children's book fair in Bologna, Italy. To the organization's shock, it soon had so many hits that the Web site kept crashing, and it has become the most unlikely of cult sensations.

No one shoots anyone in Food Force. Rebels are negotiated with, not blown away, and the women are sensibly dressed aid professionals - although one character does greatly resemble Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider." Yet "Food Force" has quickly become the second most downloaded free Internet game, after the U.S. Army's recruiting tool, "America's Army."

More than three million people have downloaded it so far (at www.food-force.com, for both Macs and Windows) - and it is only now being translated into languages other than English and Japanese.

"Food Force" has also attracted an unlikely partner in the U.S. NFL Players Association, which promises a trip to the Super Bowl for the child with the highest score.

The game is this: The fictional Indian Ocean island of Sheylan has been ravaged by drought and civil war; millions of people need food. The player joins a World Food Program team and must airdrop food from a C-130 Hercules; pilot a surveillance chopper; navigate a supply truck through land mines and guerrilla checkpoints; coordinate shipping and prices for rice, beans and oil on the world market; design a nutritionally balanced food package for the hungry; and use food to help rebuild a community.

Sponsored video games are becoming more popular as advertisers look for young consumers where they are spending more and more of their time. Many advertisers pay to place their products in computer games. Others design their own games, from Coke to the National Christmas Tree Association, which promotes real trees over plastic ones in "Attack of the Mutant Artificial Trees."

"Food Force" is one of a very new category of peace games. One of the pioneers, "Pax Warrior," puts its players in charge of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide there.

Another in development is won by solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and MTV is asking viewers to design a video game about genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

"Food Force," which cost the World Food Program $350,000 to develop ("America's Army" cost $7 million) is a natural for an agency filled with real Lara Crofts - doing airdrops, confronting doped-up 13-year-old guerrillas, driving convoys through terrain filled with land mines.

If anything, "Food Force" is unrealistically nonviolent: Sixty World Food Program workers have died in the line of duty since 1992, including Paola Biocca, the first person at the World Food Program to work on developing "Food Force."

"Food Force" is an attempt to make children, who can be fundamentalists about saving the world, aware that one person every five seconds dies of hunger, most of them children. It also tries to demonstrate that concrete steps can help, and that working on hunger is exciting and cool.

"We're looking with intensity at the next generation, trying to engage them early," says Jennifer Parmelee, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program in Washington. "We need people who will stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable in the 21st century.' Right now, this is not a battle we're winning."
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,873 • Replies: 8
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:19 am
That is pretty cool!

I love that bit about children being "fundamentalists about saving the world".
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:45 am
Concrete steps help. Very cool.

This is on our minds right now as for some reason sozlet really registered a man begging the other day (not the first time we've seen people begging, at all) and we had a long interesting discussion about it. She wants to DO something.
0 Replies
 
Mandso
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Feb, 2006 01:36 am
If this game is so popular, why did only 2 people reply?
hah
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Feb, 2006 02:05 am
I just saw the thread - so now it's four people who've replied (so far). I think it's great. How innovative and intelligent of those people to take a technology that's been such a negative influence on kids in so many ways, and turn it around into something positive. It still makes me sad that so many kids (and adults now) are addicted to these things and living their lives simulating life in front of a screen- but since it does seem like they're here to stay - it's good to accentuate and take advantage of the positive uses.

I'm also encouraged that it's gotten such a good response. Maybe there is hope for our world and for our kids.

(Thanks Nihm - this is honestly the first positive news story I've read all week).
0 Replies
 
Mandso
 
  1  
Reply Sat 4 Feb, 2006 02:06 am
yes, there is hope for children...
0 Replies
 
pseudokinetics
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:36 pm
Hey! Im a child so dont mess with my age bracket.
0 Replies
 
kermit
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Feb, 2006 01:38 pm
that's pretty good concept! def need to encourage more humanitarian mindset from younger gen instead of blowing stuff up left and right. of course, it would help if our govt also reflected such an attitude...
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Feb, 2006 12:57 am
Yeah - and/or just the normal plain old adults that are walking around supposedly "teaching" kids how to act, providing role models, etc.

I really believe in most instances we have it backwards. Most of the kids I meet could teach us adults a thing or two about life and how it should be lived. I'm almost afraid to say it (because it's from the Bible and I know that's not real popular right now) but I remember something in there about a small child leading us. I think that's one of the things we could maybe take literally - or at least I choose to. And not necessarily any specific small child - but every small child. I've never seen any creature that's more amenable to peace and open to love (except a dog, maybe). Little children just ask to have their most basic needs met - and they're happy. No manipulation or competition - they just want to be fed, changed and held- they're amazing to me- and so wise. I know I saw in my own son's eyes from the minute he was born and opened them - that he was wiser than I was. I believe he came with it - as all children do - and then we let our world dilute it and pollute it and turn them into little miniature idiot adults. How sad.

Anyway- sorry to hijack your thread - I just have more to say about children than video games.
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