UN Reaches Millions More With Video Game
UN Reaches Millions More With Video Game Portraying Fight Against Hunger
New York, Oct 10 2006 3:00PM
The world’s first humanitarian video game – a United Nations-produced virtual world of planes launching food airdrops over crisis zones and emergency trucks struggling up treacherous roads under rebel threat with emergency supplies to combat hunger – is extending its potential audience by tens of millions of people.
Already available in English, Japanese, Italian and Polish, the game will now be accessible in French, Hungarian and Chinese by the end of next week, vastly increasing the forum for the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) ‘Food Force’ – www.food-force.com – designed to teach youngsters about the problems of global hunger and what humanitarian organizations do to fight it.
The English, Japanese, Italian and Polish versions, which were launched over the past 18 months, have totalled over 4.5 million downloads to date, making Food Force a major success story in the educational gaming sector.
“Food Force is clear evidence that with the right medium, an issue as invisible and distant as hunger in the developing world can trigger interest and support in countries where too much food is the high profile problem today,” WFP’s Director of Communications Neil Gallagher said of the free download, which is targeted at children aged 8 to 13.
“Positive reactions from children, teachers, parents, game specialists around the world have surpassed all our expectations. We are thrilled that Food Force has crossed so many borders,” he added.
Gamers face a number of realistic challenges to urgently feed thousands of people on the fictitious island of Sheylan, piloting helicopters on reconnaissance missions, negotiating with armed rebels on convoy runs and using food to help rebuild villages.
Before each mission, the player is presented with an educational video segment about the reality of WFP work in the field, teaching them how WFP responds to actual food emergencies – where food originates, its nutritional breakdowns and how it is delivered.
All Food Force language versions have been made possible through donations from game industry leaders and international organizations. The French game was supported by the computer and video game publisher Ubisoft and will be launched in Paris on 15 October.
The Hungarian version, to be launched in Budapest on 13 October, has been financed by the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, ECHO, and the Chinese version, built on a pro-bono basis by one of China’s leading media companies, Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, will be presented to the public on 19 October.