SAVING LIVES "COOL" AS HUMANITARIAN VIDEO GAME SURPASSES ONE MILLION PLAYERS
ROME Within six weeks of its launch, the game that few expected to be a smash hit has shown the international games market that a non-violent, educational video game about hunger is "cool" amongst kids.
As the commercial gaming world gathered for the largest annual game forum -- E3 in California -- a dynamic new humanitarian video game for kids called "Food Force", launched by the UN World Food Programme, attracted its millionth user.
Designed to educate kids about hunger by working alongside a crack team of emergency aid workers, kids from more than 40 different countries have now downloaded the game.
"Not one shot was fired - unusual in games these days," said John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications. "From the United States to India, the game has kids and teachers excited about playing as well as learning more about world hunger. We've struck the right balance between entertainment, game play and communicating a global issue like hunger."
Available as a free download through a dedicated website where a rich array of educational information on global hunger can also be found -- www.food-force.com -- the game contains six different missions for children 8-13 years old, who are faced with a number of realistic challenges. In a race against time, they must feed thousands of people in the fictitious island of Sheylan; they pilot helicopters while looking out for hungry people; negotiate with armed rebels blocking a food convoy; and use food aid to help rebuild communities.
Evidence of the overwhelming response to the game includes thousands of kids' comments posted on www.food-force.com along with their highest scores. "I heard about this amazing game, just 5 days ago from our local TV news channel. I appreciate this intelligent method of drawing attention and edifying our next generation. It is my great opportunity to mingle my contribution with millions..." Ahmed Dhaka, Bangladesh (24/05/05).
"This game isn't even translated and we're already reaching 40 countries," continues Powell, who is looking for potential sponsors/partners for translation into languages such as Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese. This follows huge demand by kids, teachers and other groups as the game is currently available in English only.
The game continues to receive five-star ratings from educational game sites all over the world.
"Finally! An educational game that rocks! Informative, well-produced and very enjoyable to play," wrote Watercoolergames.com.
Backed by Yahoo! and Internet2, a Washington-based educational high speed network, the World Food Programme is now focussing on the free distribution into schools in multiple geographic markets. The game is supported by a community web site (www.food-force.com) which includes teacher lesson packs on world hunger, available in seven languages and provided by a UN sister organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The MAC & PC based video game is available as a free internet download from www.food-force.com.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP We Feed People.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.
For more information on Food Force or WFP, please see:
Mob +39 348 0515150
Vichi De Marchi
Mob +39 348 0517605
Deputy Director Communications,
Mob. + 1-202 4223383