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Games Drive Awareness For Global Conflict

  •, Thursday, June 29, 2006 11 AM
Educators wanting to teach young adults about global problems such as world hunger and poverty are turning to video games in an attempt to reach them on their turf. The idea is to use video games to educate, but also to get them to think critically about issues like Middle East peace and surviving war-torn regions like the Sudan. "It's the next generation of activism," said Stephen Friedman, a GM at mtvU, a television network owned by MTV Networks that directs its content at college students. The company created a grant program encouraging educational games. "Given this generation lives online, it's heartening to see them using this incredibly powerful medium in a very potent way," Friedman told Reuters. Games like "Darfur is Dying"--in which players try to avoid being killed in the violence-plagued region of the Sudan--have been downloaded more than 750,000 times in the past two months, while the UN's game "Food Force" has been downloaded more than 2 million times. At this week's Games for Change conference in New York, New School University President Bob Kerrey said the niche market had attracted interest from large gaming companies. He added that games "...can be used to accomplish educational missions and improve people's quality of understanding of what's going on in the world." Awareness, he said, is the first step; the question then becomes "how do I use it to accomplish something good?"



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