Food Force: The UN does gaming

The UN World Food Programme has taken the same approach as the US Army to get attention with youth by creating a free downloadable PC game. From the initial press release in April 2005:

Bologna, Italy — A plane circles over a crisis zone. War. Drought. People are hungry. The aircraft goes into a steep climb before launching its first airdrop of food aid. A truck struggles up a muddy, treacherous road, and rebels loom. People are anxious, waiting and food is scarce.

This is the virtual world of “Food Force”. Not an action film, but the first humanitarian video game about global hunger unveiled today by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) at the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy.

“Communicating with children today means using the latest technology,” said Neil Gallagher, WFP’s Director of Communications. “Children in the developed world don’t know what it’s like go to bed threatened by starvation. In an exciting and dynamic form, Food Force will generate kids’ interest and understanding about hunger, which kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”

While playing the game’s six different missions alongside Food Force’s crack team of emergency aid workers, children aged 8 to 13 will be faced with a number of realistic challenges to quickly feed thousands of people in the fictitious island of Sheylan – piloting helicopters on reconnaissance missions, negotiating with armed rebels on a convoy run, and using food to help rebuild villages.

To date, the game has been downloaded 3.5 million times, and has specfically included help for teachers to teach the issues of world hunger. Very nice.


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