One of today's main Gamasutra features, this write-up covers a fascinating talk at the Serious Games Summit 2005 in Washington DC, featuring Justin Roche, the program manager for the United Nations’ first computer game – Food Force
– which was conceived and developed by the World Food Programme – a frontline agency for fighting world hunger.
This extract from the feature explains the UN's thinking in creating an educational title:
"So why did the U.N. develop a game? The idea was originally proposed by an Italian field worker named Paola Biocca, who died in the line of duty in Kosovo in 1999. The game is dedicated to her. It came from a belief that young people could learn from games… that “young people were left out of the discussion of world hunger.” Roche added that every five seconds a child dies from hunger, and since Live Aid 20 years ago, the situation has gotten worse. “We will lose this fight if we don’t do something about it. We decided that we needed to target future decisions makers.”
One of the challenges was how to create a game that would engage kids and accomplish their goals on virtually no budget. It was agreed that money for this project could not come at the expense of their main humanitarian efforts, so it took a lot of time, dedication and the generosity of others to get the job done. The project was amortized over 2.5-3 years. “We knew we had to develop a game exciting enough for kids to get engaged. We spent about $5000 on consulting about gaming and decided that it was worth going forward. Of course, when we started we didn’t think it would take so long.”
In the end, they took their concepts and storyboards to an Italian game developer named Depend, who implemented the project with Macromedia Director and donated some of their time and technology. In the end, the project cost approximately $475,000. “By that time, we knew it was going to work; the vision was there.""
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including further background and details on Food Force
's success thus far (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).