First announced during the Women in Games 2007 conference over the weekend, a new UK university project aims to help locate missing children using a new serious game designed for mobile phones.
According to a new report
by consumer website GameSpot, the serious game project called Lost & Found was presented by Professor Lizbeth Goodman, director of Smartlab Digital Media Institute at the University of East London, and offers "a portable system to track missing and exploited children (and adults)." According to the report, each year in the U.S. nearly 800,000 children go missing, and 77,000 in the UK.
The Lost & Found serious game is designed to take advantage of current mobile technology in order to “mobilize community intervention,” by posting images of missing people over a “GPS-enabled system with live and online objectives to track sightings.”
According to Smartlab, these objectives will include blocking roads, exploring fields, and performing other various tasks deemed necessary in order to “find those who are lost and report those who are hiding them.” The project was made possible through a partnership between Smartlab and multiple other organizations, including BBC R&D, Microsoft Research, Nokia Foresighting, Lego Communities, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (USA) and the UK Serious Crimes Unit.
While this may seem like an odd candidate to be classified as a “game,” even one of the serious variety, Goodman commented, “If it's a project that sounds worthy, or that there are cops involved, or that you have to hand over personal data, people aren't interested. But if we let them use an avatar, they're ok with that.”
Finally, according to information available on the project's website
, Lost & Found will include Skype links, mobile sensors, and links to public webcams, podcasts, and broadcasts so that players can “see their own input to achieving success in FINDING lost community members, and to change the nature of play, and the sense of responsibility it entails.”