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Game Design for Social Change

I am completely inspired by a project by the World Food Programme called Free Rice. I stumbled upon this website and I can’t stop thinking that it is the next step in gaming for education. I don’t know a ton about gaming but what I do know is that many kids and teens are highly engaged by video games, while many teachers who I know struggle to find ways to incorporate video/computer games into learning.

Free Rice is in essence a computer game that promotes social change. Players have the power to make great change and learn at the same time. For every correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated to help end world hunger. Currently, Free Rice has questions in the following categories: vocabulary, math, science, geography, art history, and foreign languages. To play the game:

  1. Visit the site and click on the right answer in the middle of the page.
  2. If you get it right, you get a harder question. If you get it wrong, you get an easier question.
  3. For each answer you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

To be honest, I am more intrigued by the idea of games for social change than the actual game itself. I love this notion that we can make helping others a meaningful reward, replacing those rewards that are materialistic. One thing I have learned from being in so many classrooms is that kids LOVE to help. They seek out purpose and if they feel like they are making an impact, they become more motivated. The idea behind Free Rice is simple, yet brilliant: Learn and help others in the process!

Whether you are a parent at home or a teacher at school, try introducing your kids to Free Rice and see what they think. I would love to hear feedback on this game so if you try it out, leave a comment about your experience. As far as next steps are concerned, I want to hear about students who are designing their own games for social change.

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