[P4K] Students in Global Kids Receive Inaugural Award at the Annual Games for Change Festival


561 Broadway New York, NY 10012 www.globalkids.org 212-226-0130


Jonah Kokodyniak, Global Kids, 212-226-2116, Jonah@globalkids.org
Tom Mariam, Mariam Communications, 914-939-4294, tom@mariam.biz

For Immediate Release:


At the fourth annual Games For Change Festival, held June 11-12 at the Parson’s New School of Design in New York City, Global Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating urban youth in international issues, won one of the first Games for Change ("GaCha") Awards for the best games for change made over the past few years. Global Kids's game Ayiti: The Cost of Life, created by students in Brooklyn in partnership with game development company, Gamelab, was awarded best awareness-raising game, for "the game that best raises awareness of an important social issue through engaging and meaningful gameplay."

The game is part of the program, Playing for Keeps (P4K), which was developed by youth, including twenty-four students from South Shore High School, a largely minority school of approximately 2,300 students in Canarsie Brooklyn. Professionals from Gamelab, a game development company located in New York, were central to the success of the Ayiti: The Cost of Life as they partnered together with Global Kids on this project.

During the 2005-2006 school year, program participants conducted research about global issues and gained digital literacy, leadership, and career skills. Students participated in workshops on such global issues as Defining Human Rights, Racism, Health, Education, and Children’s Rights, and then selected an issue on which to focus the game. The focus evolved to poverty and the location became Haiti. The game is used to educate players about the problems faced by many in developing countries. Students played the game both within the classroom setting and in after-school programs.

In Ayiti: The Cost of Life, each player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti. Over the course of the game, the player must choose among and balance various goals, such as achieving education, making money, staying healthy, and maintaining happiness while encountering unexpected events like disease and hurricanes. The player must make many decisions that contribute to or detract from achieving his or her chosen goals. The game has been played over 600,000 times since it was released through partnerships with Unicef and TakingITglobal. The game is currently being evaluated by The Center for Children & Technology (CCT), a part of the Educational Development Center.

Digital Games for Social Change is a new movement that inspires the festival and poses people to observe the effects of new games as well as evaluate current games. Featured speakers at the 2007 festival included Bob Kerrey, President of the New School and former Nebraska Senator; Jeff Bell, corporate Vice President of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft Corp; Chris Melissions, Chief Gaming Officer at Sun Microsystems, Inc.; and Allison Fine, author of Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age and Senior fellow at Demos: A Network for Thinking and Action. In addition, Global Kids organized and led a panel of public high school students called Beyond Consumers-Teens and Serious Games.

Although this is the fourth year that the Game for Change festival has taken place, it was the first year that they presented awards. A “game for change” is a digital game, which engages a contemporary social issue to foster a more equitable, just and/or tolerant society. Criteria also included an evaluation of how the game reached new audiences, as well as a clear incorporation of both a meaningful content and the game mechanics.

About Global Kids, Inc. (www.globalkids.org)

Launched in 1989 but independent since 1993, Global Kids' mission is to transform urban youth into successful students and global and community leaders by engaging them in socially dynamic, content-rich learning experiences. Through its leadership development and academic enrichment programs, Global Kids educates youth about critical international and domestic issues and promotes their engagement in civic life and the democratic process. Through professional development initiatives, Global Kids provides educators with strategies for integrating experiential learning methods and international issues into urban classrooms. Over 85% of the high school seniors who participate in GK's leadership program graduate and attend college.

About the Global Kids Online Leadership Program (OLP)

Global Kids, Inc. is a nationally recognized leader in using digital media to promote global awareness and youth civic engagement. Global Kids’ Online Leadership Program (OLP) integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy, foster substantive online dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation. Currently, the OLP is accomplishing its goals through initiatives within four broader areas: the development of socially -conscious online games; youth-led online dialogues; Virtual Worlds; and the Digital Media Initiative.