Playing 4 Keeps

[blog] The New Media Literacies Project on Ayiti 

I was checking out one of Henry Jenkin's projects, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, when I was delighted to come across a blog entry, on their New Media Literacies Project site, entitled, "The Cost of Life? Expensive".

The excellent piece began with a reflection on our summer camp in Second Life but quickly expands into an excellent analysis of the game, which conclude: It is a fairly amazing feat to generate such a strong feeling of sympathy and responsibility in a short web-based game. It will be, I suspect, a valuable tool for classroom learning, as well as personal reflection.

Read it all at: or below

I was reading a post by Barry Joseph to the new Macarthur Spotlight blog, which tracks news about crossovers between digital media and learning. The post itself is rather interesting, an attempt to distill what was learned from a kind of global summer camp held in virtual world Second Life into a list of best practices for virtual education initiatives. Definitely check it out.

[blog] Best Succint Description of Ayiti 

Dani, at her blog Straddling the Century Line, has written one of our favorite descriptions yet of our game, Ayiti:

[tv] ABC News Includes Ayiti in Coverage of Serious Games 

ABC News aired a piece on serious games in which they interviewed Catherine from Gamelab and showed footage and spoke about our game, Ayiti: the Cost of Life.

Click here to view the piece.

Here are some photos:

[p4k] January usage numbers on Ayiti 

In January, 115,600 unique people played the game, spending on average of 9.5 minutes. On it's most popular day, nearly 16,000 people played the game. 11.96% of all traffic came from Norway. 89.11% of the U.S. traffic came from California.

Below is map showing usage across the U.S.:

[blog] Global Teens Strategize Ayiti 

A discussion thread from UNICEF's Voices of Youth site has popped up which revolves around sharing winning Ayiti strategies.

One poster, brings up some interesting strategy ideas:

  1. Send the parents to vocational school as soon as possible
  2. Buy medicine, but should you buy it when everyone is sick or in order to keep them from getting sick? I haven't been able to determine yet..
  3. Buy books, but should you buy them more than once? It seems to have no effect...
  4. Send everyone to work if you can.
  5. Switch to the poor living standards ASAP.

To read the entire forum thread, click here.

[blog] Seymour High School blogs about Ayiti 

Brandt Schneider's high school class was asked to play and blog about Ayiti. Here's what they had to say:

Genevieve's post:

I have always believed that interaction is the best way to learn things. This allows for the point you are trying to put across to be understood greater. My belief is shown in the Ayiti game. It not only allowed for and intgeraction of what they had to deal with but it put you in charge of dealing with the problems and trying to live a life if you lived in that area.

Lena's post:
I agree that in schools that we should use education games just like pilots use flight stilulations. After playing the game Ayiti, I learned about the poverty and how difficult it is to live and have a family in Haiti. Some might say that this game can eliminate a worksheet, but I think that there is a point were we need to have some sort of worksheet because we didn't learn about specific facts. The worksheet could be on the computer.

The recent issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, one of the most important publications for those in the world of foundations, just published an excellent article on the emergence of Games for Change. To our delight, Global Kids work was referenced throughout. Below are some highlights:

Our Playing 4 Keeps program:

International Issues

One of the first nonprofit groups to enter the world of electronic gaming was Global Kids.

The organization, which has worked for more than 20 years to improve academic performance in troubled New York public schools, started developing digital games three years ago. The charity's games have been used to educate teenagers in the city and elsewhere about international issues and to encourage them to get involved in civic projects.

After seeing a prototype of a Global Kids game, Microsoft gave the organization $500,000 for an after-school program in which teenagers work with professional designers to develop games about social issues.

Their first game, released in November, is called Ayiti: The Cost of Life. Made in cooperation with Gamelab, a New York company that develops video games, it is available on Unicef's Web site.

[web] Gaming sites around world feature Ayiti 

Gaming sites have begun to feature Ayiti amongst their regular casual game offerings. At first, the game attracted the most attention due to its social content. Now, it is being placed alongside games entitled: "Britney Baby Dash" and "Fashion Dress Up" - which means we are reaching youth when they are just looking to have fun, potentially reaching the uninitiated.

Interestingly enough, currently 10% of the game's traffic is coming from Norway!

Below are some of the sites Ayiti has been mentioned.




The Associated Press mentioned Ayiti in an article entitled, "Developers build video games as tool for political commentary." The article was then picked up by a number of major publications, such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, International Herald Tribune, USA Today, Forbes, and Businessweek.

Specially about our game, they said, "[Some games] hope to give gamers a better feel for the plight of the poor. New York-based gameLab created "Ayiti: The Cost of Life," which challenges players to guide a family of five as they struggle to survive amid poverty in rural Haiti. "Poverty is an obstacle to global human rights," said Peter Lee, gameLab's co-founder. "We made a game where you have to go through a very rough life, and we made the game hard on purpose."

[p4k] P4K Youth Leaders Pick the New Game Topic 

During last Friday's mini-conference, the teens learned all about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and focused on health, racism/prejudice, children's rights, and education. After learning more about the issues, they decided on the general topic for the year, in a unanimous vote: racism/prejudice.

What might that look like as a game? Come back in a few months to find out! A few educational goals they might address, as developed by the teens, are:
- educate others to be tolerant and open minded
- teach others that racism still exists
- gang violence and how racism, specifically internalized racism, plays a role