Playing 4 Keeps

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

[p4k] What We Did in P4K Today 

Today we had a mini-conference during regents week. The youth leaders were willing to come back to school during their break and spend the afternoon learning more about how to use Second Life.

First we asked the teens to blog answers to the following questions:

1) What do you like so far about P4K?
2) What would you like to improve or change?
3) What do you want to learn in SL today?

Then the teens came up with the following list of things they wanted to learn today:
- How to teleport
- How to build
- How to get more items
- How to make or get clothes
- How to shoot a gun
- How to communicate

We then put out a call to all Global Kids friends and a dozen or so teleported over to the sandbox on GK island - from England, from Finland, from our machinima program in Queens - and spent two hours helping the P4K teens out. So each P4K student had at least once, and at times two, assistants from the TSL communities. We could not have done it without them! By the end of the day, the teens had each learned the goals they had set for the day (except for learning how to shoot the gun - not allowed on GK island!)

[p4k/teen] About p4k 

1) I like that we talk and make games about global issues, like Ayiti The Cost of Life.

2) I would change the computers because they are really slow, and we don't spend a lot of time on Second Life.

3) I want to know how to get clothes and cars.

[p4k/teen] What I think 

1. I like p4k because we get to meet other young people and talk about global issue, as in other things in the world.
2. I would improve the connection to online, food and computer.
3. I want to learn how to get rare items and more clothing.

[p4k/teen] Hola back 

1) What i like about p4k is going on the computer and playing games.

2) Well I would improve the amount of time we have on the computer. The thing I don't like about p4k is that the trainers talk too much and we don't get a lot of time to play. Instead of talking, how about the trainers play the games with us.

3) I want to know how to shoot my gun again.

[p4k/teen] Bugs Bunny a.k.a What i like 

I like playing 4 keeps because it gives me a chance to meet new people and help my community. I also like playing 4 keeps because it gives me a new insight to things I've never seen before.

If I was to improve anything in playing 4 keeps, it would be the computers. They are too slow and they tend to freeze a lot. I wouldn't want to add anything else because it's perfect the way it is.

I want to learn how to make a usable objects such as a car.

[p4k/teen] My answers to the questions 

1) I like the way we come up with different issues. It can be health or even violence in the media. We get to speak our minds about a game or subject and also get to act out some of these issues. I also like the way we come up with different topics that we think people would like or even think is important to them, ways we can make our community better basically by building a game or talking about it or even coming up with a solution to the problem.

2) Something I can improve is my communication skills. Also, taking action to address problems and getting more people involve with the problem, even through they don't really care, make them listen so the kids can pass it on.

3) I want to learn about how to basically use second life and how to communicate with people inside of the game and learning about different games.