United Nations Millennium Campaign Games on OLPC XO

   
   
   
   
   
olpc games
Did you see that?! UN MDG games!
Did you know that the United Nations Millennium Campaign, the UN program based on the Millennium Development Goal to "free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected" has teamed up with One Laptop Per Child to produce Millennium Campaign games for the OLPC XO?

That's right, the UN wants to:

  1. Educate young people on their human rights; safe environment, food, shelter, healthcare etc. promised to them in an agreement called the Millennium Development Goals
  2. Relate the message that governments promised to do all these things for them
  3. Empower young people to take tangible real world steps to ask their government to make their lives better
Via games on the "$100 laptop". Now don't those goals strike you as a little odd for a children's game? Like maybe a logic leap even for SimCity or Second Life on the OLPC? Lucky for us, Rikomatic has already thought out a few UN MDG 2015-centric games for the Children's Machine XO:
  • simDevelopment (A Resource Management Game) : The player takes the role of a UN country development coordinator shuffling a very limited set of human, material and natural resources in order to get food, shelter and jobs to people before they perish. You start off running Mexico and advance from there to Laos, then Kazakhstan and finally Sudan.
  • Lara Croft the Entrepreneur (Third Person Seller): You control Lara Croft, a village woman in a poor country attempting to provide for her family in a patriarchal society that doesn't value her intelligence or strength. She uses her wits, tireless energy and enormous breasts to build a successful business, while also supporting her family.
  • City of Humanitarian Aid Workers (MMORPG): In this online game, you choose a super-humanitarian power like "skilled negotiator with corrupt officials," "ability to make a little go a long way," and "strength of unquenchable optimism." Then you don the uniform of UNICEF, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders or the Peace Corps (variations on jeans and logo'ed tee-shirts). Gamers face hordes of homeless refugees, hungry street urchins, and armed militias, armed with MREs, tents, and good intent.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 2007 (First Person Playa): Basically the same game as the original except every time Larry has unprotected sex he contracts a horrible disease.
Now don't get Rikomatic wrong, he doesn't mean to disparage the effort, but like I, he has a hard time getting his head around a game that could be fun and meet the lofty goals of the Millennium Campaign.

olpc kye games
Kye for the OLPC

While we're wondering, Chris Ball is coding. He has "Sugarized" Kye, a puzzle game of objects with their own different behaviors by Colin Phipps.

Better yet, two game designers won OLPC XO's in the Game Developers Challenge: NinjaBoy John and Thomas Draper. While they are not yet sharing their Children's Machine XO game designs with us, I still have hope we'll see Oregon Trail on the green machine soon enough.

No, it doesn't hone to the MDG 2015 goals, nor does Kye, but its time to let kids be kids and have innocent games for play. Let parents be the ones to play power games with people's poverty stricken lives.

And you want to help OLPC directly, try helping SJ Klein make game development easier for the Children's Machine XO for current and future game developers, contribute to the OLPC Wiki.

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2 Comments

Thanks for the mention!

Note that the UN Millennium Campaign has also launched a wiki to help them to brainstorm about games related to the Millennium Goals for the OLPC. Check out http://wiki.millenniumcampaign.org/olpc

"That's right, the UN wants to:

Educate young people on their human rights; safe environment, food, shelter, healthcare etc. promised to them in an agreement called the Millennium Development Goals
Relate the message that governments promised to do all these things for them
Empower young people to take tangible real world steps to ask their government to make their lives better"

This hints at what I have been saying for a while. A key possible danger for oplc is that, as networked computers whole villages can use to organize, it is possible developing world governments will see it as a political threat and halt implimentation of the oplc project.

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