Sunday, May 07, 2006

Darfur is Dying!


"A new online, interactive video game gives players a glimpse of what it's like to be a refugee in the Darfur region of Sudan. In "Darfur Is Dying," players take on the role of refugees searching for food, shelter and safety, while avoiding the wrath of the murderous Janjaweed militia."

University of Southern California graduate student Susana Ruiz, the game's creator, invented this game as part of her master thesis in order to educate kids and adults about Darfur, the struggle of the refugees there and to stir our consciences into taking action against the ongoing genocide.

My girls and I played it last night and boy, did we learn a thing or two! There are several avatars that one can use to play the game and I chose to be the 26-year old woman, Sittina. Sad to say, I never had a chance against the "Janjaweed" I was almost always caught by them. Women are such easy targets in the Darfur because they constantly have to venture out to collect firewood for their cooking or risk their kids starving to death. The Janjaweed are always on the look out for them waiting to catch and rape them. My daughter, N., took on the avatar of a 14-year old girl called Elham and although she wasn't so quick to be caught by the Janjaweed she wasn't able to collect as much firewood or water as an adult.

Click on the image below to play the game:

There are those that would say that this game makes a sport of Darfur and trivializes its cause, but I beg to differ - I think its goal which is to motivate players to take action and do something about the real world situation being depicted, will be very effective. Also, this game can be played "virally", in other words you can pass this around to your friends and contacts, spreading the word. So, please, click on the game, become aware and spread the awareness. Thanks!


Susan in Italy said...

WOw, that's really serious. I agree that something like this, where to play, you are required to take on the personality of another person, can help to raise awareness in the way that a newspaper doesn't seem to.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan!

Yes, exactly! The girls and I were playing it last night and it has made such a deep impression on them that my youngest wanted to pack up and rush to Sudan to help the refugees! :) A friend I was speaking to says she's uncomfortable about this game because she thinks it trivializes the situation - I don't think so, I think we need to present people important information via a media that arouses and holds their interest and if that happens to be a video game, so be it!

Thanks for your comment!

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Lotus, what I'm writing now has nothing to do with this post but I wondered if you wouldn't like to describe how your first day at the creative writing class came along. I'm sure we're excited to hear about it. love as always

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks for the interest, Susan! I will type something up before I sleep tonight.