Sarah Parsons

New Video Game Teaches Cambodian Kids How to Avoid Real Land Mines

by , 03/17/10

Landmine Lookout, Michigan State University, landmine video game, Cambodia, landmines in Cambodia, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, humanitarian design, unexploded landmines, UN

Instead of showing kids how to kill, a new video game instructs them on how to stay alive. A group of students and their professor at Michigan State University recently launched a video game that aims to teach children how to avoid unexploded land mines. The game, Landmine Lookout!, will be sent to Cambodia this month for testing, and hopefully will be implemented in other at-risk areas, too.

In the game, players navigate through the jungle in search of food for their cartoon pets. Along their journey, players are presented with “indicators,” warning signs that an undetected explosive might be nearby. If players can successfully avoid these dangerous areas, they find food and keep their virtual pets happy.

Developers hope that the video game will prove more successful than traditional means of land mine education like pamphlets and presentations, which have been largely ineffective. The UN estimates that 20,000 people each year are killed or injured by land mines. In a country like Cambodia which has suffered decades of civil wars, there could be millions of unexploded mines hidden under the soil.

The game is compatible with One Laptop Per Child computers, so implementing the game throughout developing nations should not pose a problem.  The group from MSU worked with Golden West Humanitarian Foundation to improve the game, and the project also received a $78,000 grant from US State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

+ Michigan State University

Via Popular Science

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