DFID’s attempt at an educational arcade game


The Roving Bandit sent me this link for DFID’s Race Against Global Poverty internet game. It is one of several mini games that DFID is using to educate children about their work on poverty.

The game invites players to drive around various environments, from dusty battlegrounds to lush tropical forests, delivering humanitarian aid out of the back of your large white 4×4 (with the Union Jack triumphantly displayed on the side).


You can drop off things like water, tents, medical supplies, but only get points for giving people what they need. How do you know what they need? Well, the game sort of tells you:

“This village is thirsty, cold and sick” = “Give us water, blankets, and medicine.” Not exactly brain surgery, is it?

As far as development-oriented games go (sadly, this isn’t the first) I suppose this is a decent attempt, but I’m worried about what sort of lessons this is trying to convey: That aid is easy? That it’s driven by basic needs? When I worked for the government of Malawi, I remember that dealing with foreign aid meant lots of sitting in long meetings, not driving around looking for giant crosses to drop food on.

If you were to design a development/aid oriented video game, what would it beĀ  (aside from a wrestling/fighting game that featured a royal rumble cage match between Jeffrey Sachs, Bill Easterly, and Paul Collier)?