Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gaming + Activism: Darfur is Dying

AP's youth news organization ASAP has a very fascinating story on "Darfur is Dying." It's a video game based on the real-life Sudan region in which 250,000 refugees have been slaughtered by Janjaweed militiamen. Players manage their refugee camp in which death is a stark reality and survival is the goal.

From the article:
The game can be passed from friend to friend via e-mail, helping spread the message about what's going on in Darfur. And while playing the game, agitated gamers can send a letter to the president or a local legislator urging them to take action -- a move that automatically improves the "health" of the player's virtual camp, increasing his or her chance of survival.

"Any tool, any game, any video, anything that gets one more person involved in opposing the Darfur genocide makes a contribution," said New York Rep. Steve Israel, who recently hosted an online town forum on Darfur. "And if this game helps a single person raise his or her voice, then 3 million people in refugee camps have at least some hope."

I tried to play the game for a bit. It was depressing, because there is no way to forget that such a lifestyle is reality in some distant country. But it IS a new way to spread awareness, and I firmly believe that awareness is the first step if any cause is to have hope.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Updated Star Wars: New Republic character blog

I have begun a blog for my Star Wars character over at LiveJournal. This is just a little exersize to get me thinking like my character.

Chissa Noana is a green-skinned, dark-haired Mikoan. There's not a whole lot of cannon on the planet Miko or Mikoan culture, according to the Wookiepedia, so I will attempt to build an entire culture for my character.

Chissa has a snug place in the lives of some New Republic celebrities. She was the daughter of a governor and mercenary woman known as the Watcher. At a young age she was shuttled off her homeworld to study the art of political leadership. At this school she became freinds with Mon Mothma's daughter, Leida. Not long after leaving home, Miko was brutally taken over by the Empire. Freeing Miko has become Leida and Chissa's true cause.

But the friendship is rocky now. Chissa is working with a Bothan senator (Fey'lya, who happens to be indebted to the Watcher) who has promised he will work towards getting New Republic troops to free Miko. But this senator is a political enemy of Mon Mothma and her cabinet. Chissa is motivated by goodness, but she's a politician at heart, and this was her first backstab. The first of many, perhaps? Dun dun DUN!

This game will likely be short and whatever stunts Chissa will pull in it may be minor. But I'm proud of having a non-Jedi concept that has captured my imagination. That is mostly thanks to the gentle prodding of my esteemed storyteller. He has the hard job of building a little world for us to play in, and a plot to follow, and NPCs with character. It is a far more daunting task than mine, which is to build one single character.

There is an art to roleplaying and storytelling. Games are essentially interactive stories. It occurs to me now that though I spend a lot of hard-earned cash on my media (books, movies, games, music), the best by far is free. It's the people that make the difference.