>As a former student of Michigan State University, I feel obligated to post this. It might be a little bit out of the ordinary from the other gaming news I post, but I feel as if it’s pretty cool and deserves a post.
Every year upwards of 20,000 lives are lost in war-torn countries due to unexploded ordinance such as land mines. Can a video game educate children about land mine avoidance where traditional methods have failed?
That’s the hope of Corey Bohil, a visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Telecommunication and project lead on Undercover UXO. Undercover UXO is a simple computer game that sees players navigating a pet through a maze in order to find food. Throughout the maze are the telltale warning signs of unexploded ordinance – dead cattle, disturbed ground, and the shells of burnt-out vehicles – which the player must report to a local inspector lest they risk losing their pet.
“The goal of the project is to teach children in Cambodia and other at-risk areas to recognize and avoid unexploded ordnance,” said Corey Bohil. “If the player recognizes the indicators and avoids them, then the pet finds the food and everyone is happy.”
The project began life as a student project in a class taught by Bohil called “Collaborative Game Design.” The motivation behind the game’s development were shocking statistics from the United Nations Mine Action Service, which estimates annual unexploded ordinance related deaths at around 20,000, along with the failure of traditional teaching methods.
“For years the local communities would try to teach people how to avoid landmines,” Bohil said. “They would have presentations made to community elders, publish booklets, and nothing would work.”