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Online Game Developed by Minority Youth in Brooklyn Will Educate Thousands about Global Poverty and Education at theCostofLife.org.

In After School Program Conducted by Global Kids, Inc. and Gamelab, and Funded by Microsoft, Students Learn about Global Issues and Work with Professional Game Developers

NEW YORK -- Global Kids, Inc., the foremost nonprofit in New York City dedicated to educating urban youth about international affairs, and Gamelab, New York City's largest game development company, announce the release of the exciting online game, Ayiti: The Cost of Life (theCostofLife.org), at Microsoft's World Wide School of the Future Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Youth from the program and Global Kids Executive Director Carole Artigiani and Online Leadership Program Director Barry Joseph will be present at the Summit on Wednesday, November 15th. Mr. Joseph will be featured in a panel at 10:45 AM and the Ayiti: The Cost of Life game will also be distributed to Summit participants.

Ayiti: The Cost of Life uses the location of Haiti to educate players about the obstacles to education faced by children in developing countries. When distributed and used within either a classroom or after school setting, the game will be a strong tool for building students' global awareness and civic literacy. Microsoft's School of the Future is located at 4021 Parkside Avenue (corner of Parkside & Girard).

The concept of the game was developed by youth in Global Kids' Playing 4 Keeps (P4K) program and professionals from the award-winning game design studio Gamelab. Supported by Microsoft's U.S. Partners in Learning Mid-Tier Grants Initiative, which seeks to find and support "pockets of innovation" for increasing digital literacy and career readiness, the game will be free and also be published with lesson plans for educators through a UNICEF website Child Alert: Haiti (unicef.org/childalert/haiti/) and the educational network TakingITGlobal (takingitglobal.org).

"It can be difficult to teach critical global issues to youth who can sometimes feel that their everyday lives are far removed from things going on in remote places around the world," said Mary Cullinane, Director of Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning. "Global Kids' Playing 4 Keeps has found a way to use technology to bring these global issues to life in a truly engaging way. We are proud to support this innovative use of technology to make these issues more real for these young citizens."

Playing 4 Keeps engages a cohort of twenty-four students from South Shore High School, a largely minority school of approximately 2,300 students located in Canarsie, Brooklyn, in working with professional game developers in the design, development and dissemination of professionally-produced online games about important social issues. During the school year, program participants conducted research about global issues and gained digital literacy, leadership, and career skills. Students participated in workshops on such global issues as Defining Human Rights, Racism, Health, Education, and Children's Rights, and then selected an issue on which to focus the game.

With professionals from Gamelab, they learned about a range of issues related to game design as a form of critical media literacy as well as the game industry and the game development process. The students also took numerous field trips and spoke about their work at prestigious conferences, including the Game Design Conference in San Jose, the Games 4 Change Conference in New York City, and the Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington.

This year, participants chose to focus their game on the general topic of poverty as an obstacle to education, based on their learning about the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and about obstacles to receiving an adequate education that youth face around the world. They then decided to use Haiti as a case study and setting for the game. The youth have documented the process of creating the game in a blog at (holymeatballs.org/playing_4_keeps) and are publicizing it through (myspace.com/thecostoflife).

In Ayiti: The Cost of Life, each player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti. Over the course of the game, the player must choose among and balance various goals, such as achieving education, making money, staying healthy, and maintaining happiness while encountering unexpected events like disease and hurricanes. The player must make many decisions that contribute to or detract from achieving his or her chosen goals.

The game is designed as a serious learning tool that educators and youth workers can use in their classrooms. With its lesson plans, Ayiti: The Cost of Life, can educate players about poverty and its effects on education in general around the world, as well as about the effects of poverty on education in Haiti.

The educational effectiveness of the game is being evaluated by the Educational Development Corporation's Center for Children and Technology.

About Global Kids, Inc. (www.globalkids.org)

Founded in 1989, Global Kids' mission is to transform urban youth into successful students and global and community leaders by engaging them in socially dynamic, content-rich learning experiences. Through its leadership development and academic enrichment programs, Global Kids educates youth about critical international and domestic issues and promotes their engagement in civic life and the democratic process. Through professional development initiatives, Global Kids provides educators with strategies for integrating experiential learning methods and international issues into urban classrooms. Over 85% of the high school seniors who participate in GK's leadership program graduate and attend college.

About the Global Kids Online Leadership Program (OLP)

Global Kids, Inc. is a nationally recognized leader in using digital media to promote global awareness and youth civic engagement. Global Kids' Online Leadership Program (OLP) integrates a youth development approach and international and public policy issues into youth media programs that build digital literacy, foster substantive online dialogues, develop resources for educators, and promote civic participation. Currently, the OLP is accomplishing its goals through initiatives within three broader areas: the development of socially -conscious online games; youth-led online dialogues; and the Digital Media Initiative.

About Gamelab

Gamelab invents new ways for people to play. Founded in 2000 by Peter Lee and Eric Zimmerman, Gamelab is New York City's largest and longest-running game development company. Gamelab creates innovative games for broad audiences on and off the computer, from multiplayer online games to card and board games to museum installations and social games played by thousands in the real world. Our work has won many awards and has been exhibited internationally. Recently, Gamelab received a first-of-its-kind MacArthur grant with the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a 3-year research project on game design and media literacy.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 14, 2006
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