U.N. video game feeds the hungry

In "Food Force," players direct aid workers trying to help the poor in fictional war-torn island of Sehylan.

The jungle territory that hides lurking rebel forces makes it look like a shoot-'em-up adventure, but in this video game--from the U.N.'s food aid agency--the aim is to feed the masses rather than blow them away.

The United Nations World Food Programme, or WFP, hopes the game "Food Force," in which players direct aid workers trying to help the poor, will teach children about the problems of feeding the hungry, especially those trapped in war zones.

"So many parents complain about the blood and gratuitous violence that kids are so frequently exposed to in video games. This is a fun action-packed alternative," said WFP spokesman Neil Gallagher, launching the game on Thursday.

The game challenges players to get food into the fictional war-torn island of Sehylan--finding the hungry people, dropping aid from a helicopter, dealing with hostile forces and setting up "Sim City"-style farm projects for the future.

"Communicating with children today means using the latest technology," Gallagher said. "'Food Force' will generate kids' interest and understanding about hunger, which kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined."

The PC-based game can be downloaded for free from the Web Site www.food-force.com. A separate section called "How to help" tells children how to get involved in fundraising and community work.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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