Darfur is Dying (a simulation)

Monday, May 1st, 2006

A new online game was introduced at the Save Darfur rally held yesterday on the Mall in Washington, DC. It is called Darfur is Dying (Washington Post 5/1/06) and was created by University of Southern California students as part of a “games for change” movement. It is available for free at www.darfurisdying.com  Sponsored by Reebok and MTVu, it is aimed at college age students. Obviously, it is far too soon to tell if this will heighten awareness of the crisis or prompt people to take some action. Nevertheless, I applaud the designers and the sponsors for their creative approach to getting people’s attention.

Too often we try to get people’s attention through facts and figures in written documents. That is a bad approach with college students since I doubt that few read much outside of required course work. The game does two important things: Darfur is Dying uses media that is already popular with college students, and it engages them as only games can do. {Print and broadcast media can’t get people involved in the same way.)

You might ask what media do people in your organization use and how do they use it? Do they read lengthy documents? PowerPoint reports? Listen to podcasts? Watch DVDs? Play games? Like to talk? Marshal McLuhan was partially right in saying that the medium is the message. I would adapt that to say that the medium pulls people in (or repels them), and, once invited in, presents the message in a way that the audience can understand.