Video Games for Good

The purpose of marketing is mostly to promote profit-making products and services.

So it’s refreshing to see advertising being used to bring attention to an organization that does good in the world, the best good there is, really – feeding hungry children.

Students in the class Video Games for Good are “hired” each year to create a fun video game that brings attention to the work of Feed My Starving Children. This Minnesota-based nonprofit is dedicated to providing nutritious meals to children worldwide.

Marley created what is called a clicker game. The overall goal is to reach $200,000 by using the space bar (clicker) and taking risks to get game upgrades, Marley said. “Once you get to $200,000.00 you’ve fed all the children in the world!” Lofty and admirable goal!

“I’ve played games like these and I generally enjoy them,” Marley said. “I’ve always been a pretty good gamer and I enjoy them and want to see how they’re made.”

Leo’s game features Scratch the Cat, an avatar in the game-making program. Scratch is a block-based visual programming language and online community that the students use to create their games.

“I have a lot of storylines in this game,” Leo said, “and there’s music.”

Leo demonstrated his game, which starts with a startling glitch. “Wait, there’s a glitch!” Scratch Cat declares as a blurred multi-colored square takes over the screen. Leo said one of his game testers was alarmed by the glitch and thought it was real. “One person was like, ‘Why’s there a glitch’?” he laughed.

But, never fear, “Scratch Cat is going to fix the game.”

The first part of the game requires players to find MannaPacks that are spread throughout various Scratch backgrounds, such as the polar bear scene. “MannaPacks are the food we packed at Feed My Starving Children,” Leo explained. “They have vitamins, vegetables, rice and soy.”

Leo enjoyed the class and learned valuable skills in addition to helping to feed children around the world. “It teaches a lot of problem solving and coding,” he said. Leo also learned perseverance. “If something is really hard, keep doing it until you figure it out.”

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