The Darfur Digital Activist Contest
brings together student activism, technology and the cachet of the MTV and Reebok brands. mtvU (the network's college student-targeted website) and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation are offering up to $50,000 for the development and marketing of a computer-based game designed to raise awareness and stop the genocide in Darfur. They have selected three student team finalists and voting is going on right now to select the winner.
The games include a child running to fetch water while dodging Janjaweed in jeeps, a Darfurian survivor returning to her burned out village while navigating threats to her survival, a simulation of a UN worker trying to keep rival tribes apart, and an action game in which the player works to disarm the Sudanese government infrastructure through nonviolence.
While I don't generally connect video games with reducing violence, this is a clever and creative way of engaging students through a medium with which they spend a lot of time. And MTV has turned over development of the product to the members of the target audience who know best what will be effective with their peers. It will be interesting to see whether the final game actually makes an impact in awareness. With $50,000 behind it and the promotional resources of the network, it could be quite successful.