Bringing a Conflict Closer to Home
For me, Darfur is Dying really hit home because of my previous connection to the situation in Darfur. It isn't a very personal or close connection, but during my years in high school I did do some work raising money for this very conflict. I even wrote an article in the school paper that outlined our group's efforts and the conflict itself in order to raise awareness. I have spent a good deal of time researching the conflict and understand the horror that is occurring over in Darfur, so this game only reinforced what I already knew.
The interactive aspect of this game put me in the situation that I have been reading about for so long. This is why I think video games are such successful teaching tools. You can read all you want about Darfur, but until you are put in someone's shoes, acting out a hypothetical situation, you can't truly understand this conflict. In this game, you even have the opportunity to portray a child, which is something not all games allow you to do. There was a lot of freedom allowed in Darfur is Dying, which gives players the opportunity to learn as much as possible about this crisis in an interesting way.
Clark Boyd discusses this game in his article "Darfur activism meets video gaming" and gives evidence to my idea that the game is meant to inspire activism in college students. Boyd talked to mtvU, the company that started a contest to create a Darfur-themed game. He quotes mtvU's general manager Stephen Friedman saying, "The first part of activism is getting something under your skin, and having a personal identification with it, and the immediacy of playing a [video] game can often do that." The game was made for the purpose of getting students, who might not go and research the conflict on their own, to educate themselves. Living in the world we do today, games are extremely popular and are a perfect way to reach young people. Hopefully it will inspire students to make a change.