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Virtual disaster


SimCity computer games now include a Red Cross response

Imagine the city you live in is hit by a large meteor. Many people are injured and buildings are destroyed. This is the scenario that one SimCity player who goes by the name CPUTzar played out on a recent YouTube video upload, in which he showed how Red Cross vehicles in this urban simulation game are quickly deployed in response.

“Watch what happens when a natural disaster strikes,” he tells viewers of his video posting, a popular way for computer gamers to share and review games. “See all the Red Cross vehicles come out? There are little Red Cross vans checking the place out and they go and fix stuff and make everything better.”

In less than a minute, tents also begin to appear next to the Red Cross headquarters building and at other sites around the city. The response in game time is so rapid, even the most efficient branch manager would be envious. But the simulation does as it’s intended: it gives players of this popular urban development and planning game a chance to include Red Cross humanitarian response into their gaming environment.

At the same time, players who download this ‘module’ (software features that add new elements to computer games) also contribute to real-world humanitarian response. Roughly 80 per cent of the purchase price of the module goes to relief efforts of the National Society in the country where the game is purchased.

This game module marks the first time that National Societies from around the world have collaborated with a video game. This new gaming element is the result of a corporate partnership between the IFRC, 10 national societies and Electronic Arts — the world's leading video game producer — to mobilize resources and build Red Cross profile among new audiences.

Here’s how it works. Players can download emergency services content to access Red Cross relief centers for SU$ 10.50.  Eighty per cent of proceeds will benefit Red Cross National Societies in the 10 countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA) in which this downloadable content is now available. 

“Now, players of SimCity will be able to provide assistance to real people impacted by real-world natural disasters just like they do for their Sims in-game by purchasing and downloading Red Cross branded digital content,” according to statement by Electronic Arts.

The module includes a Red Cross relief centre, tents and two vehicles (all branded with the domestic National Society’s logo from the player’s country of origin), which will travel around a player’s city in response to a natural disaster.

When a meteor strikes, an earthquake occurs or a tornado touches down, Red Cross tents will appear in various locations throughout a player’s city. Sims (as the people in the game are known) that would otherwise have been critically injured are instead offered aid at the Red Cross relief tents.

As the city recovers from the natural disaster, the Red Cross tents will disappear. Each disappearing tent will then release 10 healthy Sims back into the player’s affected city. Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars will continue to protect a player’s city alongside the Red Cross services.

“Collaborating with the Red Cross is a small way for Electronic Arts to help others through our creative work,” the statement continues. “The content we created alongside the Red Cross not only gives aid to the Sims within our players’ cities, it also enables players to help real people who have suffered from disasters in the real world.”

“This will bring the Red Cross mission to the public and consumers in an exciting and interactive way while raising funds to support the work of the Red Cross to provide humanitarian services around the world,” says Neal Litvack, chief development officer at the American Red Cross.

This Red Cross set will be available for one year starting on 17 September 2013. Throughout this year-long campaign, Electronic Arts will give at least eighty per cent of the player’s payment (less applicable taxes) for the Red Cross downloadable content, with a minimum of US$ 100,000, to support humanitarian services of participating Red Cross National Societies.

Other links:

• IFRC news release

• Electronic arts news release

















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