Gaming For a Cause, Poverty-Based Simulation Games Raise AwarenessSimulation-based games have introduced a new realm of possibilities for video game creators, from surgeon simulators to first-person shooting programs. Some creators have decided to use this trend to garner empathy and attention for the important issue of global poverty. Despite 10% of the world living in extreme poverty, sympathy can be difficult for some to experience when they are not aware of the circumstances those living in extreme poverty face day-to-day. As such, simulation games are key to raising awareness and catalyzing change. Some creators have begun to take on the gut-wrenching task of creating poverty-based simulation games meant to simulate the experience of living in extreme poverty.


“It’s just stuff. Until you don’t have it.” The ominous slogan on the beginning page of SPENT perfectly encapsulates the accidental ungratefulness that so many people who live comfortably feel. SPENT spotlights this luckiness for being able to go to a healthcare clinic or afford the rent by forcing players to experience extreme poverty. SPENT gives players $1,000 and 30 days to survive while making necessary purchases such as healthcare and rent. Although this sounds simple, it is anything but. Players must turn down concerts, miss bill deadlines and rely on friends for money. This sheds light on the physical and emotional toll that poverty has on people and how necessary donations are to their well-being.

This poverty-based game was a partnership project between McKinney Advertising Agencies and the Urban Ministries of Durham. SPENT has been played more than four million times in more than 218 countries. At the end of the game, a pop-up reminds players that the hardships they faced in the game are a reality for millions, prompting them to donate through the site. In its first 10 months, SPENT raised $45,000 from 25,000 new donors.


Survive125 is a poverty-based game centered around an impoverished woman, Divya Patel, who lives in India with her four children and a daily salary of $1.25. Players control her life by making impossible decisions such as, “Should you send your teenage daughter to work at a factory (whose potential employer might be a sex trafficker) in order to earn more money?” or, “Should you pull your son out of school every three days in order to get the nearest clean water, which is four hours away?”

Millions of people living in extreme poverty face these questions every day. Each time players answer a question, they lose or gain money and points. The goal is to survive 30 days without running out of money or points. Live 58, a nonprofit organization working to end global poverty, developed this simulation. Live 58 is comprised of 10 charities that work to end global poverty by raising awareness through projects such as the game Survive125. While Survive125 doesn’t have a donation component or statistics, it is making an impact by raising awareness and giving people the opportunity to walk a mile in Divya Patel’s shoes.

This War of Mine

This War of Mine may be a war game, but it starkly differs from its counterparts in one main aspect: the perspective. While most war games such as Call of Duty focus on a heavily militant and violent storyline from the point of view of a soldier, This War of Mine revolves around impoverished civilians in war-torn countries fighting to survive. This poverty-based game simulates an all too common situation in which war impacts innocent children and citizens. Characters search for food, shelter, medical help and safety from bombs, introducing a new angle not seen in war games.

Another interesting take in this game is the idea of mood as a surviving factor; if a character becomes depressed, their work slows, and they suffer negative effects. This factor of depression is prominent in stressful environments such as in a country impacted by war but is often overlooked in mental health care.

Along with raising awareness, the creators of the game, 11 Bit Studios, partnered with War Child, a British organization that helps children in areas of conflict, to raise donations. Through this partnership, they created downloadable content by utilizing the art of graffiti artists who created war-themed artwork. All of the proceeds from the third of these poverty-based simulation games went directly to War Child, ultimately adding up to $500,000 as of 2018. The donation went toward war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. The proceeds support different projects, notably temporary learning centers, a child helpline and a division of War Child that works specifically with gamers.

Fighting to End Extreme Poverty

In a world where technology replaces human connection, games that remind people of empathy can bridge the gap created by a technological world. New methods, like poverty-based simulation games, appeal to large demographics and rekindle the spirit of generosity in a unique way.

– Mariam Abaza
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the World Bank
Since 1944, the World Bank has built a massive global partnership with two major goals fueling its work. It is working to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to increase the poorest population’s share of national wealth in each country.

Below are 10 facts about the World Bank:

  1. The World Bank is just what its name says: a bank, albeit on a larger scale. Providing loans, knowledge and guidance, the organization works with governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and regional development banks.
  2. The organization was started over 70 years ago and was first called The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Originally the organization worked to improve conditions in countries devastated by World War II, but this quickly evolved into efforts to end global poverty once and for all.
  3. There are now 189 countries who are members of the World Bank Group. This means only seven countries in the world are not members of the institution. The leading members of the Group are the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and the U.K.
  4. The World Bank consists of five organizations: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The International Development Association, The International Finance Corporation, The Multilateral Guarantee Agency and The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
  5. In 2015, the organization made 302 global commitments totaling $60 billion.
  6. So where does this money come from? The World Bank is backed by subscriptions paid by its member countries, bond flotations (money made from issuing new securities and expenses) from international markets and earnings from its own assets.
  7. The World Bank attributes much of its success to its diverse staff of economists, professionals in public policy and social scientists.
  8. The organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but today more than one-third of its staff are located in individualized country offices.
  9. Four issues that the World Bank has identified as standing before its goals are as follows: access to schools, healthcare, electricity and safe water.
  10. The World Bank’s impact is visible. In 2013, an estimated 10.7 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Though this is nowhere near a stopping point, it is less than half of the percentage estimated in 1990.

These 10 facts about the World Bank illustrate its mission and actions that are making dramatic changes internationally. The organization has a new goal of ending global poverty by 2030 by lowering the number of people who make less than $1.90 a day to three percent.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

The World Bank has created the Africa Climate Plan to alleviate extreme poverty caused by climate change. Titled “Accelerating Climate-Resilient and Low-Carbon Development”, the plan was presented at COP21, the global climate talks in Paris, on November 30. According to The World Bank, the plan hopes to boost renewable energy options and strengthen early warning systems, so as to better equip countries to deal with the destructive effects of climate change.

According to The World Bank, the Africa Climate Plan hopes to boost renewable energy options and strengthen early warning systems, so as to better equip countries to deal with the destructive effects of climate change.

These effects include higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and weather-related disasters, all of which pose a threat to agriculture, water sources and more.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to climate shocks, and our research shows that could have far-ranging impact — on everything from child stunting and malaria to food price increases and droughts,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

In regards to climate change and its effects on developing countries, the World Bank Group and partners have created the Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20), which includes twenty nations whose future development may be stunted by climate change.

The list of V20 members: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

In addition to Africa, The World Bank has announced a funding plan for South Asia regarding climate change. The recently  released initiative will attempt to raise $3.8 million for the prevention of natural disasters in Bhutan and South Asia through a new weather and disaster improvement project.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, V-20, World Bank 3
Photo: Flickr

As the world turns its focus toward the home stretch of ending the likes of world hunger and preventable diseases, eradicating extreme poverty also lands on the agenda. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty will reach an all-time low of less than 10 percent by the end of this year.

However, as great as this news is, millions are still suffering, and it is important to remember the end goal of completely eradicating extreme poverty, both through what has been proven to work and new innovations.

Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank said that “this is the best story in the world today, these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty.”

Knowing this, it is so important to take these findings and act on the opportunity; now is not the time to relax. According to the World Bank, 702 million people (or 9.6 percent of the world) will still be living below the poverty line. Most of these people currently live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

But the progress can be clearly seen when compared with past numbers. In 2012, 902 million people (or 13 percent) still lived in poverty, and that number was higher still at 29 percent in 1999. Since the pledge made by the leaders of the world 15 years ago, more than one billion people have been lifted out of poverty.

Kim believes this steady decline has occurred thanks to a combination of economic growth in developing countries as well as more countries investing in their health and education systems. Resiliency among communities has also been increased through societal safety nets, which help to prevent people from falling back into poverty.

As mentioned above, the work is not over as long as one person still lives in poverty. The world and organizations focused on poverty need to continue to be proactive if they want to be able to completely eradicate extreme poverty.

As Kim says, “This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: Al Jazeera 1, Al Jazeera 2, World Bank
Photo: Christianity Today

Feed_the_FutureA Nov. 5 event on Capital Hill co-hosted by NGO alliance InterAction announced the progress of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

In 2014 alone, the organization reportedly reached nearly 19 million households and helped nearly seven million farmers gain access to new tools and technologies.

New data demonstrates that through Feed the Future and other U.S. government efforts, childhood stunting rates have declined in Ethiopia, Ghana and parts of Kenya. These rates have dropped between 9 and 33 percent in recent years while areas in Uganda have seen a 16 percent drop in poverty.

In Honduras, Feed the Future is helping to reduce both poverty and stunting for its program participants.

Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the organization is working towards pioneering a comprehensive approach to ending hunger and creating global change. Feed the Future draws on the resources and expertise of 10 other U.S. government partners.

The organization currently focuses on small farm holders, particularly women, across 19 countries globally.

“Through Feed the Future, the United States is partnering across borders and across sectors to unlock the transformative potential of agriculture,” Eric Postel, the Associate Administrator for USAID, said.

“This global effort is empowering rural farming families to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger, and the results are clear. From Asia to the Caribbean to Africa, Feed the Future is helping raise crop yields and incomes, reduce stunting and poverty, and improve child nutrition.”

With nearly 800 million people suffering from chronic hunger, and with the world’s population projected to increase to more than nine billion by 2050, ensuring that everyone has enough nutritious food to eat will require a 60 percent increase in agricultural production without adversely affecting the environment.

According to Postel, “Going forward, USAID and our partners will continue working to ensure everyone has the nutritious food they need to lead full, healthy lives.”

Kara Buckley

Sources: Feed the Future 1, Feed the Future 2, USAID
Photo: Flickr

16293336246_8e162323ad_kAlthough we are close to completely eradicating extreme poverty, the goal has not quite yet been met. Limited access to education or dropping out due to extreme poverty is too common of an occurrence.

According to a report by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, in Sudan alone, 3,000,000 children between the ages of 5 and 13 are not receiving an education. Children in poverty are 15 times more likely to never attend or drop out of school when compared to their richer counterparts.

Twelve-year-old Awad Ahmed dropped out of school in seventh grade in order to wash cars on the streets of Khartoum in Sudan. Awad did not drop out because he wanted to — he still dreams that one day he can become a doctor.

However, Awad’s father passed away two years ago, and there is no one to help his mother support him and his two little sisters.

On his situation and drop out, Awad told reporters from Aljazeera that his “father passed away two years ago. [He] is the man of the house now. Who will provide food but me?” Unfortunately, Awad’s story is far from uncommon.

Many of the children who were once able to attend school, dropped out because of issues caused by the extreme poverty in which they live.

Many families in poverty cannot afford to prioritize the costs associated with sending their child or children to school; for instance, school fees, uniforms and transportation. Going to school is simply not a priority or even an option when a family hardly has enough food on the table.

More often than not, in conjunction with school expenses, parents just cannot afford to lose the help on the farm or sending their children to do enforced work every day in order to help support the family.

The cycle of poverty also comes into play here. Children with uneducated parents at home, who were unable to attend or finish school themselves because of poverty, are also less likely to get or complete their education.


In addition, the plight of girls trying to get an education is especially bleak. Because of societal roles and gender discrimination, many girls’ parents do not even think of sending their female child to school.

In many of these communities, it is more important that a young girl learns to be a proper wife. Also, girls are often forced to marry young, never having the opportunity to be empowered to become more through education.

Girls account for more than 54 percent of the children not attending school worldwide. But in places similar to Sudan, such as Yemen, that number skyrockets to 80 percent.

UNICEF is supporting the governments of developing countries, such as Sudan, in their attempt to promote and execute initiatives to get kids to attend school and to encourage those who have dropped out to return.

These programs are being implemented on both the state and community level, all the way down to every single individual household.

UNICEF continues to play an active role in helping to rehabilitate current schools, build new ones and provide learning materials, recreation and tablets to children who live a nomadic lifestyle. UNICEF is also a huge advocate for free education for all children.

Both UNICEF and the government are focusing on implementing annual back-to-school campaigns to encourage enrollment and lower dropout rates.

These campaigns will target states with the lowest enrollment through a door-to-door approach. They literally want to go home to home, encouraging and helping families to enroll their children for school.

Allison Parker, UNICEF’s head of communications in Sudan, says it best when she urges to Al Jazeera that “it is important to allocate more resources to the states and localities to implement education development plans and to ensure the effective implementation of existing education policies, especially free education.”

Every child, worldwide, deserves the chance at an education and a better life because of it.

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: Al Jazeera, Middle East & North Africa Out-Of-School Children Initiative 1, Humanium, Middle East & North Africa Out-Of-School Children Initiative 2
Photo: Flickr1, Flickr2

global poverty lineForecast released by the World Bank on Oct. 4, 2015 demonstrates this year global poverty will be at 702 million people, which is only 9.6 percent of the global population.

Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, at the Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru stated, “This is the best story in the world today – these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty.”

The research brief, Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies, proves that the World Bank is making progress toward the two goals set in April 2013: to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity by raising the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population.

The Bank updated the international poverty line to U.S. $1.90 per day from the previous 2005 statistic of U.S. $1.25 per day in order to reflect the increased cost of basic food, clothing and shelter needs of the poorest around the world.

Using the new global poverty line, the World Bank displayed the decrease in the impoverished population globally from 2012 to present: 902 million people or 12.8 percent of the global population to 702 million people or 9.6 percent of the global population in 2015.

In sub-Saharan African, poverty fell from 42.6 percent in 2012 to predicted 35.2 percent in 2015. Within those same three years, poverty in East Asia and the Pacific would fall from 7.2 percent to 4.1 percent. In South Asia, poverty is predicted to fall from 18.8 percent to 13.5 percent. And finally, in Latin America and the Caribbean poverty would decrease from 6.2 percent to 5.6 percent.

The sub-Saharan region now accounts for half of the global improvised population, whereas in 1990 half of the impoverished population was located in East Asia. According to the World Bank Group, the shift is the result of the prevalence of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa and the dependency on commodity exports.

“This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty,” added Kim.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: World Bank 1, World Bank 2, The Manila Times
Photo: No Limit Learning

Extreme poverty and poor health conditions are inextricably linked. According to the World Health Organization, about 1.2 billion people worldwide are currently living on less than $1 a day, which places them in the extreme poverty category.

This is why it is important to tackle the causes of poor health, which will in turn help to drastically improve poverty levels and vice versa.

In developing areas of the world, poverty increases people’s chances of getting sick due to poor nutrition, overcrowding and a lack of clean water. Some people are forced to put themselves into dangerous, health-hazardous situations in order to provide for and keep their families safe.

On the flip side, poor health causes an increase in poverty when a family loses a source of income due to an inability to work, perhaps causing them to sell assets such as livestock or equipment and tools essential to their work.

This will significantly decrease a family’s ability to fight poverty, especially during times of extreme political, economic or natural shocks.

In order to combat and tackle both issues at once, which will significantly reduce the prevalence of both extreme poverty and poor health conditions, Health Poverty Action, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting both poverty and poor health, suggests several things:

1. Aid should be more long term and have a stable, predictable structure. When tackling health concerns, the focus should be on improving the country’s health system and not just on one specific disease.

2. There is a need for more health workers to be trained in their own countries and to stay where they are most needed. Wealthier countries should avoid taking away sorely needed health professionals.

3. Emphasis needs to be placed on prioritizing health and reasonable global health coverage.

4. Issues such as nutrition, education, clean water and sanitation much be addressed.

5. It is important that there be affordable, easy access to a variety of medicine for the poor.

All around the world, organizations like Health Poverty Action are already enacting change.

Along the border between China and Burma, there is a high risk of malaria infection. Health Poverty Action is giving communities their access to treatments and prevention. A similar story is true of TB in Cambodia and HIV in South Omo, Ethiopia.

The poverty rate has been steadily decreasing but it is time for the world to take the next big steps as one. By implementing initiatives to address the points above, we have a true shot at ending global poverty and poor health conditions.

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: Health Poverty Action 1, Health Poverty Action 2, World Health Organization, Inequality Watch
Photo: Pixabay

While world leaders have agreed to end global poverty by 2030, more than 200 million people worldwide will be trapped unnecessarily by income inequality unless governments find solutions.

Oxfam, an international organization that works to find solutions for poverty have reported that income inequality will continue to increase with the addition of the newly approved Sustainable Development Goals.

Research conducted by the Overseas Development Institute found that 79 percent of people in developing countries live in a nation where the incomes of the bottom 40 percent grew slower than the average during the period of the Millennial Development Goals.

The slow growth of income is due to the richest one percent’s fast earning potential. If trends continue, the richest one percent will own more wealth than the rest of the world’s population combined.

“Wealth does not automatically trickle down to those who need it most. It’s up to politicians to ensure everyone gets a fair share of the benefits of growth,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

While the past 15 years have seen the fastest reduction of poverty in human history, world leaders must act.

Some solutions to income inequality include:

  • Fair Taxes: Rules must be enacted to ensure everyone, including rich and multi-billion dollar corporations, pay their fair share.
  • Invest: Money used in unfair and broken tax systems should be invested toward health care, schools and public transportation to significantly change the lives of the world’s poor.
  • Fair Pay: People who work hard should have fair pay no matter what gender. This could give people a chance for the world’s poor to escape poverty when on the same playing field.
  • Financial Resources: People have the right to understand how to save and invest money wisely. Through financial mentors, the world’s poor can learn how to eventually become part of the world’s middle class.

Through government actions and the eradication of income inequality, the Sustainable Development Goals have a better shot of completion by 2030.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: InfoZine, OxFam, Voice of America
Photo: Wikemedia

3.9 billion people around the world do not have access to the Internet, a necessity most take for granted. Since the Internet has become a crucial part of daily life and a constant source of communication, what if the entire world were connected?

Usually, most people do not realize how essential technology and the Internet have impacted society until they really think about it.

What would people do without their iPhones at their beck and call? The world of technology has completely changed how society stays connected with one another.

Since global connectivity is essential, the United Nations have agreed to connect underdeveloped countries to the world of the Internet by 2020.

Supporters of the UN’s decision include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bono and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

During the UN’s September summit, Zuckerberg discussed how Internet access is the key to ending extreme poverty. “When communities are connected, we can lift them out of poverty,” he said. “We can and must do more,” said Zuckerberg.

Currently, the lowest levels of Internet access are found in sub-Saharan Africa, where Internet access is available to less than 2 percent of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea.

To do more, Zuckerberg and Facebook have created a free mobile application called Free Basics, launched in May 2015.

“This is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the value of the internet, and that we hope to add value to their lives. These websites are very simple and data-efficient, so operators can offer these for free in an economically sustainable way. Web sites do not pay to be included, and operators don’t charge developers for the data people use their services,” said Facebook in a statement.

With access to the Internet, there are vast possibilities when it comes to ending extreme poverty and improving the lives of those living in unfavorable conditions:

  • Farmers in rural areas can plan for unpredictable weather and watch the prices of goods in the stock market.
  • Families can receive money from relatives overseas.
  • Parents could teach their children basic education.

Truly, the possibilities are endless.

With Internet accessibility, developing countries can finally be on the same playing field and understand the benefits of Internet access.

“We have a simple message,” Zuckerberg wrote. “By giving people access to the tools, knowledge and opportunities of the Internet, we can give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.”

Alexandra Korman

Sources: Arc, CNN, One, UN News Centre
Photo: Flickr