Global Poverty and Subsistence

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Comments on Games about Human Rights/ Hunger / Poverty

  1. Lisa (student)
    April 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Formal Blog Post on World Hunger

    If I were to describe Ayiti or Third World Farmer with a single word, it would be frustrating. Both games are truly frustrating, and I don’t think that that has anything to do with how good someone is at computer games. I think that the frustrating factor is a message unto itself. The poverty and famine around the world is a frustrating matter; if I was frustrated trying to feed a family via computer game, then that frustration on a real life scale must be murderous. Both of these games show how difficult it is to help a family in a developing country from within, and World Food Force shows how difficult it is to help towns and families from the outside. These three games have the same message: hunger and poverty are difficult stressful issues, and it is going to take time and a lot of hard work to get many families, towns and cities out of poverty.

    According to globalissues.org, the US has been falling short on its world aid for the past several years. The United States continually promises for more lending than they actually ever reach. Most other countries either hit their mark or are a little above or below it. The US was about 70% lower than their predicted amount of aid. This surprised me because I, rather naively, assumed that the US would be able to support more countries in need because of how wealthy the US is. World hunger is a growing issue. It is not just up to the smaller developing countries to help themselves, but also for the larger countries to give aid. Most aid programs don’t just drop food off and leave it at that. The Peace Corps and others help to build up the communities so that they can survive on their own. According to World Food Force, a balanced diet and functioning society are the two most important things in getting developing cities and towns onto their feed.

    Ayiti does a good job of showing how the living conditions in Haiti actually are. The ratio of doctors to patients is 1 to 10,000. This is shown by how expensive and ineffectual going to the clinic or hospitals were. Also, only 30% of the population has a steady job, which explains why the members of the family had to get new jobs each season. Also, only 35% of children are able to be educated because of the expensive school systems. The schools are mostly expensive private schools which are difficult for most families to pay for. The chaos and expense of the education system is also well depicted in Ayiti, with next to worthless public schools and with the incredibly expensive private ones.

    Sources
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/35/us-and-foreign-aid-assistance#Aidmoneyisactuallywaybelowwhathasbeenpromised
    http://www.lakoudemokrasi.org/conditions.html
    http://www.food-force.com/

  2. April 20, 2010 at 1:11 am

    To most people in the United States, food production and the acquiring of food are topics as irrelevant to quotidian life as are the number of syllables in an anapest. For most Americans, food is a routine and expendable thing in their lives. If they happen to need more, the supermarket is merely some minutes away, having bought the food, they then go back to fashioning their existences. It is not so for the rest of the world. In our Serious Games class, we explored world hunger and poverty through three games: Third World Farmer, (an independent production) FoodForce (commisioned by the United Nations) and Ayiti (sponsored by UNICEF). The two games I found most effective were Third World Farmer and Ayiti. The games are thought-provoking, though not particularly fun, or easy to pick up, for example
    Third World Farmer offers much more control to the player than Ayiti. I personally like TWF better than Ayiti because I felt that Ayiti was too difficult and almost impossible to win. I know the developers said that they wanted to show the hardships of living in Haiti, but I believe a more thorough blend of historical accuracy and ease of use, perhaps sacrificing slightly the historical aspect of the game, would have made it easier to get into, and thus compensate for the slight lack of historicity, which would allow the player to delve further into the historical aspect by themselves, after having “hooked them” to the topic.

    The difficulty of maintaining a family in Ayiti led me to research the economic situation in Haiti, such as the average wage, costs of living etc. After a quick search on Google, the sources for the Wikipedia article on Haiti, and the CIA World Fact Book, I began unearthing very interesting information. The first thing I found was an interview (published and presumably recorded in 2007) with Portia Mills an American who had (by then) been living in Castel-Père, Haiti for a year, working for a non-governmental organization called Pwoje Espwa, meaning “Project Hope” in Haitian Créole. She mentioned that she spends about $500 a month, and about $20 a week on recreation. She shares a “quad” with 3 people, and they live rather spartanly, it seems, as they share a bathroom and don’t have hot water. The farm where they work/live also houses 600 Haitian children. Mills doesn’t live in poverty, but still gets by with US$6000. The dollar to gourde exchange rate on April 9 2010 was 40.25 gourdes for every $1. We can assume then, that Mills was living on roughly 241526.35 gourdes a year.
    To put this in perspective, the average Haitian worker, earns less than $2 a day, or less than 80.50 gourdes/day according to Fowòm Ouvriye, a Haitian website detailing labor conditions in the nation. FO also tells us that “Currently, a bill has been introduced in the Haitian parliament by congressman Steven Benoit which would raise the minimum wage to 200 gourdes per day ($5.61 per day or 70¢ per hour). But there is slight hope for haiti, because “a bill has been introduced in the Haitian parliament by congressman Steven Benoit which would raise the minimum wage to 200 gourdes per day ($5.61 per day or 70¢ per hour).” I now understand why simply buying medicine instead of going to hospital for a fourth of the year, was beyond impossible. I found a 40-count pack of Nyquil Multi Symptom Cold & Flu Relief Liquicaps retailed for $14.34, easily obtainable for any US worker, even those on minimum wage, $7.25/hour in 2009 in the state of Ohio; for a Haitian worker though, even naïvely assuming that the cost wouldn’t increase for being imported, or for the brand name, that same 40-count box would cost 577.25 gourdes, or 7 extra days’ worth of wages .

    Sources:
    http://coinmill.com/HTG_USD.html
    http://fowomouvriye.org/Bulletins/001/MinimumWage.html
    http://www.expatinterviews.com/Portia-Mills.html
    http://www.com.ohio.gov/laws/docs/laws_2009minimumwage.pdf
    http://www1.epinions.com/review/Vicks_Nyquil_Multi_Symptom_Cold_Flu_Relief_Liquicaps_40_Ea/content_213396917892

  3. Jimmy (student)
    April 20, 2010 at 2:09 am

    When someone looks at poverty farming, they have problems understanding what actually goes on during poverty farming. The three games that show poverty farming that we have gone over is, Third World Farmer, Ayiti, and Food Force. Third World Farmer was the game that showed the problems in farming in poverty farming. You always have problems with crops. You have to figure out or try to plan when negative and unlucky events happen. You have to quickly buy crop insurance so nothing else happens to you. But getting crop insurance for a poverty farmer would never happen. It always took me about six turns to get to the point where I won the game. In life you don’t get six attempts on life, so I feel like this is not a good example.

    Ayiti is the game where you run around as a Haitian family trying to work as much as possible while getting sick every possible turn there is. I know that I’m probably over looking this but I don’t think people get sick four times each year. The thing that is good with Ayiti is how the families have to continently work. You never get it easy, you have to work with everyone in your family, and you can afford to take a day off.

    Food Force is the game that gives the player a different look at poverty farming. If you look at Food Force you see what the UN does for farming and that’s it. It is more advertising for the UN then a cool little game. You never see what happens with problems in poverty farming. It seems like the UN is more focused on showing the world what they do so people like and look at the UN in a positive way.

  4. Lisa
    April 20, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    In terms of Nyquill, yes, buying the 40-count pack of nyquill would cost a weeks worth of wages. But going to the hospital would lose three months worth of wages, which is signigicantly higher. Plus, it costs to go to the hospital or even to a cheaper clinic. Yes, buying over the counter drugs would cost alot of money for the average Haitian, but going to the hospital would still end up costing the worker more in the end.

  5. Nichole
    April 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t feel like third world farmer depicts poverty more accurately than ayiti. In third world farmer you have less control over the choices the family makes. Even though you can buy different objects you still are only focusing on the actually farming. Also in third world farmer once you’ve earned a lot of money, you can’t improve your living at all. In ayiti if you have a steady income you are able to change your living conditions, which is giving you a chance to improve your life. It also seems harder to gain education for a person in ayiti then in third world farmer. In third world farmer if your health is bad all you have to do is pay a little bit of money and they’re completely better and able to work. In ayiti you have to actually choose which type of help to get and they spend the season at the clinic and are unable to work.
    Third World Farmer seems like it is based off of luck. I feel like third world farmer exaggerates the damages that can happen to a person’s crop each year. To win the game your first year has to be a good crop or else you run the chance of losing all of your money and having members of your family die. I also agree that the game doesn’t really represent an actual third world farmer. It wouldn’t seem true that a third world farmer would be able to afford elephants. Also, the fact that you are not able to buy more land seems unrealistic. It’s also interesting how one could easily have many children and be able to sell every last one of them. A problem with the game is that it becomes too basic over time and would be hard to keep someone’s interest for very long. Another problem is you don’t have much control over what happens in third world farmer.
    Ayiti seems to represent third world farming and living better than third world farmer. In ayiti you have more choices on how you want to spend the season instead of just focusing on crops. Ayiti is also more complicated to play though. It is harder to figure out how to win the game compared to third world farmer. I don’t think the option you chose at the beginning of the game effects how you play though. Ayiti allows you to have more control over how the members of the family spend their time. Ayiti also makes you think about which is more important either education or work. I believe ayiti is not only more fun to play but also more realistic for us to begin to understand a little bit more about third world farmers in general.
    Since ayiti has the option of going into a clinic or hospital, I decided to look more into hospitals in Haiti. There is a 300 bed hospital in Cap-Haitien called Justinian Hospital. This 300 bed hospital actually serves around 600,000 people, which is crazy to think how crowded that specific hospital must be. According to the International Plumbing Code, they suggest that 30,000 to 40,000 gallons of water should be used per day in a 300-bed hospital. This specific hospital though only has two working wells, but during the dry season only one well actually works. The hospital is operating on only 6,000 gallons of water per day. That’s a big difference from what they should actually have. In order for them to improve their hospital it would cost them $25,000 for a short-term project, which currently they don’t have enough money to do.

    Source: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/fellows/haiti/hospital.html

  6. Mariah
    April 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I feel that both Third World Farmer and Ayiti both struggle in depicting their purposes. Within the game Third World Farmer, I noticed that it depicted the many hardships and struggles that a significant part of the world’s population experiences. Such hardships include droughts, diseases, the lack of health care, theft, military combats and battles, and national governments and banking. But I feel that as I was playing the game I felt in order for me to win the game, I would have to rely on chance. Instead of the game allowing me to make my own decisions, my success was dependant on the computer. Third World Farmer is highly successful in depicting what a third world farmer life looks like. I became aware of the many difficult decisions farmers face when their in complete debt. As I was continuously growing more and more in debt, I was given the decisions to either sell my land in order to shelter the military, store toxics of companies, or plant opium plants. I feel that for Third World Farmer to become completely successful in educating gamers about the lives and hardships farmers of the third world face, they should allow the gamers to have more control while playing. Yes, I was given many decisions, but it seem as I continued to play the game many of those decisions were a result of fate.

    I find that Ayiti have some of the similar struggles Third World Farmer contained. The game Ayiti’s main purpose was to illustrate to gamers the hardships and lives of Haitians. As some know, many Haitian families live off a dollar a week. Ayiti try to illustrate that within their game. Along with depicting those hardship faced in Haiti, Ayiti begins with four attributes that the gamer could choose to focus on; Happiness, Health, Education, and Money. By reading the article about a Haitian family, I’ve became even more skeptical about the game Ayiti. I hear from classmates in order to win the game one must focus on Happiness. But reading this article about this Haitian family it doesn’t seem like it’s there number one priority at all. It seems that their main priority in life isn’t about survival. Alvarez, which seems to be the head of this Haitian family, stresses the fact that her family needs water for their house. She explains the fact that even if they get water they still in the danger if the water is drinkable or not. But reading further on, and her responses about her children it doesn’t seem like she has the strive to make her family happy. Alvarez, which seems to be the head of this Haitian family, stresses the fact that her family needs water for their house. She explains the fact that even if they get water they still in the danger if the water is drinkable or not. But reading further on, and her responses about her children it doesn’t seem like she has strive to make her family happy. One of her children is tied up to a wall for punishment, she announces that another child is sick, thus through those hardships they’re going through; it doesn’t seem as if she has sympathy for what was happening. But maybe its not the lack of sympathy, it could be the lack of hope.

    As seen during Third World Farmer, it also seems that the game play of Ayiti is dependent on the idea of fate and chance, where you have little say about what happens. The computer allows the family to spend money on expense that you’re not even aware of. This becomes very frustrating. Frustration is an aspect that most games should avoid, because the more the game is frustrating the harder it’s going to be to attract and keep the player’s interest. Game play has a huge effect in whether a game is successful or not; regardless of its purpose. The harder the game is to play, the harder to catch a gamer’s interest. Accuracy also has a huge effect on the games success also. Without accuracy it’s hard for the gamer’s to reach a sense of reality and finding a connection with the characters.

    Resource
    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/fellows/haiti/family.html

  7. Clint
    April 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    The game Third World Farmer is a fairly simple game that sets the player’s role as a third world farming family. The player’s goal is to earn money, give the family an education, and increase the family’s size. The family increases its number of members by the head of the family’s wife having a baby or marrying (with the spouse coming to the family). The family can receive an education by going to school during the year. The family earns money by harvesting crops. The family can increase their earnings by purchasing tools and animals to help the harvest process. Also, technological advances can be purchased to help the family. Once the player buys all the technological advances, the game is over.

    The main issues with Third World Farmer are that it is a game that requires good luck. If a dry season or crash of the national bank occurs in the early turns, the game is basically over because the family has no money. However, if a good harvest season occurs, the family earns lots of money and the game is a breeze. Also, the player should be able to purchase more farming land. The game does an alright job of modeling the real world because it is hard to survive. However, I have never understood how a third world family could possibly purchase elephants, tractors, and all the technological advances. The game needs them for game-play reasons, but they do not simulate real world scenarios.

    The one aspect of TWF that has really bothered me the most is the prices of the tools one can purchase to help with harvesting. The price of the shovel is the only tool that is accurately priced at $25. In the game, the scythe is listed at $35. However, the actual price for one is around $125. The relative price of these tools in the game is 71% and in real life is 20%. The next tool is the plow. The game’s price is $175 and the actual price is $700. Compared to the shovel, the relative price in the game is 14% and in real life is 3.6%. The next upgraded tool is the tractor. The price listed in the game is $500 and the real life price is $50,000. Compared to the shovel, the relative price in the game is 5% and in real life is 0.05%. The final tool in the game is the harvester. The game’s price is $750 and the actual price for one is $250,000. Compared to the shovel, the relative price in the game is 3.33% and in real life is 0.01%. It would be ridiculous for the game to use real life prices because of the large price for a tractor or harvester. However, the game could use prices that were relative to each other based on the real life prices. But based on these numbers, the relative prices are not even close to one another. Therefore, the game does a horrible job on having the prices for harvesting tools being close to realistic.

    http://www.ironsearch.com/IRONsearch/inventory.aspx?dealer_no=5619963095&
    http://caseih.ironbuilder.com/viewSummary.aspx
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001Q4SKSI/ref=asc_df_B001Q4SKSI1084663?tag=the004-20&creative=380333&creativeASIN=B001Q4SKSI&linkCode=asn
    http://greenspotantiques.com/wp/?s=GS_4-00122
    http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Handle-Digging-Shovel-9668/dp/B000B6Q6BA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1271026341&sr=8-1
    http://www.3rdworldfarmer.com/

  8. Brian
    April 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Ayiti and Third World Farmer are two similar games that are attempting to show the player different views of farming in a third world country. Ayiti is attempting to show the player how difficult it is to be a successful farmer in a third world country such as Haiti. On the other hand, Third World Farmer is attempting to show how a farmer can be very successful in a country like Africa if they have good resources.
    Ayiti is a very frustrating game from the very instant you open it up on your computer screen. When you start the game, you are bombarded with a huge page of instructions. These instructions are a pain to read, because most players are anxious to play the game. In addition, the gameplay is very confusing even after reading the instructions. Out of all the times I played Ayiti, I did not succeed one time. My family always died because I could not afford to send them to the clinic or I could not keep my family happy. I was never able to figure out a way to do well in Ayiti.
    Third World Farmer was the exact opposite of Ayiti. When you opened the game up on the computer screen, there were very few instructions. However it was the perfect amount of instructions to help the player figure out what they were doing. For example, I succeeded in Third World Farmer after about my fifth time playing it. I believe this is very realistic because if a farmer in a country like Africa has good resources available combined with a good strategy, the farmer will succeed. In Third World farmer this is pretty much how the game works.

  9. Adam
    April 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Ayiti and third world farmer both claim to be primarily about agriculture in third world countries. However, Ayiti tends to be more about life in a third world country rather than being about agriculture. The circumstances and problems depicted in third world farmer are significantly more trivial than the ones faced in Ayiti. Although in third world farmer one must keep family members alive and one is given the option to sell family members these problems are easily fixed and avoidable. Ayiti, on the other hand, has problems that are nearly impossible to fix or avoid. However, Ayiti proposes multiple methods to escape debt and attain sustenance for the family to live off of. Third world farmer also provides easier methods to keep the characters healthy. All one must do is purchase health for them and they are instantaneously healthy again, it is particularly easy to do so when money with an abundance of money, but this does not effectively show how difficult it is to survive in a third world environment. Although, health issues can be a problem in any environment if one does not have a sufficient amount of money. In both games it isn’t agriculture and health that is the key factor, it is money. Without money, the characters will not be having food for the family, healthcare or enough sustenance to survive. Illustrating the lack of money people in third world counties have is something Ayiti does very effectively. One may be able to work for a while but eventually there will be a health problem and no money will be earned till it is fixed and without money being earned no health care will be provided and the cycle will continue to spiral out of control till death is reached. In third world farmer it is just too easy for money to be earned. With money, one can buy better tool and products to be sold and health care provided thus achieving victory. Because it is that easy to attain money, third world farmer does not effectively illustrate the challenges faced by people in the third world, where as Ayiti does.

  10. Marzieh
    April 30, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Of the three poverty-focused games we’ve played so far—3rd World Farmer, Ayiti: Cost of Life, and UN Food Force—I believe that Ayiti is by far the best game of the bunch. Of the three, only Ayiti is consistently difficult to play, which fits with the topic it depicts. Poverty is a difficult thing to deal with, since, as depicted in the game, it’s a never-ending spiral where one needs to take care of the different facets of life but can’t because there is always a lack of funds. The game makes the player try to maintain the health of a Haitian family of five, educate them, keep them happy, make money, and get a better quality of life for the family. It’s difficult to do well in the game because the better-paying jobs are either more dangerous or require the person to have more education. As a result, the player either has to risk the health of the family member—which may result in an injury or sickness, thus less cash flow because the person has to rest at home or go to the hospital—or send the person to school—where the person spends money but doesn’t make money. What generally ends up happening is all the family members have to work in order to make enough money to just barely make ends meet; however, this daily grind makes the family depressed, which may result in them losing their job. Basically, playing with an eye looking towards the future doesn’t help in this game because there isn’t an easy way to make enough money when needed. It successfully makes the player get a better idea of the hardship that comes with living in poverty.

    I was not impressed with 3rd World Farmer. The game skews the flow of time, the family apparently has access to super-meds, there are no realistic prices for buyable items, and you can’t buy more land even though you’re a farmer. A harvester costs a few hundred dollars in the game, while the real cost for a used one is around $21,500. (http://agromachine.com/used/Combine-Harvester/35849/Case-1680/adview) This is in American dollars, so that number would need to be adjusted for whatever (presumably) African country we’re in. The game seems to put together different countries with citizens living through poverty farming while having the game family look African (Poppies? Isn’t that an Afghani problem?). Another thing that seriously bothers me about the game is that there is almost a fool-proof way of doing extremely well in the game. While I’ve never managed to do it (and never had the patience for it), there is no reason for a game about farming—poverty farming, at that—to have a method that almost always guarantees success.

    UN Food Force was a joke. As someone said above, it is basically an advertisement for this UN group. The player doesn’t learn anything about poverty or poverty farming. They only learn about the group. The game itself is even presented to make them out to be a crack team that pounces on a mission to solve the problem of poverty wherever it strikes while doing their utmost to not lose any food. “Give us food!” “No, this food is going to help starving people, maybe even your family.” “…Wow! We were able to get away without losing a single bag of food!” You know they’re good when they can get away from a hostile entity without having to give up anything.

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