Free Rice – the simple ARG

Free rice is a simple enough game, for every question you correctly answer 10 grains of rice is donated to the World Food Programme. The best part, its free (the rice is acutually donated by advertisers on the site)! All you have to donate is your time to the site. In 15 quick minutes I donated 700 grains of rice. And the questions instead of having a trivia focus are english vocabulary words, so while helping others the creators also hope you learn something yourself. The more questions you answer the harder the vocabulary words become. The last component, there is no punishment for a wrong answer.

The simplicity of the game doesn’t necessarily keep it engaging for that long, but a little bit everyday adds up quickly. The user can see this on the homepage, where the totals are kept. Just yesterday 7.7 million grains of rice were donated and in total 91 billion grains have been donated since its creation. While the solution to world hunger is not this simple, the game at least offers people an accessible way to start exploring the issue of world hunger while feeling they are having a small impact on the worldwide issue. Besides hosting the game, the website offers hunger facts, information about the World Food Programme, places to donate monetarily, and the latest news on the fight against hunger.

My only critique of the website is that there is no place for the users to discuss their ideas for addressing world hunger in a more sustainable way. The game is accessing users that seem to have some interest in the issue (proven by the fact they are donation their time to the site). I’m sure that harnessing more than their intelligence to generate donations could be beneficial to the World Hunger Programme. The game is serving as a gateway for users to start exploring this issue and educating themselves, by not allowing the continuation of that discussion they are doing a disservice to both the users and the overall goal of the game itself.

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