For the past two years, a team of Michigan State University instructors and students have worked on developing a PC game designed to educate people, especially children in Cambodia, on avoiding landmines and other unexploded ordinances (UXOs).

Designed to be compatible with One Laptop Per Child's low-cost computers for children in third-world countries, the Undercover UXO project "uses image repetition to embed warning signals in players’ minds", according to a report from The State News.

Players guide a character and his/her pet searching for food through a series of Cambodian landscape pictures. They will be able to avoid landmines and UXOs by paying attention to warning, such as "bright red signs emblazoned with a skull and cautionary words".

"The real trick is how do you get people, especially kids, to look at these things long enough to sort of notice these kinds of [dangers]," says team leader Corey Bohil. "It should be fun enough that a kid wants to play this game over and over again … and get enough repetition that when it transfers out into the real world, it translates into actual changes in behavior."

The Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to the development of technologies for disposing and safeguarding against landmines/UXOs, approached MSU about coming up with a new method of land mine education after finding current methods, like informational pamphlets, ineffective.

MSU's team has worked on Undercover UXO since and received a nearly $78,000 grand last year from the U.S. State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. Golden West officials plans to take the game to Cambodia for testing next month. The game is also designed to allow Golden West to switch the landscape pictures, so the charity can adapt and distribute it to other countries.

[Via GamePolitics, Living@]