How UNICEF used a Fake Video Game to Highlight the South Sudan Crisis

To promote awareness, UNICEF presents a violent RPG starring a displaced girl in a war-torn region

In a video uploaded on YouTube, UNICEF brings to light the life for children in war-torn Sudan by pitching a role-playing video game of a 7-year old girl’s fight for survival.

At the Washington Convention Center, Joe Sabia presents to the Video Gamers United crowd a novel idea for a horror apocalyptic video game. The game begins with a shot of the girl Elika’s mother dying of cholera. Soldiers barge in the family’s quarters and in an attempt for defense, Elika’s only brother gets killed with the back end of a rifle. Elika runs away and before she can get to safety, a bullet grazes her baby brother’s cheek.

elika escape sudan youtube unicef campaign rpg video game fake 12.43.17 PM.jpgShe arrives in a camp of improvised tents, overwhelmed by the squalor of a community built on fear and panic. A status box on the screen show Elika’s chances for survival in three bars: Health, Hydration and Hunger.

The game, pitched to make a sale with monochromatic sketches and convincing dialogue, disturbed the crowd. Although the walk-outs in the video could be staged, it was obvious how many in the conference were in disbelief that something so graphic should be presented or even put into consideration.

A stunt that happened last August, it was only uploaded on YouTube on December 11, 2014, four days before the South Sudanese Civil War commemorates a year since it broke out. Rough estimates show tens of thousands of casualties with millions of internally displaced individuals. The war continue to ravage the region but has failed to make a mark on public consciousness and UNICEF attempts to tell the stories of the most vulnerable victims, the children.

After the presentation, survivors of the on-going war in Sudan walk in and talk about the reality of the conditions in the video. Mari Malek explains “Elika’s story is true. She is me, and she is so many of the South Sudanese children that are going through this experience at this moment.”

elika escape sudan youtube unicef campaign rpg video game fake 12.43.55 PM.jpg

UNICEF, a non-profit for children, has put an important question forward. How would people react if fictional violence (such as those in video games) become child’s play when compared to reality?

via The Inspiration Room