Tuesday, December 15, 2015

FreeRice - Online Free Fun Game Helps the Hungry

World hunger is projected to have reached a historic high in 2009 and continues to increase with 1,020 million people going hungry every day. Recent analysis by theFood and Agricultural Organization says that the increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This also reduced access to food by the poor in many countries.

free rice

A solution anyone can be part of is by playing a free web game called FreeRice. Known as one of the best deals of the internet, FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program in partnership with Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. It is a web based game which gives knowledge to the player and food for someone in need. The goals of FreeRice are to:
  • Provide education to everyone for free
  • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free

What is the On-line Fun Game About?

The game tests the vocabulary and knowledge of the participants. The player is presented with a word and four possible definitions, and asked to click on one. For each click on a correct answer, 10 grains of rice are added to a wooden plate which acts as a score card.

When the game was launched in 2007, it had only English vocabulary but it evolved and enhanced quickly as a result of continuing enthusiasm. Now the game is multilingual with words in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. In addition to vocabulary, there are now questions in the game covering Art, Math, Chemistry and Geography.

FreeRice has a database containing thousands of words in each subject at varying degrees of difficulty. The player can choose the level of difficulty as the game progresses and watch the pretty wooden bowl fill with virtual rice, and know that someone in need is being helped.

How is Revenue Generated by the Free Web Game?

The answer is advertisements. Companies advertise on the website and in exchange donate money to pay for the rice and other expenses. FreeRice in turn underwrites the donations to buy and distribute the rice by the World Food Program. The web site keeps track of the grains by month. For example, in November 2009, 1.4 billion rice grains were collected.

There are about 48 grains in a gram of rice. In countries where rice is a staple part of the diet, the World Food Program provides about 400 grams of rice per person per day as partof a food basket containing other ingredients. This is intended to ensure a minimum of 2,100 kilocalories and other essential nutrients.

Who is Behind the On-Line Game Phenomenon?

FreeRice is the invention of John Breen, a computer programmer and online fundraising pioneer. He set it up so that the rice is distributed through the World Food Program.

Mr. Breen and the millions of FreeRice players can feel proud seeing the examples of where the rice from the popular internet game has been distributed:
  • In Bangladesh to feed 27,000 refugees from Myanmar for two weeks
  • In Uganda to feed 66,000 school children for a week
  • In Combodia to provide take-home rations for two months to 13,500 pregnant and nursing women

When is the Game Played?

Like any online game, FreeRice can be played any time of the day or night. There are people who regularly spend 5 to 10 minutes a day when they start their computer or just before closing it for the day. Playing even 5-10 minutes means donating 500-1500 grains of rice a day. Each grain adds up to feed a hungry child.

Spread of FreeRice Game through the Internet Communities:

Cited as viral marketing success story, word of the game has spread. The game’s appeal is such that FreeRice ‘communities’ have mushroomed on Facebook and MySpace.There’s a group on Facebook called Free Rice Challenge that asks the visitors to play FreeRice and post the score on the group’s wall. The totals are added up to see just how much of that rice is coming from Facebook members.

Success of the On-line Game:

Since the players help the hungry and also gain knowledge in the process, the online game can be said as a win-win situation. The fun game has been especially successful among students and teachers with more school children expanding their vocabulary as they help someone in need. For adults the imagination of feeding a hungry person with the rice they fill in the virtual bowl makes it meaningful and interesting.


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