Serious games are nonetheless seriously addictive

A couple of things have been taking up way too much of my time of late. First up, there’s FreeRice. Your only task here is to pick the correct definition of a word. Every time you get a word right, FreeRice (affiliated with poverty.com) donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. On January 13, 109,129,760 grains of rice were donated; the latest overall figure is 14,165,837,150. I’m not sure how many grains of rice make a bowl, but this is a site that caters to both the selfish gene (by challenging my brain and improving my vocabulary) and the selfless one (by allowing me to in some small way help the world). Plenty of sites have taken the same tack in the past — I remember one from years ago whereby you clicked a ‘give’ button once a day and the site donated money to charity. But this iteration of the idea adds entertainment, education and interaction, which makes it a much more compelling use of the medium.

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