One keystroke, one mouse click at a time, Wesley Knee wants to change the way people see video games. They don't have to be shoot-em-up gore-fests used just for entertainment. Knee says, "I really like to think I conquer big problems, and I do that through an interactive medium."
So he's studying game design at Champlain College. But Knee also works at Champlain's Emergent Media Center. It's a new place that gives young thinkers opportunities to shape real projects for companies and non-profits. Knee doesn't get class credit, but he does pull down a paycheck and is building his portfolio with a powerful project.
Aminata Toure, the chief of the gender, human rights, and culture branch of the United Nations Population Fund, says, "You are not a man if you are beating up a woman."
Toure works for the United Nations on gender and human rights issues. She helped land a $200,000 grant for the Emergent Media Center and 15 students to develop a video game to teach South African boys -- 8, 9, or 10 year olds -- that violence towards women should not be tolerated. The region, as the Champlain students saw firsthand on a visit in August, struggles with widespread sexual and physical violence against girls and women.
Toure explains, "We're trying to create a new discourse with role models. The game would also present options. 'If I am facing violence, what would I do?' 'If I am provoked, what would I do?'"
The team plans to put a heroic male figure at the center of the game. He'll be presented with choices about interacting with women. The tricky balance? Making a game that's fun to play but with a lesson that will stick with the boys as they grow into men.
Ann DeMarle of the Emergent Media Center explains, "It needs to be about 70 percent entertainment, 30 percent message. You become interested in the story, the characters, and as you're following that, you get to see the message delivered."
The United Nations says gender violence is directly linked to poverty so the tool may help South Africa on two fronts. Wesley Knee is optimistic that the game can have a serious impact. His goal? "That we can reach out and touch a couple people's lives over there."
The students are still in the concept and development phase. They hope to deliver their game to the U.N. in two years.
The Emergent Media Center is developing other game-themed projects to promote literacy and for use in training first responders and hospital staff.
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:54:18 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:25:14 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:48 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:48:57 GMT
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess. First, shut off power to all basement appliances. Don't touchMore >>
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess.More >>