World excitement grows … in Winooski

June 2, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Below is a blog post about our electronic game project, written by Tim Johnson at The Burlington Free Press.

Global excitement is growing about the World Cup, but you wouldn’t know it, living in this country, unless maybe you wander into the Champlain Mill in Winooski, home to the Emergent Media Center of Champlain College. For going on two years, scores of students at the center have been working on an electronic soccer game designed to discourage violence against women. The game now has a name, “Breakaway,” and even a big-name spokesman (big, that is, any place outside of the U.S.), Cameroonian soccer star Samuel Eto’o. For more info on the game, click here.

This is a huge, U.N.-sponsored project that’s soon to culminate with the release of the game’s first chapter (including three episodes), which will go live on the Web on June 22. And on June 20, 2,000 CDs will be distributed in Africa.

Five more chapters are still to be developed, and ultimately, over the next year, the game is to be made cell phone-friendly, because worldwide, cell phones are the primary medium of the target audience, boys 8-13. (If all of this comes as news to you, you haven’t been paying attention. Our last post was in January.)

“The ultimate dream,” says Ann DeMarle, center director, who has been presiding over this mammoth effort, “”would to be in a cycle of production that includes the cell phone version and new chapters of the web game — much like cartoon series, but with a profound message and teaching.”

As for the World Cup excitement, DeMarle experienced it in Milan, where an interview with Eto’o was recorded recently.

“This is something hard to see from within the U.S. … the excitement feels like the air just before a thunderstorm!” DeMarle said. “It is everywhere! In South Africa, it is even more so. Schools will be closed during the World Cup even though it is their fall term. Many programs are hosting youth camps – with both South African youth and youth from around the world. We are distributing to these camps.”

U.N. connections apparently helped snag Eto’o, which apparently was something of a PR coup. (You can read the center’s blog on this, and the Milan trip, by clicking here.) Here’s hoping, for Breakaway’s sake, that Eto’o shows up for with the Cameroonian team for the World Cup. (He seems to be having a dispute with another Cameroonian eminence and has threatened to walk, or so we learn via Google.) As if we didn’t have enough dramas to follow in this story!

By the way, U.N. funding will soon run out again, and private donations — which tided the project over before — are still welcome. Click here for details.

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