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Video Game / Darfur Is Dying

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Darfur Is Dying is a 2006 "narrative based simulation" by a group of students for the Darfur Digital Activist Contest of mtvU, which it won. It can be found here.

This Adobe Flash game allows the player to take on the roles of a Sudanese family living in Darfur, as well as managing the camp in which said family lives. The game's ultimate goal is to ensure that the village camp survives 7 days, while enduring attacks from Janjaweed militia. It was well received, with a good deal of coverage in international media.

This work provides examples of:

  • An Arm and a Leg: A character named Aseena lost her right hand to a bullet. The same shot had also killed her young daughter, whom she was holding as she fled the attack.
  • Art Shift: The game occasionally intersperses its cel-shaded graphics with real-life photos of the people or events they were based on, to underscore the gravity of the situation.
  • Behind a Stick: Janjaweed technicals all have a rather questionable sight radius. It is possible to hide from them behind pretty much any object in the game's world - even if they are like rocks, which are drawn as being much smaller than the villager you are currently controlling, and regardless of the direction you are hiding from.
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  • Death of a Child: The backstory of one character, Amina, describes how she went back to her former village to search for her children after an attack, only to find the head of her son. Another one, Aseena was fleeing with a toddler when a bullet tore off her own hand and entered the child's heart.
  • Fetch Quest: A suitably dark version, where you send out one of the villagers with a jerry can from a water in a well five kilometers away, while trying not to get caught by the Janjaweed patrols riding around in technicals.
  • Kid Hero: The majority of the playable characters, as only two of the five are adults, excluding the camp manager.
  • No Fourth Wall: The game explicitly asks the player to contact the then-President Bush and/or their Representative, or to get involved in other ways like organizing rallies advocating divestment from Sudan when Janjaweed are about to attack. Doing so reduces attacks' frequency.
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  • Rape as Drama: Downplayed. Clicking on the characters in the camp will let you read their backstories. For Fatima, it'll will flatly write that she and they were kidnapped by soldiers, made to walk for hours and "At night they were raped several different times."
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Even simply trying to get fresh water for the camp requires sneaking past Janjaweed militia patrols in technicals.
  • Take That, Audience!: Getting caught by a Janjaweed patrol while trying to fetch water results in a message describing the character's likely fate (which varies depending their age and gender) and concludes with "As someone at a far off computer, and not a child or an adult in Sudan, would you like to try again?"
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Most of the game is about managing the settlement's food and water levels. You'll also get occasionally attacked by Janjaweed in between, which you can do nothing about in-game;
  • You All Look Familiar: All of the Janjaweed technicals look exactly the same.