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Future Of Philanthropy

This Game Might Teach Trump About the Perils of Nuclear Power

Epic Orphan can help you (and any trigger happy presidents) understand the world of nuclear proliferation a little better.

This Game Might Teach Trump About the Perils of Nuclear Power

Given that the incoming commander-in-chief has a somewhat cavalier attitude toward using warheads to settle foreign policy disputes, and he’s been highly critical of the U.S.’s nuclear deal with Iran, which could reportedly blow up in a renegotiation, one of the many fallouts of a Trump presidency could, horrifyingly, be nuclear.



If the sudden threat of nuclear war is worrying you (and it should be), consider funding Epic Orphan, a video game on Kickstarter that’s seeking $37,500 to educate us all about the danger of so-called "orphan sources" of unsecured radioactive material used for dirty bombs.

In this game, you, the player, can act as a government agent tasked with following clues to track, find, and dispose of harmful material floating around unstable countries. Along the way, you’ll hone your skills by playing a series of mini-games centered around, say, cryptography—by unlocking cell phone data—or resource management (think: juggling the multiple tasks it takes to keep a power plant running safely after an earthquake). The goal, according to the pitch on Kickstarter, is to "collect evidence, and assemble it to unlock the mysteries of each case." Plus teach us more about the world’s various nuclear risk. You can see more in the demo reel below.

That idea predates the U.S. election. Creator Yvette Chin, an editor and former educator in Boston, came up with the concept for Epic Orphan as a part of the N Square Game Design Challenge, a $10,000 video game competition backed by N Square, a nonprofit group that’s working to find new ways to increase the understanding of nuclear safety in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ploughshares Fund, Hewlett Foundation, and Skoll Global Threats Fund.

To do that, N Square partnered with Games for Change, a nonprofit dedicated to creating and distributing educational and social impact games. Games for Change wants to encourage as many inspirational solutions as possible, so they allowed non-coders to enter the competition, as long as they could explain the mechanics of their game. "We felt that this was an issue that resonated with a creative industry and had a broader audience than just the game developers," says Susanna Pollack, the president of Games for Change. "We wanted to level the playing field to the point where you didn’t have to have the capabilities to actually make the game but if you have an interest in the subject area, you have the passion and you had a general concept about game making that you could enter and participate."



Chin fit that bill, won, and has created a prototype with the game developer Filament Games. At that same time, the competition was one of Games for Change’s most popular ever, so they decided to create the Kickstarter, which covers additional game-building costs. Pollack hopes the final product will receive enough philanthropic backing to cover distribution costs.

Progress toward that initial goal seemed sluggish before the election, but that might change now. For those surprised or excited by how the vote came out, giving everyone the chance to learn more about how the world may be changing seems more important than ever.

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