UNICEF Video Game Reality
UNICEF is raising awareness of the plight of children in South Sudan with a pitch for “Elika’s Escape”, a fake video game, at a gamers conference in Washington DC. A presenter (Joe Sabia) at VGU (Video Gamers United) at the Washington Convention Centre, in August 2014, provided an exclusive preview of Elika’s Escape to an audience who became increasingly disturbed by the game’s premise. Members of the audience began to walk out as it became clear that the game’s protagonist was a victim of desperate circumstances. The film has been released on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the South Sudanese Conflict in December 2013. UNICEF is promoting conversation on the plight of children in South Sudan using the Twitter #southsudannow hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
“This is an exclusive preview of Elika’s Escape,” the presenter said. “First-person shooters, post apocalyptic survival stories? Those are very, very popular right now. But Elika’s Escape features something very special. You play a 7-year old little girl as the protagonist. A child. The game starts with her mother dying of cholera. And in this first shot your older brother dies trying to defend you. Meanwhile, Elika herself — you — escape away and a bullet grazes your infant baby brother. We are taking the level of horror in this game even to infants. Once you make it to a refugee camp, things aren’t much better. The stench of sewage permeates the area, and you become so desperate that you consider prostitution to help make money to feed your family.”
Mari Malek, a South Sudan refugee herself, added that while Elika’s Escape the game may be a work of fiction, the plight in the region is too real. “Elika’s story is true,” Malek says. “She is me, and she is so many of the South Sudanese children that are going through this experience at this moment.”