Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Children's Rights in Teen Second Life

By way of the MAGIC network, another cool example of gamers using machinima for political expression, this time through a 5-week-long initiative led by Global Kids (with support from UNICEF) and taking place entirely within Teen Second Life. Teens from three different countries (Finland, UK and US) participated in the second annual "Camp Global Kids", a virtual summer camp geared towards producing short videos about children's rights, in order to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The initiative also had an obvious educational imperative, which appears to have hit home with the teens involved. According to one project volunteer, quoted in the UNICEF press release:
"Although the campers knew that children have rights," said Global Kids volunteer Nafiza Akter, 17, "they didn't know what was in the document specifically. After the camp, they really learned about what different rights the document guaranteed children around the world. And I think it made them compassionate, because you realize that children should be having these rights and yet they’re violated."

The end products were screened as part of a "red-carpet affair" that took place on the Global Kids Island (in Teen Second Life), which included a selection of "real-world" short films made by teens involved in UNICEF's "One Minute Jrs" project (in conjunction with the Sandberg Institute). The filmmakers introduced their machinima and answered questions to an audience of nearly 100, each of whom received free virtual popcorn and a child rights t-shirt for participating. The short films covered a variety of topics, from drug use and health care, to media and play, to child soldiers. On using machinima as an educational, political and creative tool, Global Kids' Second Life Education Specialist, Tabitha Tsai, was quoted saying:
"We feel that making machinima is an excellent way to share the kids' work with the public because you don't need to know Second Life to watch a movie or to understand what their message is. [...] [The participants] learned a lot of transferable skills in this camp. They were able to learn how to capture angles, tell a story and raise awareness on a right, while at the same time having fun with it."

The organization hopes to expand the camp next summer, to "include more children from around the world." For more info, you can check out the Global Kids' Digital Media Initiatives project website, Holy Meatballs, or the One Minute Jrs project site. Prepare to be impressed!


Shaping Youth said...

Sara, fabulous piece; exactly the kind of machinima use that uses innovation for education. If I can break clear of this grant deadline, I'll be interviewing Barry Joseph with Global Kids next week on this and much more re: the virtual worlds e-learning sector, so this is quite helpful, thanks. Would LOVE to have you as a Shaping Youth correspondent in the gaming arena for content swaps and reprint permissions for pieces like this one. (just as we have Ashley onboard re: the preschool TV partner posse) If you're interested, please ping me when you can?

Shaping Youth said...

Just posted a mini-roundup on Shaping Youth re: virtual worlds as learning environs.

Figure parents need a primer... Included you as a fave in the gaming analysis, so keep up the good work and ping me when time avails!
Here's the link:

Adding you to our blogroll too...