Computers Know Everything, Even How To Avoid Landmines

Sick of military games showing children even wilder ways to kill? A new game, Landmine Lookout, goes the other way, teaching young lads in war-torn countries how to help keep everyone alive.

Developed by students and faculty from Michigan State University (MSU), the game looks to educate children on the finer points of avoiding unexploded landmines. Obviously not for the majority of people, it's designed for use in areas ravaged by years of wars, with landmines intended to catch enemies still littering now-public locations.

How drastic is the need to educate people on landmines? According to the United Nations Mine Action Service, as many as 20,000 people are either killed or injured in landmine-related accidents worldwide. In countries like Cambodia, which literally went through decades of civil war, millions of landmines are estimated to remain buried under soil, waiting unattended and ready to claim their next victims.

The game sees players navigating a maze-like jungle with their pets, gathering food they can use to feed their animal friends. But beware - hidden explosives are spread throughout the jungle. Players must recognize the warning signs that one could be potentially in the area, then take a different route to keep themselves and their virtual pets safe.

A $78,000 grant from the U.S. State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement paid for most of the project, with help from the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. Landmine Lookout is compatible with the One Laptop Per Child computers, which they will be using during the software's trial run this month in Cambodia. If successful, the group will begin planning for implementation in other high-risk areas too.

[MSU via Inhabitat]