Virtual game offers insight into refugee experience

News Stories, 15 June 2005

A still from Against All Odds.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, June 15 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has launched a web-based interactive game to offer teenagers in Sweden some insight into the refugee experience.

"Against All Odds" is a Swedish-language knowledge and experience game designed to promote integration and positive attitudes towards refugees by putting players in their shoes.

"Under time pressure, the player is forced to leave his or her home, escaping from persecution in the home country and taking off towards an uncertain future in another country, facing a different culture and a new language," explains Mans Nyberg, UNHCR's spokesman in Stockholm. "The player, as a refugee, has to do his or her best not to give up but to rebuild life in a foreign country."

Among the different scenarios, players must overcome obstacles to leave their homes in search of protection and assistance. In exile, they must cope with difficulties at school, not knowing the language and making new friends. They also experience what refugees go through when facing discrimination on the streets, applying for a job and generally starting a new life.

In addition to the experience-based part of the virtual game, "Against All Odds" also features a factual library with articles on situations of repression, and efforts to promote respect for human rights and protection and assistance to refugees. There are also interviews with real refugees who tell their stories.

The third component of the package offers a teacher's guide with exercises founded on knowledge, empathy and understanding.

Which flight route would you choose, asks the game in Swedish. Play Against All Odds.

Norwegian company Statoil supported UNHCR's Regional Office for the Baltic and Nordic Countries in producing the game. The two organizations have a history of partnership, working in the field to build peace, advance human rights and find durable solutions for the world's persecuted and most vulnerable people. Projects range from educating internally displaced people in Azerbaijan to rehabilitating schools and health facilities in Angola.

UNHCR's other partners in "Against All Odds" include Microsoft, Ericsson and Datareal AB. The game was developed by Paregos and Tictac.

"We welcome the increasing social commitment of the corporate sector and their support, which has made it possible to develop and produce this e-learning tool," said UNHCR's Nyberg.

The Norwegian version of "Against All Odds" is expected to be ready in autumn this year.

By Kristina Rodriguez in Stockholm, Sweden