The Red Cross is teaching Fortnite players to save, not take, lives

Published January 20, 2020
New game mode will feature four main humanitarian activities carried out by Red Cross workers in 80 countries. — Photo courtesy Fortnite
New game mode will feature four main humanitarian activities carried out by Red Cross workers in 80 countries. — Photo courtesy Fortnite

Teaching online video game players to save lives, not take them — that is the aim of a new product developed in an unusual collaboration between the creators of the wildly popular Fortnite games and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The new game mode, called Liferun, teaches players the four main activities carried out by Red Cross workers in more than 80 countries — caring for civilians in need, rebuilding essential infrastructure, removing land mines and distributing aid as rapidly as possible — hardly the stuff of a typical shoot-'em-up game.

Three well-known players, who go by DrLupo, Lachlan and ONEShotGURL, are to present the new mode on Sunday at the PAX South video gaming convention in San Antonio, Texas, the ICRC said in a statement.

"The ICRC is recognising the growing importance of the gaming community," the organisation said, estimating the number of gamers at 2 billion worldwide.

"Video games have been mainstream entertainment and social platforms for a long time, and we know that many gamers are also current, past or future soldiers, army officers, armed group members, CEOs of companies, lawyers and political leaders," Jennifer Hauseman, the ICRC director of communications and technology, said in the statement.

"We need to talk to them in a smart and engaging way to explain that civilians suffer greatly in conflict."

The ICRC, which works to promote respect for international humanitarian law, had earlier partnered with the Prague-based Bohemia Interactive studio to integrate messages about humanitarian law into its Arma 3 game.

Launched in July 2017, Fortnite rapidly became a cultural phenomenon. It now boasts 250 million registered players.

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