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Laptops & Role Playing: Is Technology the Answer to Poverty?

Laptops & Role Playing: Is Technology the Answer to Poverty?

Though Dungeons and Dragons has weirdly wormed its way into the campaign, technology is popping up worldwide as not an escape from the drudgery of every day, but as an escape from poverty. Laptops and role-playing games are a double click of cure.

One Laptop Per Child, a program designed to bring technology and opportunity to kids in developing nations has completely fulfilled that mission in the tiny South Pacific island of Niue. Every single kid, 100 percent of them, now has access to the Internet on the inexpensive, rugged, waterproof (and pretty cute!) laptops. Though Niue is a developing nation, they've been ahead of the technology curve — in 2003 they were the first territory to offer free wireless to all residents.

Once you've mastered the web, can gaming be a golden ticket? Oh yes. To find out how,


Almost half a million people in developing nations make their living playing online games like World of Warcraft, earning virtual goods, and the selling them to other players for decidedly unvirtual money. It's called gold-farming and its growing despite the industry's efforts to crack down. Based in China for the most part, the business garners $500 million, though the true size is hard to estimate.

Gamers gold-farm by offering services like "power-leveling" where one can pay a gamer to take one's character to a higher level faster, outsourcing one's hobbies, as it were. The game's service size is comparable to India's outsourcing industry, though relatively few know the former exists. Why do people pay to have someone else play a game for them? Says one researcher, "When you get people with more money than time and time than money the two will find a way to meet." Paying someone to play World of Warcraft for you!? Whatever next.

That said, has technology become the new Esperanto, a language the whole world speaks? Is access to it the antidote to poverty and crucial to survival?


Join The Conversation
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
True... Thanks for the info. :)
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
milosmommy, since the government (through our taxes!) is usually the one providing the school lunches, we would need to lobby our school boards and local governments for changes there. I don't know of any school district that accepts donations (except for the PTA). It's not that I don't agree with your comment, I just think it is misdirected.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
I know that comment's probably not going to win me any fans, but it's just my opinion anyway.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
True, but I guess I was thinking that this guy could be donating his money elsewhere. Not that I don't think donating laptops is worthy. But there are hungry children here in the U.S.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
As far as I can tell from reading about this program it's not using government money.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
I know this comment may seem harsh to some but, we can afford to donate laptops to kids in other countries, but we can't afford to feed our kids in the states decent school lunches???
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
I think this is a great program, but I wish that there were programs in place to teach them technological skills other than gaming. They could probably make more money as remote developers than they can "gold-farming" in the gaming community.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
That's cool! Better than what I use my internet for...
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
For developing nations I would think the focus would be more on the essentials and less on giving them technology. For starters, technology becomes obsolete on a ridiculously quick cycle in the scheme of things. Are they going to keep upgrading the laptops year after year? Also, the good old "teach a man to fish" adage comes to mind here. Better to bolster the economy so that the residents can afford this stuff on their own.
pinkmystic pinkmystic 8 years
That's pretty cool. I play role playing games and always ask people to level up for me.. I have a life you know ;) lol
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