about the author
Social Media Editor
Justin Smith worked as a journalist before joining WFP in 2010. He tweets at @justin_eugene
The viral word game that builds vocabulary while feeding the hungry has had a major upgrade that’s made it even more addictive than before. Players of the new version will be able to compete with friends, tout their scores on Facebook and play on the go by mobile phone – all while fighting hunger. Check it out!
ROME – FreeRice went "social” on Tuesday with the arrival of a highly anticipated upgrade, which draws on the power of online communities to attract new players, raise more rice and spread awareness about fighting hunger.
The new version combines the fun and easy gameplay of the original with the fun of social media, allowing players to track their scrores, play in groups and recruit their friends to the online fight against hunger.
“The race will be on to see who can top the FreeRice rankings,” said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications and Private Sector Partnerships.
Since launching in 2007, FreeRice has raised enough food to feed more than 4.2 million people for a day in countries like Bangladesh, Uganda and Cambodia. The next batch of FreeRice will be sent to victims of the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan.
The basic premise of FreeRice hasn’t changed: players face increasingly difficult vocabulary questions and for every right answers, earn ten grains of rice donated through WFP and paid for by advertisers.
The new version, however, takes the game one step further, by bringing players together in an online community where groups of friends or classmates can pit their wits against each other. Learn more about how schools are using FreeRice.
Players will now be able to post their scores on Facebook or tweet about how much rice they’ve donated. Weaving social media into the game not only makes it more fun, but will attract new players.
“FreeRice is making Internet history, said Roman. “It’s a stellar example of how a fun and simple idea can harness the internet’s potential to contribute to the world’s most pressing global issue – hunger.”
FreeRice was launched in 2007 with no official marketing campaign and at no cost to WFP. Its designer, John Breen, says the programme started out as a simple word game to help his teenage sons prepare for their college entrance exams.
Breen, who was already working on a number of humanitarian causes, realized the game’s potential to help, putting it at the service of WFP. An instant success, in its first month, the game had raised enough rice to feed over 50,000 people for a day.
As it continued turning heads and winning converts, FreeRice won Yahoo!’s 2007 Charity Website of the Year Award. A year later, Breen was recognized by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the game’s outstanding contribution to the Internet’s impact on society.
Today, thousands of loyal players log on everyday to learn new words or improve their English language skills, while donating rice to the hungry. As this online community of hunger-fighting word fans continues to grow, so does their contribution to WFP’s operations around the world.