FreeRice 2.0 Goes Live!

The viral online quiz game that builds vocabulary while feeding the hungry is in for a major upgrade to make it even more addictive and more fun than the original. Individual and group log-ons make www.freerice.com more useful to both students and teachers …

Does the word arundinaceous mean long and thin or someone who talks too much? Is an aleconner a beer-taster or a kind of bird? Does scunner mean deep dislike or something you’d find on a boat? Just what is the chemical symbol for Magnesium?

Questions like these have stumped millions of people across the globe since 2007, when Freerice.com --   the world’s only online game which feeds the hungry ¬– took the web by storm. 

Since then, the viral brain-teaser has raised enough rice to feed over 4.2 million people for a day, in countries like Uganda and Bangladesh. Pakistan will be the latest destination following the unprecedented flooding that has sparked one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the country’s history.

Each day, an average of 40,000 players (1.2 million per month) put their word-smarts and general knowledge to the test, earning rice for the hungry with every correct answer. 

But the FreeRice frenzy has only just begun as word freaks and loyal players everywhere await an all new version launched today, which combines the addictive game-play of the original version with the community-building appeal of social media, and the ability to create groups and host competitions between schools, classes, and individuals.

The original premise of FreeRice hasn’t changed: players face increasingly difficult questions in their chosen subjects. Players can choose between English vocabulary, grammar, mathematics, art history, foreign languages, and science. 

For every correct answer, they earn ten grains of rice, paid for by advertisers, which are then distributed to the hungry by WFP.  FreeRice 2.0 now takes the game one step further, by bringing players together in an online community of people where virtual game play and interaction rises to a new level. 

So what’s New? - Individual, class, and school competitions:

Players can now log in to www.freerice.com via username and password, or through their Facebook accounts. This means that individual students can track their totals, and compete with friends. Totals and achievements can be posted onto Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Taking it a step further, players can create groups – it’s never been easier to set up a freerice competition between classes, grade levels, or even schools! Rice totals for both the group, and for the group members, are tracked – enabling educators to use freerice.com as both a teaching and assessment tool. You’ve been teaching world capitals in Geography – test your students and feed the hungry at the same time!

The ultimate time-killer, a mobile phone app will also be available for iPhone/iPad users, who can get their FreeRice fix while they wait in line at the bank or ride the bus to work.

The new level of interactivity will make the game a better classroom tool for teachers, who are already using it to hone their students’ vocabularies while teaching them about poverty and hunger. You can find teaching materials on hunger, blogs, a forum, and more here: www.wfp.org/students-and-teachers   

Social gaming for social good:

While students are playing, they are also helping to make a real impact on the lives of the hungry.  The rice raised by freerice players is distributed by United Nations World Food Programme to areas of greatest need. To find out where rice has been distributed, click here: www.freerice.com/faq.html 

“FreeRice is making Internet history, said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications and Private Sector Partnerships for the World Food Programme. “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.”

Not just in English

Language teachers take note! - In response to requests from fans worldwide, FreeRice will go multi-lingual. Starting late 2010, it will be available in French, Spanish and Italian, with more languages to come. Watch this space!

From humble beginnings:

A viral phenomenon, 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  Internet and Society 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 logolepts continues to grow, so does their contribution to WFP’s operations around the world, from quake-ravaged Haiti to the flooded towns and villages of Pakistan