The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

With 1.2 billion people playing video games worldwide, the gaming community is a powerful entity to transmit messages and ideas across the globe. Penn Nursing graduate student Matthew Lee is using a video game he created in hopes of reducing water scarcity worldwide.

Lee’s game is a finalist in the 2014 G20 Global Business Challenge . His team, AFK Studios , is comprised of students from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Queensland and himself . In the past, the competition has aimed to bring graduate students together to create solutions to global challenges through innovation. The challenge this year, according to the G20 website, is “to develop an innovative solution to use, recycle and/or manage water to achieve large scale beneficial impact.” Their solution is a real time strategy game, known as Tethys , named after the Greek mythological mother of rivers. They will be traveling to Brisbane, Australia in November to present in the final round of the challenge.

Tethys is a multiplayer online game in which players build empires using primarily water at first, and then food and other resources subsequently. Users have the ability to geo-engineer the map, move things around and manipulate water, “reflecting how water is at the center of human civilization,” Lee said.

AFK Studios’ game has a two-fold purpose – firstly, to educate its users about water-related issues and secondly, to raise money that can help fund key projects to alleviate water issues. Lee said that its target audience is “young adults who are getting into the gaming scene as well as people who used to be big gamers, but have scaled back due to the demands of career or family.” If the game becomes a reality, the creators intend for it to be a midcore game — a type of game that is in between casual games such as Candy Crush or Farmville and hardcore games such as World of Warcraft.

Both Lee and his Berkeley teammate Rahul Khurana believe that they have a good shot at winning the G20 Challenge and the $100,000 grand prize. Lee has full confidence in his team, stating that their solution is the “most comprehensive of those in the competition.”

“We have done absolutely everything we can,” Khurana said.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.