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NOVEMBER 5, 2007 

Good game in more ways than one

Here's an example of the web at its best: a game called FreeRice that's simple, fun, and useful. You improve your vocabulary by picking the correct meanings for words shown on screen. The game software tries words of various difficulties until it hits your skill level. Then it gets challenging. Get three right at any level and you move to a harder level. Get one wrong and you drop back. I started at Level 40, got up to 46 but couldn't stay there.

Screenshot of FreeRice homepageThe game play is easy to understand but keeps you on your toes. The graphics are cheerful and attractive.

Oh, and by the way, you're doing good while you play. Each correct answer becomes a donation of 10 grains of rice to the world's poor. That may not seem like much, but multiplied by many people it becomes significant. The site has been operating slightly less than a month—since Oct. 7—and the rice donated totals 729 million grains. I'm not sure how many grains in a cup, but I know it's a lot of rice!

The site is a sister site of Poverty.com, another example of a simple, clear explanation of an issue—world poverty—that offers both a view of the current situation and steps you can take to do something about it.

The site also provides an extensive list of links to organizations and information sources so you can learn more about poverty and efforts to fight it. This combination of information plus the opportunity to act is something that make the web such a darn interesting medium.

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