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Buddhist video game aims to teach morals

Outbreak of kindness expected in Thailand

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We hear a lot about violence in video games being to blame for all the ills besetting the youth of today. Now, a Thai games developer has decided it is time to right the balance and has developed a snappily titled Ethics Game to teach youngsters about being good, decent and teetotal.

The game is based around the five precepts of Buddhism: do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not lie, and do not drink alcohol.

It follows three children on a pilgrimage with a wise old monk. The players have to deal with problems and obstacles along the way, but in a way which is consistent with the teachings of the Buddha. Normal game playing behaviour - shooting stuff, hurting animals, and so on - will cost the player points.

Pakorn Tancharoen, a senior officer in Thailand's Religious Affairs Department, explains that he became concerned about the moral impact of gaming when he heard about a boy who attacked his mum when she wouldn't pay for an online gaming session for him.

He told Thai paper The Nation: "It is impossible to stop kids from playing games or flocking to online-game arcades. So, let them play, but play good games."

Faced with a shortage of "good games", he set about developing his own. He worked in his spare time at first, hanging out at game arcades after work and watching what the kids were into.

Then he involved the kids in designing the characters who would go on the pilgrimage he devised.

When the project was approved, he found a gaming firm to develop and launch it. He said: "They said they had been hired to produce so many violent games, they saw this as a chance to make amends."

The game can be downloaded here. Being able to read the Thai language will be an advantage, and is not one we have, so we can't vouch for it actually being any fun. ®

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