January 14, 2008 17:44 ET

FATWORLD: Online Game Explores America's Obesity Crisis

Fit or Fat? Live or Die? You Decide; Begins January 14, 2008, at

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - January 14, 2008) - ITVS Interactive (Independent Television Service) and PBS's Emmy® Award-winning weekly series "Independent Lens" today published FATWORLD, an online video game created by Atlanta-based independent game studio Persuasive Games, about the politics of nutrition. FATWORLD explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition and socioeconomics in the United States.

In FATWORLD, players create a world, design a character and live out an accelerated life in that world. Players choose starting weights and health conditions, including predispositions toward ailments or food allergies. Each player constructs menus and recipes, decides what their character will eat and which foods to avoid, chooses the type of exercise to do (or not) and runs a restaurant to serve the community. By choosing a character's dietary and exercise habits, players can experiment with the constraints of nutrition and economics as they affect their character's general health. Characters who eat more than they burn will get fat. Characters who eat poorly will develop adverse health conditions. Characters who don't exercise will move around the world more laboriously. Disease and death will eventually ravage players with poor health, whereas those with good health will live to a ripe old age. Players also have an opportunity to influence public policy by visiting the Govern-O-Mat and to get a glimpse into their own character's health -- if they can afford it -- at the Health-O-Mat.

FATWORLD is a game for adults and teens, but it can also serve as a starting point for discussions with children about nutrition, health and socioeconomics.

"Existing approaches to nutrition advocacy fail to communicate the collective effect of everyday health practices," said FATWORLD lead designer and Persuasive Games co-founder Dr. Ian Bogost. "In a video game, we can simulate the passage of time and give players a view of their future selves based on their current habits." Bogost, who is also a professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has written extensively on video games as tools for social intervention, most recently in his book "Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames."

FATWORLD includes a Recipe Exchange, where players can export recipes and meal plans they create in the game and upload them to the site, and can download content other players have created. The website also features resources for learning more about food politics, obesity, health and nutrition, diet and exercise.

About Persuasive Games

Persuasive Games designs and distributes video games with a message, games that push at the boundaries of the medium. Titles invite players to experience social issues, politics, news, brands, and other topics in fun and engaging environments. Games are often thought as only a leisure activity, but Persuasive Games designs to both entertain and teach. Recent clients include: Cold Stone Creamery, Domino's Pizza, Cisco Systems, Red Octane, Shockwave,, UK Clinical Virology Network, Chrysler, and, with works featured on CNN, MSNBC, MTV and G4TechTV, in the New York Times, and via many other media outlets. For more information visit

Electric Shadows and Independent Lens Web Exclusives

The Independent Lens website at is proud to be a portal to Electric Shadows projects, which feature independent media makers via the Web. Presented by Independent Lens and ITVS Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Electric Shadows is a special fund for innovative Web-original projects that offer untold, provocative stories and social-issue games by today's independent storytellers. Since its inception in 2002, the Electric Shadows initiative has funded six online projects that have garnered a People's Choice Webby Award and two SXSW Web Awards, Yahoo! Picks and named in's "50 Coolest Websites." Explore all six projects and learn more about Electric Shadows at

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