Friday, August 19, 2011

The Growth of Green Gaming

Back in the 80s, when our hair was teased and scrunchies were more than just hair ties—they were bracelets too—going green was somewhat of an afterthought.  As for green gaming, the “green” afterthought wasn’t much different, and in 1989, SimCity was at the forefront of the green gaming movement, dropping environmental underpinnings throughout the gaming experience.  Fast forward twenty something years and the video gaming industry has taken these environmental undertones and made them the solid focus of multiple games now available. No more “hints.” We now see video games, computer games and Smartphone apps focusing entirely on environmental consciousness, an issue that resonates especially with younger generations. 
According to an article published by USA Today on August 17th, 2011, green games are quickly moving up to top the list of in-demand games available for consumers.  Personally, I think this is great! It’s a strong and seemingly effective way to increase awareness in children and adults about challenges we face in the environment today and how they will affect our future and the future of generations to come.
What green games can you buy and what green games can we buy in the future? Thanks to the USA Today article, we have the scoop on a handful of green games you can now purchase and look forward to.
Video Games:
Fate of the World: As heads of a fictitious global environmental organization, players confronted with the challenge of managing sociopolitical, energy consumption, population growth, food production, and natural disaster issues in order to improve our environment for the next 200 years.

FLOwer: Released in 2009, this video game lets players control wind and blow petals across various landscapes.  Players transform the environment presented to them which elicits a deeper green message that illustrates harmony between rugged industrialism and the aestheticism of nature.

Recycling Mobile APS:
Face the Waste: Players sort trash into the appropriate recycling bin while Toxic Tim, the villain, tries to stop them. 
Eco Mania: Players match items on a conveyer belt to the proper recycling bin—a great way to help consumers understand where and what can be recycled.
Web Games:
Yard Sale: Players clean a house and resell the items no longer needed at a virtual yard sale.
The McDonald’s Game: This satirical game educates players on the behind-the-scenes of the fast food industry that have a negative impact on the environment.  Issues include clearing rainforests, killing sick cows and marketing fast food to children.
Downloadable Games:
Okab: Similar to the concept of FLOwer, this game has a sort of Avatar feel to it where players help a race akin to nature fend off the terrors placed on them by an environmentally-threatening race.
While we have no played any of these games, we are interested to hear your feedback!  Have you played any of these green games? Will you? Let us know!

USA Today

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Study: Packed Lunch Bags Foster Bacteria Growth

On Tuesday, August 9, 2011, a study found that bag lunches may foster bacteria growth in perishable foods, even if the bags are insulated and/or contain multiple ice packs.
Eight scientists from Texas set out to study bacteria growth in lunch bags to evaluate the risk of germs inhabiting our food.  Because children have a higher risk of developing food borne infections, they conducted the study at nine private child-care centers.  An electronic temperature gun was used to measure the temperature of packed lunch items, which were checked at random three different times. To help determine the risk of germs, a food’s temperature was considered unacceptable if it fell between 4° and 60° Celsius (39° to 140° Fahrenheit).
The results of the study had astonishing outcomes:
-       Out of 618 perishable foods packed in a lunch bag with just one ice pack, only 14 of the food items were considered acceptable 90 minutes prior to consumption. (About 22.7% acceptance)
-       Out of 61 perishable foods packed in a lunch bag with multiple ice packs, only 5 of the food items were considered acceptable 90 minutes prior to consumption. (About 82% acceptance)
-       Some lunches that were placed in a refrigerator were also deemed unacceptable.  This could have resulted from several factors: the type of lunch bag, the internal temperature of the refrigerator, and/or the amount of time the lunch was at room temperature before being placed in the fridge.
What can we take from these findings?
-       It’s safer to pack a lunch bag with multiple ice packs than just one.
-       Try freezing food the night before and placing it in a lunch bag…in addition to multiple ice packs.
-       How about freezing a juice box? That can add to the insulation in your lunch bag…oh, and add multiple ice packs.
-       Avoid leaving foods out for prolonged periods of time.  Pack it at the last minute possible…with multiple ice packs.
Notice something? Ice packs, ice packs and more ice packs!
Personally, I have always thought one ice pack was enough, or I have packed my lunch and left it out for a while before realizing I had forgotten to place it in the fridge. Time for me to re-think my packing skills!
~ Hannah

Resources: Science News
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