I came across the Free Rice during my research on "games with a purpose" (GWAP). For every correct answer, the website donates 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. Games have long been a fun and effective way to learn. Crossword puzzles are a game many enjoy that is also a fun way to learn new words and think about familiar ones. Sesame Street proved that children can learn and have fun at the same time. With the spread of computers and the Internet, teachers quickly adapted the new technology to instruction. Now, many websites and applications for children are both entertaining and educational.
Free rice is the newest entry in a long tradition of making learning fun. The best thing about a good game is that people enjoy playing it for its own sake. In other words, people enjoy facing and overcoming challenges, no matter how simple or repetitive. The popular game Tetris because people achieve satisfaction by increasing their skill. This satisfaction alone makes the game addictive to many. Such games have no other direct purpose than stimulation and satisfaction of achieving a goal.
One estimate suggests today 63% of people play some sort of game online. Games range from extremely simple tasks performed against the computer (computer card games, arcade games, Scrabble, etc.) to extremely complex, massive multi-player games like Warcraft. Only a few our like Free Rice, because Free Rice offers more than simple self satisfaction of our competitive urges. This game, and other games with a purpose, provide an additional player incentive. This incentive allows players to become members of a global network of people who want add value to their recreational time.
For English language learners, Free Rice has quizzes in both vocabulary and grammar. The grammar quizzes are beginning and intermediate. Vocabulary is arranged in 60 levels, ranging from beginning to advanced. How advanced? Well, I had never even seen any of the words on Level 60! Best of all, you are helping feed the world's hungry, while having fun, and practicing English. Free Rice also offers quizzes to help learn German, Spanish, Italian, and French. Other subjects include math, chemistry, geography, literature, and art appreciation. I hope that more and more games with a purpose can help improve conditions worldwide.