Terry Lavender

Homeless game on a roll

July 26, 2007

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By Carol Thorbes

An educational interactive game developed and unveiled by an SFU grad student last year is a hit with more than just the press.

Terry Lavender’s game Homeless: It’s NO Game, which gained international media attention, will be part of a learning kit offered to Vancouver area public schools this fall. The B.C. Teachers Federation has just concluded a deal with Lavender to use his game to teach Grade 6 and 7 students about homelessness during the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s Homelessness Action Week, October 15-21.

Lavender’s was one of 17 games showcased at the annual Games for Change Festival in New York city last month. It was among more than 50 entries competing for centre stage at the prestigious international festival’s Game Expo.

Lavender, who is also the manager of communications at SFU’s Surrey campus, was delighted to get such exposure in the Big Apple. “This festival usually showcases very serious games made by formidable, big-budget competitors such as the U.S. defence department,” he says. “A number of speakers and participants have sent me emails praising the homeless game’s provocativeness.”

Lavender’s game shared centre stage with the likes of A Force More Powerful, the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using non-violent methods, and Planet Green Game. In this game Starbucks and Global Green USA have teamed up to encourage individuals to click, play and learn about global climate change and smart solutions.

Lavender’s video game, which is the basis of his master’s thesis, gets players to experience the gritty realities of homelessness. They must survive, with their self-esteem intact, 24 hours of scrounging for food, clothing and shelter, dodging the police and predators and facing off with irate passers-by.

Homeless: It’s NO Game can be played online at

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