What do you do when you're a well-respected mobile game with 700K players worldwide? You design a virtual soup can helmet and sell it to your players for charity! At least, that's what Per Blue's Parallel Kingdom is doing (with Playmob) for the SOS Children relief in North Kenya.
SOS Children's Villages is an independently operated, international organization that's been saving kids since 1949. Currently, funds are needed for emergency food and medical aid due to a severe drought in the area. Soup Can Helmets cost 550 Food each (the virtual currency of Parallel Kingdom), which is the equivalent of $5.50 USD and enough to feed three children. Since the helmet is priced with Food, it's possible for you to not spend any real money on the helmet for it to still count. (In fact, for those of you who haven't liked the game's Facebook page yet, there's a free 100 Food offer that you can use towards a helmet purchase.)
According to Per Blue, this charity drive is at its halfway point with only a week left to go. So far, 550 Soup Can Helmets have been sold, which means 1,650 children have been cared for. If you play the game, you can buy the Soup Can Helmet in the PK Swag section of your local Trade Post until September 29.
If you're new to the game and feeling adventurous, then after the tutorial stage, click on the Food tab on the bottom of your game screen to reach the Get Food menu. You'll see the Donate Food option, but it's really just a notice for the charity drive. Instead, you need to go to Travel, click on a Trade Hub (the one in Madison, WI is one of the two biggest ones), and locate your Local Trade Post, which should be a white building with a red roof buried under a dozen other players who are represented as little heads. Finally, you need to be at Level 2 to be allowed to purchase the helmet. (If you get lost, fire up the in-game chat. Special thanks goes to MisMoon, MoldyBanana, and ZeroGr@vity for their help.)
Parallel Kingdom is best described as FourSquare meets a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game). It surpassed a half million players in June, was voted 2009 Best Augmented Reality App Second Place (first place went to XMG Studio Inc.'s Pandemica) and 2009 Best MMO Game Third Place (beaten by ngmoco's Eliminate Pro, with Miraphonic's Epic Pet Wars in first place). Although Parallel Kingdom is not a true Facebook game (its Facebook game app simply links you to register on the website), it does possess Facebook Connect and can be played on your PC with a web browser.
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