In 2011, a new videogame premiered that not many expected would be a hit.
The game is called Spent and it is about surviving homelessness.
Spent is a collaboration between Urban Ministries of Durham and the interactive firm, Mc Kinney.
"When we first launched SPENT, my simple hope was that it would help affluent people in our local metro area understand a little better the wrenching choices their very poor neighbors face every day," said Patrice Nelson, Executive Director of the Urban Ministries of Durham.
"But it's exceeded our wildest expectation, touching millions of people worldwide." The organization reports that since 2011, the game has been played more than 4 million times by close to 2 million people in 218 countries.
This week a mobile version for phones and tablets launched.
Here's our original story, reported by Leoneda Inge: North Carolina has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation during this recent economic downturn.
Families have had to be strategic about paying rent and buying food while looking for work.
It’s almost like a real-life game of chance – one that’s extremely hard to win. Exit means you just give up (laughter)" Inge: "I’m pushing to find a job." I had a lot of help playing SPENT.
Hard life lessons are what spurred the national advertising agency – Mc Kinney – to create an online game to bring attention to the needy on behalf of Urban Ministries of Durham. Sarah Fowler looked over my shoulder – laughing now and then and questioning some of my decisions.
The new online game SPENT hit the web two weeks ago. She lived at Urban Ministries for about a year trying to get her life back together.
And already nearly 350,000 people have played – people from all around the world. The webpage opens to a black screen with this statement written in white: "Urban Ministries of Durham serves over 6,000 people every year. " Below in bright orange is the challenge – it reads “Prove It.” I accepted the challenge. But what’s scarier are the statements blowing toward you – “Fourteen million Americans are unemployed. Your savings are gone, you’ve lost your house, and you’re down to your last one-thousand dollars. She’s had a full time job at Whole Foods for the past four years.