Serving Nutrition on Red Planet

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

Serving Nutrition on Red Planet


Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a world of ultraviolent video games, where dexterity of the thumb and index finger is infinitely more important than the flexing of the cerebrum, there must be a place for children and their parents to interact and actually learn something from that overpriced multimedia computer/gaming system. Take a deep breath and enter the ROMper Room, where learning is a four-letter word - cool.

Tweens and older children learn healthy eating habits and nutrition skills while trying to set up a colony on Mars in the real-time strategy adventure Hungry Red Planet.

District-based Health Media Lab has teamed up with the National Institutes of Health to offer an excellent simulation that will remind video gamers of a watered-down version of Microsoft's Age of Empires gaming franchise as they dabble in math, science and basic economics.

The story begins as the overcrowded planet Earth has reached a critical point of food shortages. Luckily, a comet smacks into Mars and turns its hostile climate hospitable. The player acts as the governor of the planet and controls all the minutiae involved with settling, building, exploring the terrain and shipping food back to Earth.

This monumental task involves keeping colonists working, housed, protected and well fed to continue producing and establishing new agricultural sites to ultimately help their home planet.

After an optional tutorial that does a fantastic job of explaining clearly how to execute the action, the game begins by revealing a landscape in which to work and resources available.

The most important requirement, food, gets dealt with through a multilevel menu that has the governor planning a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack for his settlers using a combination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid and a row of bar graphs defined as the Healthy Eating Index.

These bars quantitatively measure 10 areas, such as total sodium, fiber and calories, and change as some of the more than 300 food types (all cross-referenced with Food and Drug Administration label information) are dragged into the meal-planning areas. Keeping those bars within the required parameters, displayed as green or yellow, leads to happy workers who will thrive on Mars.

Once a diet has been completed, the player must create places to produce food and hopefully become self-sufficient while carefully watching how many workers he has available, as well as credits and cash on hand.

Setting up structures involves moving a cursor across a landscape broken down into square plots, selecting a plot, selecting a structure and watching resource numbers get deducted. Structures can range from a poultry farm situated on a piece of land with a pond to a bean farm on a grassy patch to a laboratory to introduce new foods.

Additionally, the player can establish more colonies by using a vehicle to move about and commandeer new Martian land grids.

After every element has been tweaked to statistical satisfaction, the governor can quickly view reports on his changes, get advice and then click an icon to move one year forward, which constitutes a turn, in the simulation. Choosing an easy level gives the player 15 years or turns while the difficult level equals 25.

As an added twist, colonists will occasionally get attacked by their mutated brethren, who through poor nutritional conditions during the early years of Mars colonization have turned into monsters bent on stealing precious resources. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Serving Nutrition on Red Planet
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.