State's games aim to teach Middle Eastern youth about U.S. culture

The role-playing games being developed by X-Life Games for the State Department are intended to engage young Middle Eastern adults and teach them about U.S. culture at the same time.

The two games released for free download from to Internet-enabled mobile phones are a series of interrelated modules that lets players explore how their lives could play out with a number of alternate career choices. In each module, the player gets to try a different "X-Life" and struggle to the top of the featured profession.

The program still is in a pilot phase, and State and the company are evaluating how to develop and deliver the games. Here’s what they’ve come up with so far:

X-Life: Driven

The storyline: Salah Moaveni has received the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to participate in an international exchange program at International University in Philadelphia. His goal is to rise to the top of the university’s engineering class. On the way, he encounters friends, professors and Zephyr, the school bully. He learns about the school and local culture to take on trivia challenges, complete quests and modify a car for a road race project in which he competes against Zephyr.

Your objective: As you complete the driving and trivia challenges, you earn education points that advance your game level. For each level that you attain, you are rewarded points that you can use to upgrade your car. You can also earn X-dollars that you can use to upgrade your game avatar on

X-Life: Babangar Blues

The storyline: Before attending International University, Salah was poised to achieve the dream of every teenage boy, in the United States or the Middle East. As the lead guitarist for an underground rock band called Babangar, he and his band had established a reputation for being one of the best under-18 acts in the Middle East and had lined up a possible recording contract. Everything seemed to be going Babangar’s way — until it all went horribly wrong.

Your objective: You can advance to higher levels in the game by completing music and trivia challenges and receiving education points. For each level that you attain, you earn points along with X-dollars that you can use to upgrade your game avatar.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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