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Game aims to help kids cope with divorce

Kyle Orland

When parents are going through a divorce, children usually want to focus on something else -- anything else -- rather than watching the painful process of a marriage breaking apart. They might even want to focus on Earthquake in Zipland, a simple adventure game designed by a team of psychologists to help nine to 12 year olds deal with the complex emotions surrounding a crumbling marriage.

We can appreciate the desire to help children through interactive entertainment, but the ham-handed allegory the game presents sounds like it could use some work. As the game's web site puts it, Zipland is "a small paradise island comprised of two parts held together by a zipper, which represents the marriage of the parents (the King and Queen). Suddenly an earthquake rips the island into two, leaving the king and the queen on separate islands. Moose, the hero, sets out on a quest to build a new zipper and try to re-combine the two islands so that life can go on as before (which of course he can't)." Talk about depressing.

We doubt that most children want or need to be reminded of the harsh reality of divorce through a game. These children would probably be served just as well by any engaging game that provides a distracting escape from the real world. It takes time to come to terms with the painful circumstances surrounding a parental divorce, and forcing them to confront these circumstances through a game might do as much harm as good.

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