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    Play Facebook games to help Japan quake victims

    New Delhi: Now every time you buy special crops on Farmville, someone in disaster-hit Japan might get much-needed succour. In a unique initiative, eight online games on Facebook are raising funds for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami-hit island nation.

    The initiative is a result of partnership between NGO Save the Children and Zynga, a social network game developer.

    Games like Cityville and Farmville are raising funds by offering special crops to its players. The players can pay through credit cards and the entire proceeds would go to the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children's Emergency Fund.

    "Currently, we are collecting information, but we think that many children have been affected by in this catastrophe. Our priority is to ensure that children are safe and to address their psychosocial needs," a Save the Children official told IANS.

    A massive earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale rocked the island nation Friday and set off huge tsunami waves, some as high as 10 metres, killing over 1,000 people.

    The NGO is hoping to reach out to maximum number of victims and expecting generous donations from millions of online players via their favourites games like Zynga Poker, Frontierville, Cafe World, Yoville, Z Bar and World With Your Friends.

    "Currently, it is estimated that at least 215,000 people are taking refuge in emergency shelters in the eastern and northern parts of the country. We think that a considerable amount of money is needed for distribution of emergency aid kits, medical aid and for repair of infrastructure," the official added.

    According to Facebook, around 50 million users are playing Farmville every month, almost 40 are hooked on to Zynga Poker, and nearly 20 million indulge in Frontierville and over 10 million users are playing Cityville every month.

    Apart from harvesting crops, one can place Japanese inspired decorations in their cafe or purchase access to a VIP table in Zynga Poker.

    "It's actually a unique idea. These crops give me extra points which help me increase my level. They don't wither like other crops and most importantly, it feels good to be doing something for the people who are suffering in Japan," said Uday Vohra, a 20-year-old Farmville addict.

    "I will be planting a field full of Daikons as my contribution," added Vohra.

    Avid gamer Akhil Bhatt likes this concept "where money is raised for a charity in a way that it also benefits the donors".

    "I came to know about it in the morning when I logged on to play Cityville. It's a good way to entice players as they will be moving up in the game while having the satisfaction of donating to a social cause," opined Bhatt.

    Although this is the first time that the NGO is partnering such a unique initiative, Zynga had earlier donated similarly collected proceedings to the World Food Programme, who was distributing food and other relief to thousands in Haiti affected by the devastating earthquake last year.