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US college students invited to create a game highlighting the perils of spiralling government and personal debt.

Indebted Digital Challenge Invites Young People To Create A Video Game Addressing Nation’s Fiscal Crisis for a $10,000 Prize

New York, NY – December 18, 2008 – MTV’s 24-hour college network mtvU and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation today launched a partnership to create Indebted, a new campaign for college students that raises awareness about the dangers of personal and government financial irresponsibility and promotes action to help stop the fiscal crisis in the United States. As part of this campaign, young people nationwide are invited to participate in the Indebted Digital Challenge with a $10,000 prize at stake.

Increasing levels of government and personal debt mean that today’s young people will be the first generation not to enjoy the same growth in standard of living as their parents. Today, nearly two-thirds of all four-year college graduates have student loans, averaging around $20,000—and that number will continue to climb. Fifteen years ago, less than half of college graduates had student loans.

At the federal level, with a national debt now nearing $11 trillion, plus $43 trillion in promised benefits for Social Security and Medicare and other liabilities, the government’s real national debt amounts to a staggering $56.4 trillion—or $184,000 for every American. Although the government will have to spend more than it earns to boost the US economy in the short term, it also must become more responsible about managing its longer-term finances.

“College students are inheriting a catastrophic fiscal crisis even bigger than what we’re seeing today," said Ross Martin, Senior Vice President of Programming for mtvU. “Together with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Indebted campaign is empowering our audience to protect themselves and each other, to hold our government accountable for responsible spending, and to work together to change the course of their financial future."

“Our current economic challenges make it more important than ever that young people be aware of the threats to their future financial security, and that they can access and share the necessary information to bring about change,” said Peterson Foundation President and CEO Dave Walker. “The online game and other forthcoming efforts are designed to provide that information. We’re thrilled to forge this strategic partnership with mtvU.”

The Indebted Digital Challenge asks 18-28 year olds, individually or in teams, to submit creative, original ideas for an online video game that focuses on the nation’s fiscal crisis. Submissions are due on January 7, 2009. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize. The game will be used as a tool to spread awareness of our dangerous financial condition and to encourage young people to take action to turn the tide. More information is available at

The Indebted Digital Challenge video game concept will follow the success of previous student-led video games mtvU has launched to promote social action, including “Pos or Not” ( and “Darfur is Dying” ( “Pos or Not,” which was created in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, is an online game that challenges the stereotypes and stigma that prevent people from openly talking about HIV/AIDS, getting tested, and using protection. To date, the game has been played over 9.1 million times by 645,000 people. “Darfur is Dying” (, an mtvU student-developed video game—now played more than 3.6 million times by over 2.1 million people—is designed to spread awareness of, and spur action to end the genocide in Darfur. “Darfur is Dying” is a narrative-based simulation where the user, from the perspective of a displaced Darfurian, negotiates forces that threaten the survival of his or her refugee camp. The game is a key element of mtvU’s student-led, Emmy Award-winning Sudan campaign.

For more information on Indebted or the Indebted Digital Challenge, please go to the official campaign site,

About mtvU

Broadcast to more than 750 college campuses and via top cable distributors in 700 college communities nationwide, mtvU reaches upwards of 9 million U.S. college students – making it the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the United States, as well as on cable systems from Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS TV, Suddenlink Communications, AT&T u-Verse and nearly 70 others. mtvU is dedicated to every aspect of college life, reaching students everywhere they are: on-air, online and on campus. mtvU programs music videos from emerging artists that can’t be seen anywhere else, news, student life features and initiatives that give college students the tools to advance positive social change. mtvU is always on campus, with more than 250 events per year, including exclusive concerts, giveaways, shooting mtvU series and more. For more information about mtvU, and a complete programming schedule, visit

mtvU also owns and operates the College Media Network, the largest interactive network of online college newspapers in the United States, and, the Internet’s largest listing of collegiate professor ratings. The College Media Network comprises nearly 600 campus publications that serve institutions including Brown University, the University of Illinois, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University, with a combined enrollment of over 5.5 million students, reaching an average of 5 million unique users each month. reaches approximately 2.9 million college students each month, via the site’s more than 6.6 million student-generated ratings of over 1,000,000 college professors.

About the Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Founded by the senior chairman of The Blackstone Group with a personal commitment of at least $1 billion, the Foundation is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the nature and urgency of key fiscal challenges threatening America's future, and to accelerating action on them. To address these challenges successfully, the Foundation works to bring Americans together to find sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results. For more information, visit



Janice Gatti Elizabeth Wilner / Myra Sung

mtvU Peter G. Peterson Foundation

212.846.8852 212.542.9200 /

Janice Gatti

MTV / mtvU

212.846.8852 (office)

201.424.0482 (cell)

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