On a rainy, cold afternoon eight metro Atlanta teens are on their way to meet five-time Grammy winner CeeLo Green. On the drive to Terminal West downtown, the teens have been encouraged to play the singer-songwriter’s new game app “Ceelo’s Joyride” with a promise of a very special prize for the person who unlocks the most cars in the game.
Our joyride kicks off at Southwest Christian Academy, one of the singer’s nonprofit GreenHouse Foundation partner schools. I join the group of teens who have all been chosen because of the leadership they have shown at their schools. Bernabe Becerra, 17, a Maynard Jackson High School said, “We were chosen because we are both leaders in our school’s gardening club,” referring to her classmate Shanda Strong, 18. Although many of the teens are not huge fans, many say that either their parents or someone they knew were all very excited nonetheless.
For the majority of the 13.5 mile ride, everyone is silent and focusing on the mobile game with music being played over the car’s speakers. As we approach our destination, the music turns from other hip-hop artists to CeeLo’s music. When we arrive at Terminal West, the location for our mini CeeLo concert, we’re greeted by some of Green’s family members and staff.
“CeeLo’s Joyride” has the player driving around the city of Atlanta collecting diamonds in order to buy bigger and faster cars, which range from an old school Lincoln Continental to a newer faster, sports car. Alongside the fancy cars and Atlanta Skyline, the video game is littered with Atlanta landmarks such as the Vortex and fun facts about Green himself. The game, voiced by a very enthusiastic Green, can, at times, be explicit. The free mobile game app is available in Apple and Android app and play stores.
The singer joins a crowded freeway filled with celebrities, from Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift, it seems like every week a celebrity releases a new video game app for their fans to fangirl or fanboy over. While many of these mobile phone games are simple point-and-play games with dialogue where you are encouraged to have a second life inside the game, CeeLo’s is also supporting a good cause.
What makes this video game so special? The singer and his sister Shedonna Alexander have created the nonprofit The GreenHouse Foundation in memory of their grandmother Ruby Callaway Robinson to promote healthier living styles for school-age children. “Education for a sustainable lifestyle for youth in underprivileged communities is a disenfranchisement that has troubled us for too long,” Green told me. The GreenHouse Foundation is now in five partner schools in metro Atlanta, from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy to Maynard Jackson High School. The foundation has served about 300 students so far.
While we wait for Mr. Green to warm up his voice, many of the teens are focused on the game since the person who unlocks the most cars will win a very special prize. Some of the teens have given up because the game is too difficult for them. But if you find yourself struggling to accelerate through “CeeLo’s Joyride,” you’re in good company. After my short interview with Mr. Green, he told me that he himself had not gotten past the Lincoln Continental, which is the free car at the beginning of the game.
So, if you enjoy a challenging game, that also gives part of the proceeds to educating kids about living healthier lives, this is a must-have game.