Games for good

Half The Sky mobile games engage girls and women in developing regions in gameplay that helps to educate them about improving their lives.

From the Series

Women in developing regions like India and East Africa continue to face many social and health challenges, including unhealthy pregnancies, intestinal worm infections and gender discrimination.

Infrastructure and support systems are often lacking in these areas, but access to mobile phones are fairly widespread while mobile gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

It is here that Half The Sky mobile games saw an opportunity to engage girls and women in meaningful gameplay to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Games for Change, a New York based organisation that catalyses social impact through digital games, with support from USAID, have developed three mobile games aimed specifically at educating and empowering women in ways to improve their conditions. 

Three games were designed, each focusing on a specific problem area. Each of the games were tested for cultural relevance and acceptability with NGO partners working on the ground in the targeted areas. Special attention was paid to nuances like food, language and clothing, and adapted accordingly for each region.

Each game uses a unique interface and content presentation format to examine how literacy, cultural interpretation, gender and age influence the user experience.

The three games:

In Worm Attack children learn about the importance of good hygiene and taking the medicine that is freely available for the prevention of intestinal worms. In the game players have to strategically place medicine inside the stomach of characters to prevent worms from spreading.

Nine months of pregnancy is compressed into nine minutes of arcade-style gameplay in 9-Minutes. Players are confronted with a variety of physical, medical and social choices that need to be made in a race against the clock. Players race to collect icons that represent pregnancy “do’s” for a particular month of pregnancy and to avoid icons representing the pregnancy “don’t’s.” Players have to make decisions about things like a birth plan, nutrition and antenatal care that eventually affects the wellbeing of the mother and her baby.

Family Choices is a three-episode game in which players observe a character growing up and making decisions about staying in school, gender issues, household responsibilities and poverty-related challenges.

Positive decisions lead to a golden leaf and another step toward independence and empowerment, allowing players to progress to the next episode. Negative choices put unadorned leaves in the player’s family tree, and lead to an invitation to repeat the episode to explore multiple pathways and their respective endings. As the game progresses, as in real life, the choices get harder. Episodes two and three also address early marriage, pregnancy, family planning and pursuit of higher education.The overall aim of Family Choices is to enhance the perception of girls’ place in and value to families, with an emphasis on keeping girls in school.

In all three the games adventure and simulation is used to achieve social impact. Characters in the games are potential role models and players are rewarded for positive choices. 

Sky The Sky is a finalist in the Play category of the INDEX: Award 2013

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