CEO Bill Brindley recently wrote a blog—“What Gaming Means for Our Youth”—that looked at how gaming can empower youth with tools and knowledge to ease their transition into adulthood. With youth becoming increasingly connected and ‘tech-savy’, gaming offers a great vehicle to deliver information to youth in a creative and fun way.
But what are social games, and how is NetHope involved now and in the future?
Types & Tweaks
Social games vary in intention; some are considered to be “direct impact” games that target specific audiences for proven outcomes, while others center around news, documentaries, educational goals, community engagement or cross-media campaigns.
To foster a culture of peace in South Africa, Phaphama Initiatives and Butterfly Works created an interactive mobile game and e-learning CD-ROM program called “Words over Weapons” that teaches non-violent communication skills with engaging local content. Users learn how to improve interpersonal relationships and prevent violence through a series of cartoons and assignments delivered on a color-screen mobile phone. Users can share the program with others via Bluetooth or cable.
Games can be tweaked to address different challenges or include local content from other regions. Butterfly Works created another social game with a design similar to “Words over Weapons” called “Learning about Living,” which uses cartoon peer educators to teach Nigerians how to combat AIDS.
Connection, Collaboration and Innovation in Gaming
Next week (June 20-22), NetHope will attend the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival, which unites social gaming creators, academia, the gaming industry, civil society, media and the public at the largest gaming event in New York City. The festival features game demonstrations, speakers, an awards ceremony and pre-festival workshops including a keynote from former Vice President Al Gore about the importance of new media to spread social change messages.
Of the pre-festival summit workshops, NetHope will help present “The Case For Social Impact Games” to funders, implementing partners and game designers interested making games around public health, global development, education and civic engagement.
USAID GBI Alliance Chief of Party Erin Mote will moderate a talk on “International Aid Programs, Social Media, Gaming and Mobile: The New Frontier,” with participation by Emer Beamer, co-founder and research and development director at Butterfly Works, Colleen Macklin and Subhi Quraishi.
NetHope and USAID, through IYCE, hopes to forge the influential private-public partnerships that bring together key players in ICT, computer and video games, private enterprise and foundations. This support will help propel serious social gaming initiatives to new heights, widening the range of issues these games confront and making the creative, interactive games available to more youth worldwide.