Journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sherly WuDunn are on a mission to raise awareness about the basic rights and needs that many women in developing countries lack. While some in the Western world think that feminism has done its job, there are millions of women elsewhere who still lack basic medical care and are subject to crimes such as human trafficking. Kristof and WuDunn have spread their message through their Half the Sky Movement, publishing a book and presenting a PBS series, and now they are extending the message to Facebook.
The Half the Sky Game seeks to take advantage of the fact that over 300 million people play social games a month. With the book and series, Kristof felt as if he were preaching to people who were already interested in the cause, whereas the audience for social media games may not have any awareness of the issues. He told Co.Exist:
It potentially offers a way of luring people–a gateway drug, if you will, to women’s empowerment.
The game begins with an Indian character Radhika who is confronted with the difficulty of having to get her daughter medical care but does not have the funds. From there, the player must make a series of choices, and unlike other games there are no wrong answers. Along the way, Radhika travels to different countries, helping people along the way, learning about social issues and become more empowered along the way. The game requires people to consider the choices that women in these real-life situations actually have to make. Moreover, as Radhika goes along her quest, she unlocks virtual donations, which in turn prompts player with the opportunity to make a real donation as well as giving them the option to read more facts about the issue.
Half the Sky, produced by non-profit Games for Change, strikes the fine balance between being a game and educating people on very serious social issues. Co-president of Games for Change Michelle Byrd told the Guardian:
It’s definitely dealing with difficult subject matter. It’s trying to do so in ways that are engaging and light and provide you with tools to go deeper into the subject matter.
Launched on Monday, it is unclear if a game with such altruistic values will have the appeal of something like Farmville but Kristof hopes that even if people don’t play, they will see their friends’ status updates about facts they’ve learned, and donations they’ve made and perhaps will garner a little awareness themselves. The game is for Facebook users of the Western world, but Kristof has only one hope:
That the biggest effect it makes will be among people in poorer countries who have barely heard of Facebook, if at all.
See the trailer for the game below: