Over 300 million people worldwide play casual games on social networks like Facebook, spending over $20 a month on average. A new free Facebook game is trying to drive some of those millions toward making real change in the world.
Sheryl WuDunn and her husband, Nicholas Kristof, launched their global movement for the equality of women, Half the Sky , with a book. They followed up with a PBS documentary series. “An important future indicator for a developing economy is its treatment of women,” WuDunn told Fast Company, dubbing gender equality “the best way to fight poverty and extremism.”
Half the Sky Movement: The Game, developed in partnership with the nonprofit Games for Change, is their latest step to bring that message to a much larger audience. It breaks the mold of other games-for-change by trying to raise money at the same time as it raises awareness.
Players take the perspective of Radhika, a mother who travels from India to Vietnam, Kenya to Afghanistan making discoveries and tough choices on behalf of women. By getting to certain levels you unlock pledges from corporate sponsors like Johnson and Johnson and Pearson in the real world; you can move through the game even faster by putting up your own money to nonprofits like the Heifer Project.
The creators hope to persuade 2- to 5-million players to sign up for free, and that at least 5 percent of those will donate. But no one really knows–this has never been tried before.
This isn’t the only set of games launched by Half the Sky, either. Earlier this year developers debuted a series of mobile-phone games aimed at the developing world. Designed to work on relative “dumbphones,” the games raise awareness about issues such as prenatal health and the status of girls.