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Gamified Cause Marketing and Half the Sky

Half the Sky started out as a book about the shocking oppression and exploitation of women… especially in the developing world… from New York Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, then it became a multi-part special on PBS and now it’s a Facebook game produced by Games for Change and designed by Frima Studio.

I didn’t think that the PBS special captured the pathos of the book, in part because the way into the TV show was mediated by Hollywood stars; Eve Mendes, Meg Ryan, Olivia Wilde, Diane Lane. The actors could only react to the horrors they saw and heard about and I didn’t think it often worked. I got the sense the actors were sort of helicoptered in, reacted while the cameras rolled and then went back home, sincerely moved perhaps, but not fully able to transfer their heartache to me. It felt forced.

Kristof and WuDunn, by contrast, with just their notepads, have seen firsthand all the horrors depicted in the book, not recounted for the cameras and the actors. As a result, the book seemed much more authentic.  

The game is mediated by a character named Radhika, a mother of two, who starts in India and then makes her way to Kenya, Vietnam and Afghanistan, before landing in the United States.

Along the way she engages in difficult conversations and situations, oftentimes with other women, but also with oppressive men, and you as the player choose how she reacts. Sprinkled throughout are smaller games that help Radhika achieve her goals.

Will this work better than did the PBS series? I'll let you know after I've had more chance to play it.

Zynga, Intel and others funded the games development. Sponsors like Johnson and Johnson and the Pearson Foundation provided funds that get unlocked during the course of play and are provided to specific nonprofits and NGOs.

I like gamified cause marketing a lot and I think it’s a big part of the future of cause marketing. But I hope that the sponsors provide guaranteed funding at some level and then let play of the game trigger the remainder.

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