Social cause gaming: The next Candy Crush?

Brittany Jordan
Brittany Jordan

Released this year, Half the Sky Movement created a game on Facebook that is aimed to educate people about women’s issues around the world, such as child prostitution and female genital mutilation.

And this is not the first of its kind. There are already games out there, created by Games for Change, that are about sex trafficking, HIV, and other political maneuvers.

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So, is it really that we feel that we have to be entertained in order to deign ourselves to learn about social issues that should matter to us anyway?

I understand that social media is a huge part of just about everyone’s life now. I also understand that those same social media sites can be used as a platform for causes that people are passionate about. But I think it is absolutely ridiculous that we, in the developed world, need to create games about societal issues in order for people to care. It is sickening that we cannot take the initiative to educate ourselves on global issues and help accordingly, without the use of games on Facebook.

That being said, this game is startlingly effective: it just hit one million players on August 27th.

Throughout the game, the player will have chances to make real-life donations to Half the Sky Movement to help actual women that are represented in the game, and they just recently got $219,800 that allegedly went to books and $136,000 that allegedly went to surgeries. If the money actually makes it to the oppressed women that the game is trying to educate the general public on, then that would be a pretty decent start.

But what really gets me is that one million people are more than happy to log on and play this game, and then whip out their checkbooks, but hardly any of them are actually willing to get their hands dirty and do tangible work. Why is it that people are more than happy to sit behind a computer screen and virtually experience the life of an oppressed women, but adamantly refuse to take the time, effort, and energy to physically go and experience what life is like for those in the developing world?

I am all for helping those that need it. I have done a lot of mission work myself, and it has changed my life and my perspective about the privileges that I have been given living in the good old USA. But I am not one to advocate for throwing money at organizations in order to avoid having the social issues plaguing the less-than-privileged affect your life in any real way. If you want to help, there are better, more tangible, ways than pulling out your credit card mid-level.

I am not surprised that the maneuver of creating a game is more effective than any form of advertising that the folks at Half the Sky Movement have come up with thus far. But if that is the new tactic that people have to go to in order to educate the public, that’s pretty pathetic. It is not that difficult to take initiative and educate yourself about societal issues such as child prostitution or sex trafficking without the use of entertainment. No, these topics aren’t fun and may not be where your passion is, but the fact that the lives of oppressed women and children are now being used for our entertainment is sickening.

If you go and visit the Half the Sky Movement: The Game’s Facebook page, you will see people posting on the timeline for advice on how to move to the next level, or people wondering about other games that Games for Change may launch. For all intents and purposes, it’s just like any other Facebook game. Except that I can guarantee you that most of the players will never know what true oppression is like. Why? Because they refuse get out from behind their computer screen and inconvenience themselves enough to actually help.

Yes, I admire the creators behind the game. I admire them for trying to educate the privileged on what it can be like to walk a mile in these women’s shoes. I admire them for stooping to this level to try and impact as many people as possible. But it is discouraging to me that this is what it takes for people to learn about what life is like beyond the glow of the computer screen.

Want to help? Go out and physically do something about it.

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Brittany Jordan is a junior psychology major. Feedback of all varieties can be sent to letters@collegian.com.