Designing 'The Don't Hit Game'

Students at Vermont’s Champlain College are trying to design an anti-violence game aimed at South African youths, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The design team visited South Africa to understand young people’s beliefs and how they use technology.

“Some of the girls didn’t want to ever get married because of domestic violence,” says senior Amanda Jones. “When we asked them about the ideal husband, they used phrases like ‘won’t abandon the family,’ ‘respects me,’ etc. The boys say [the violence] is not right, but at the same time they’re like, ‘Well, a lot of times women run to the police when it’s not necessary.’ ”

The project is funded by the UN Population Fund and also involves the Vermont-based Population Media Center (PMC), which “has produced radio and TV dramas all over the world to promote family planning, health, and women’s rights.”

The dramas are based on the Sabido methodology – creating a story with characters that evolve to match positive role models.

Taking a cue from that method, “we’re really not preaching to them,” says game-design student Lauren Nishikawa. “The issue [of gender violence] comes up as part of the story line. The important part is, if anything negative happens, there is a punishment … and a solution offered.”

After a two-year radio drama by PMC ran in Ethiopia, demand for contraceptives rose 157 percent, and the portion of men who recognized the importance of girls’ education went up by 52 percentage points, according to an independent study by Birhan Research in Addis Ababa. The drama addressed the abduction of girls and resulted in more punishment of such crimes and a greater willingness to send daughters to school.

A Canadian game teaching kids to be aware of Internet dangers is credited with the arrests of five online predators.

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