Games for Change has teamed up with Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to develop a social game about female oppression around the world.
The project seeks to raise awareness and aid for fighting global injustices against women and girls, by enabling players to purchase virtual goods that count as micro-donations to humanitarian causes. The game is described as a FarmVille
-style experience, except players must also look after women and girls in their virtual village.
Kristof will lend his expertise to the game, having spent his career covering human rights issues like gender-based violence and sex trafficking. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, who is also a Pulitzer winner and assisting with the game, authored 2009 best-seller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
The book inspired the upcoming social game, as well as Kristof and WuDunn's two-part documentary Half the Sky that will air on PBS later this year. It's all part of a multi-initiative campaign that also includes four mobile games addressing issues like maternal health, sex trafficking, and domestic violence, coming to in India, Kenya, and Tanzania.
New York City-based non-profit Games for Change is developing the untitled social game, and intends to release it in late 2012 through Facebook (and potentially other platforms). The project and larger campaign are funded by the Ford Foundation, United Nations Foundation, and other groups, but Games for Change is seeking additional backers.
"Nick and Sheryl's ideas are perfectly aligned with what we want to see moving forward — breaking the perception that games are only entertainment," said Games for Change co-president Asi Burak in an interview
with social media news site Mashable.
Burak added, "Most of the people who pick up his book or turn on PBS or even read The New York Times are already the converted. What [Kristof]'s hoping to do with social media and gaming is go to the people who aren't converted and engage them in a very sensible way."