Mobile Games: Learning About AIDS by Playing Cricket with Condoms

Posted by CorinneRamey on May 10, 2008

In a mobile phone game in India, a cricket match is played between the teams Demons XI and Safety XI. A report about the game describes it as a “cricket-based game involving balls in the form of condoms, faithful partners, information on HIV and the symbolic AIDS red ribbon.” A team wins by avoiding “googlies and doosra balls - unsafe sex, infected blood transfusions, infected syringes and the company of bad friends.”

The game is part of a growing market of "edutainment" mobile phone games -- games that are designed to provide entertainment and be educational at the same time. MobileActive interviewed Hilmi Quraishi, project director of ZMQ Software Systems, to learn more about the project. Hilmi said that when ZMQ was founded in 2003, it wasn't with the intention of developing games for mobile phones. "Initially we were focused on designing technology solutions for the Internet, but then we realized that in order to expand our reach we need to use technology that is reaching the common man," he said. "Mobile is one of the prime areas that we foresee as the tool in the hand of the common man for social development. It's a device which reaches out to million and millions of people in the developing world." Hilmi calls ZMQ, which is based in New Delhi, India, a "hybrid" company; it has both a profit and nonprofit component. The four AIDS games are the part of the nonprofit side as well as part of ZMQ's Freedom HIV/AIDS initiative.

According to Quraishi, about 13.5 million people have downloaded the games. About 74% of players are between the ages of 16-35, and about 65% of players are male and 35% female. Quraishi said that the games were aimed at Indians who may not have other methods of learning about HIV/AIDS. "What we are trying to accomplish in the end is knowledge solutions, tools, and services for the people at the bottom of the pyramid," he said.

ZMQ is not alone in the mobile edutainment business. MILLEE, or Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies, is a pilot project that uses mobile games to teach English literacy to Indian children. The games, like those developed by ZMQ, were constructed with the intention of entertainment first, so that users wouldn't even realize they were learning until they were already engrossed in the games."The kids weren't liking school, and they didn't come because they felt it was boring. So this was a good reason to do games for learning instead, to make education more compelling and engaging," Matthew Kam told MobileActive.

For an article on ZMQ in June 2008 Edition of Development Outreach Magazine of World Bank Institute, click here. Watch this YouTube video for screenshots of the games and more information.

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