Half The Sky: Facebook Game Launches With Anti-Oppression Movement in Mind
I’m a snarky writer, but I’m going to take a moment, as a woman and as a crazy hippie, to discuss this new game seriously.
Yes, it’s a game. Shut up.
Half the Sky launched on Facebook just a few days ago, and it’s been quite the enlightening experience for many people who have decided to play.
The first story you encounter is the story of Radhika, a woman from India who “wants to make things better for both herself and women worldwide.” It’s all very touching. But then you discover the game isn’t just a game, and is, in fact, more like a “change the world” message in disguise.
As you travel throughout the world with Radhika, you discover new places and new people with whom to interact. Then, when you find out the importance of these people (say, a doctor), the game prompts you to donate or somehow act in the REAL world to help a real-life situation that Radhika just encountered in the game. So if Radhika encounters a doctor, the doctor usually give some info about how terrible things are at his fake hospital and how you can help.
Then the game ambushes you and says SURPRISE! This is really happening. Do something!
And if you do something, you get rewarded in the game, too—which is cool for us Facebook junkies who like exclusive awards only we can flaunt.
You play Radhika the way you want to play her – either as a timid woman or a strong, independent bitch – and your rewards are different depending on your choices. For example, in the first scene of the game, bad crap is going down with your husband about your daughter. You can choose to speak up to him or you can remain silent. If you speak up, your first award is going on the quest of, “Speak Up and Save a Life!”
Save a life, huh?
It seems kind of silly to think that a game which aims to end oppression against women and build awareness of the horrors going on in places not our homes could ever possibly save a life.
But you know what seems DAMN ridiculous?
That a real woman somewhere – someone like this dumb cartoon Radhika lady – has to beg and borrow and sell everything she has just to have her daughter seen by a doctor. A family somewhere has to struggle to get their kids vaccinated for diseases we eliminated in the US and other first-world countries decades ago. A single father has to figure out how he’s going to get his son to the hospital that’s miles and miles away.
That’s what is damn ridiculous, and that’s what the game is trying to point out.
Even if you don’t have any cash to spend on vaccines for kids who need them or some other real-life donation to needy families, then just by playing and working your way through the levels, you earn points that build up on a meter in the corner. When that meter becomes full, one of the game’s sponsors (like Johnson & Johnson) will donate whatever prize is at the top of your meter, like money or food for hungry kids. Sometimes you can even earn books for children in classrooms that don’t have the learning material they need.
I hate Facebook games. I hate how they profit off of stupid people and instant gratification. But… maybe this one is the start of a big change. Or maybe it’s just a one-shot wonder kind of thing, but still. It could mean something to people and I think that’s better than some damn Farmville rip-off.
Well done, Zynga. This is probably the only game that’s ever going to mean something to anyone.
[Image via Half The Sky]
I want more stuff like this!