For the later half of the year in 2020, HCDExchange has rolled out health games amongst youth in Sub Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia with the goal of increasing learning around Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and Human Centered Design (HCD). Because games have very clear metrics, we were able to track the learnings of youth around these topics specifically over time through measurement of an index score.
The games were designed for a plethora of gaming personas with distinct information access behaviors including the gaming enthusiasts, curious dabblers, indifferent disbelievers and those that fall in the vulnerable category (both in terms of access to health information and health services). The games were released on a monthly basis in line with the World Health Organization key thematic areas on ASRH. Ultimately there were 4 health games launched: HIV prevention and care, Youth Powered Design, Teenage Pregnancy Prevention and Comprehensive Sexuality Education. To reach our target of 7,000 adolescents and youth aged between 14 and 30 years in both Sub Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, HCDExchange used the following strategies:
- Leveraged 9 on-the-ground implementing partners who are youth-led, utilizing them as the main channel of distribution
- Developed both a success and incentivization strategy to engage adolescents and increase the retention rate of gamers over the 6 months period. Bi-weekly prizes of airtime (data) were distributed to those who had the highest success score and frequency of gaming
- Measured and monitored knowledge acquisition over time using an embedded analytics platform on the yeepa gaming dashboard
- As the audience was youth, HCDExchange used rich media like videos, social media platforms, and networks to disseminate and extend the reach and impact of these games
- Gaming days and tournaments were organized every month to keep the gaming momentum going and to allow gamers to interact and share experiences
There were a number of significant learnings from the 280 gaming questions that have been played over 10,000 times:
- Gaming is most cost effective when integrated into existing workshops, trainings, programmes and curriculum
- Beta testing for each gaming level allows the programmers identify weak points and undertake iteration before each launch, as well as ensure the language was easily understood by youth globally
- Offline access to the platform is key for reaching vulnerable and at-risk gamers from remote and low-resource settings who cannot access the online platform
- It is more effective to transition implementation of gaming to partners who are closer to the gamers on the ground into existing programming.
Overall, gaming was an engaging and novel way to teach complex topics such as sexual health and human centered design. However, gaming personas– everyone from gaming enthusiasts to those who have little access — need to be heeded in order to provide an inclusive experience and wide-reaching results.
The HCDExchange is a community of practice dedicated to advancing learning, evidence, and practice in human-centered design and adolescent sexual and reproductive health (HCD+ASRH). We work in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia.