The next time someone asks why you spend so much time on Facebook, you can tell them you’re changing the world. The New York Times best-selling book, Half the Sky, has spun off a brand new Facebook game aimed at raising awareness for the oppression of women around the world.
Half the Sky: The Game takes players on a journey that starts in India and travels through some of the places in the world where women are fighting for a voice, including Kenya and Afghanistan.
The game starts with players seeing the world through the eyes of Radhika, an Indian woman who has a very sick daughter. Through a fun mini-game, you collect mangoes and sell them in the market to pay for a taxi ride to the clinic and treatment for your daughter. From there, you can unlock games to collect items like hay and goat’s milk. Each step of the way, you have to make decisions, like whether or not to speak up to your husband. Every 30 seconds, you earn energy, which you can use to play the mini-games and earn even more money to pay for upgrades to your house and other items you need to survive.
Radhika is just one of the women you’ll meet in this game, which uses its mini-games and quests to teach you about how doing things independently as a women can be dangerous in some parts of the world. Half the Sky: The Game doesn’t just focus on women in developing nations, which is part of what makes this message so important. The game ends in the United States, a country where many would assume women’s rights issues are less of a problem.
Your actions in the game correlate to real-world donations from the games sponsors. For example, by unlocking books in the game, you’ll be sending real-life books to the charity Room to Read. The more you play, the closer you’ll get to unlocking gifts as well, and these gifts are actual donations from the game’s sponsors. You can also donate directly at any time to partner non-profits, such as Heifer International and the United Nations Foundation, which will give you extra money in the game.
Large brands are also getting involved. Half the Sky: The Game is sponsored by Ford Foundation and Zynga, and smaller brands such as Rockefeller Foundation, Intel Corporation, United Nations Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts are also lending their support.
The Half the Sky movement includes not only a book and this new Facebook game, but also two-part documentary featuring celebrity advocates such as America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, and Olivia Wilde, as well as several unsung heroes—women around the world dealing with oppression and fighting to change the situation, often putting their own lives at risk. It’s available for purchase on DVD, and you can also view the film on Netflix.
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Allison Boyer is the Online Education Coordinator for NMX University, where you can learn more about blogging, podcasting, web TV, and social business. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister.