NY Times journalist plans Facebook game for women's rights

Half the Sky book
Half the Sky book

Back in 2009, Pulitzer-prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn published Half the Sky, a non-fiction book highlighting the global oppression of women and how its evils pose "the central moral challenge of our time." Its title comes from a Chinese proverb often attributed to Mao Zedong that "women hold up half the sky", and yet, in most parts of the world, they are abused and undervalued. Amidst a sea of positive reviews, the book became a national bestseller that year, holding the bestseller list for seven week's straight.

But the book was only the beginning, as the authors tried various other ways to get their message out, via transmedia projects ranging from online videos to concerts. Among the many tools being employed, Kristof has become a big believer in the power of social games:

I think gaming might be the next big platform for news organizations and causes. There's some snobbery about games. Some people think games are just "what teenagers do" or that they are too fun to be worthy of our attention. But there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time playing games online, so we in the news business would do well to think about how we can use games to attract eyeballs. My wife and I are doing a TV documentary of our book Half the Sky, but we're also creating a Facebook game as part of it.

This is why he partnered with Games for Change (G4C) to build several social games based on the book, one of which will be on Facebook. UK-based Mudlark and ZMQ in India will be developing four games for mobile phones. But to reach the widest audience -- "people who may not necessarily engage with the book, the New York Times, or PBS" -- Facebook is seen as the answer. The game's release will follow a "Half the Sky" four-hour PBS documentary series scheduled for this fall.

As for the game itself, details are sparse, but Kristof describes it as "analogous to FarmVille" and set in a village where you're tasked to care for women and girls, and that involves managing schools and refugee camps. Besides that, players will also be given more direct ways to contribute to the cause.

[Hat-tip: Fast Company]

Have you heard of "Half the Sky" before? Do you think the concept for the game has enough appeal to reach a wide audience? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment

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