This piece is a guest contribution from Wendi Ndaki. A freelance writer at the intersection of games, art and IT.
My deep respect for games started right after high school. I was idle at home waiting to receive communication from the universities I had applied to.
One day my mother came home with her work laptop. It was relatively new and I liked how you could move around with it. The other home computer was pretty much stuck in one place.
It was only natural for me to be fascinated by this new contraption. So I curiously started exploring whatever was within and that is how I stumbled upon Mavis Beacon.
Mavis Beacon is a game that teaches typing, with fun quests to accomplish, accompanied by interesting music and animations that make the whole experience memorable.
I love animations. So the fact that Mavis Beacon was filled with colourful animations only made my quest for fast typing skills achievable in the most fun and engaging way.
In less than two months I had finished the training and could comfortably type fast and accurately while looking at the screen.
It is important to note that even before most of us knew what gamification was, we had already experienced it. Like I did with Mavis Beacon.
Your first experience might have been at the local supermarket, by using the loyalty card to earn points every time you shopped there that you could redeem later on to get something for free.
Gamification simply put, is the fusion of the gaming principles, structural elements, design patterns, and psychological insights that make games fun and engaging – with existing processes in non-game environments such as education, health, marketing and business – to facilitate efficiency in those processes and encourage engagement.
If I may add, another great international example of gamification in education is Duolingo. Duolingo is a language learning platform that uses interactive storytelling, competition through the use of leaderboards that rank students according to points earned during practice, immediate feedback every time you hit and supersede your daily goal, and a graph that helps you track your progress – just to mention a few.
On the day of typing this, I am on my 342 day of learning German on Duolingo as indicated by the fire symbol above.
Without further ado let’s jump right into 8 gamification solutions that are specifically tailored for the African continent.
- My Jorley
It’s a game that was launched by Leti Arts in Ghana that is educating Ghanaian youth about sexual health issues.
2. Hello Nurse
It’s another game by Leti Arts that helps trainee midwives and nurses diagnose and treat malaria.
3. Mosquito Smasher
It’s a mobile game that was created by Maliyo games in Nigeria to raise awareness of malaria and sensitize people about the need to cultivate good hygiene habits.
Is a game that was created by Afroes in South Africa and it aims to empower young audiences to prevent or act when they encounter gender-based violence.
It is a game developed by Kola Studios in Uganda and was voted the funniest game at Garage48 Kampala. ZWord uses zombie destruction and combines the properties of educational games with popular culture to help players learn how to spell.
6. Ananse The Teacher
It’s an app that makes reading and learning STEAM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) fun while promoting Ghanaian culture and identity. Notice the inclusion of the arts which are usually left out in the STEM acronym as we know it.
7. The Bottom Line
It is a game that has been used in Kenya to illustrate the private sector’s role in urban sanitation service delivery. It brings to life the challenges a budding business owner will have to overcome in the development of a successful venture in sanitation service provision.
The game guides players through the 4 stages of running a business
- Starting up
- Building a customer base
- Maintaining a viable business &
- Scaling up
8. Fun Learning
It’s a learning from home product that is powered by Kytabu, a Kenyan company. It has a Games and Fitness category that only requires one’s name and contact details to enrol in.
There are lessons on playing bano which was a game that would be played outdoors in Kenya in the 1980s and 1990s. It also has exercise lessons that keep the learner motivated to workout especially now that they are home because of the Covid pandemic.
I hope this list inspires more innovations in the gamification space. My deep respect for gamified systems continues with my fun learning on Kytabu and language learning on Duolingo. It would be great to have more gamified solutions from the continent that aid the growing young continent inhabitants in building essential life skills.
Do you know of other gamification solutions from the continent? Feel free to leave them in the comment section and together, let us inspire more innovations.