Mobile games are recognized as an important behavioral change tool that is sustainable and fun. Structured properly, mobile games have potential to catalyze new conversations about menstruation and challenge longstanding taboos and norms.
Understanding the potential reach, the Pragati team has adapted three Pragati games for free download on Android-based mobile phones. The goal is to use the interactive nature of video games to raise awareness, engage, and inspire behavioral change around culturally sensitive topics among adolescents and young adults in Nepal (and eventually in other countries).
Named “Nari Paila” (Women First), the mobile games utilize characters in the Nepali folklore and daily lives in combination with one family’s journey through reproductive health decision making. Individuals model positive discussions while they learn about menstruation, menstrual hygiene management, fertility awareness, family planning, and son preference through a series of games created by Bakhri, the wise goat. Bakhri’s nemesis, the Yeti, interjects regularly to challenge players with false information and impedes their progress toward game completion.
Players can choose to play the games as one of three different avatars and select various difficulty levels. The games provide behavioral nudges in the form of reward structures and iterative messaging. The player is incentivized to earn coins that can be used in a virtual market place to purchase clothes for the goat.
The son (Bijay) is married. He and his wife are trying to have a child. Bakhri uses the metaphor of waterwheel and planting a seed to teach Bijay about the menstrual cycle and fertile days. Different color buckets contain different amounts of water (representing pregnancy risk) and Yetis try to capture Bijay as he travels back and forth to the waterwheel.
Ramu learns that his friend Sani had her first period. He is filled with questions and wants to be helpful to Sani. His sister Sita provides basic information and then turns to one of Bakhri’s games to teach Ramu more about the menstrual cycle and periods. This game of agility and anticipation asks players to catch menstrual hygiene products such as tampons, pads, clean cloths and menstrual cups to gain points. Those items drop down at the same time as Yetis and other inappropriate menstrual hygiene management items. Through this process, players earn keys that unlock critical information about menstrual hygiene management.
The grandmother wants a great grandson and feels it’s up to her granddaughter in-law, Sita, to make it happen. Through a game, Bakhri explains the realities of sex determination (X & Y chromosomes), emphasizing that neither men nor women are responsible for the sex of a baby, while promoting the value of both boys and girls.
After daughter in-law, Sita, has had her first child, she wants to wait before having a second until after completing her education. She is interested to learn about her family planning options. Bakhri has created a puzzle for her to complete in order to learn more about the available methods in Nepal and understand any relevant side-effects. Sita must select puzzle pieces that reflect real side-effects from piles where the Yeti has included several myths about family planning methods.