Fighting Malaria Through Videogames

Videogames are a great tool for learning and raising awareness of social issues in the world. They often times get overlooked because of lack of coverage or people just don’t care. One game that has been getting recognition is Mosquito Hood by Momentum Core.

The game consists of the player swatting mosquitos and gets more difficult with each level. When the player defeats the game, the Kenyan government donates an insecticide treated mosquito net to a family in areas that are high risk for malaria.

A lot of games that make promises like this aren’t always honest, but through Mosquito Hood, more than 1,400 nets have been delivered since the game launched in 2013. Not only that, but the Malaria Control Department of the Kenya Ministry of Health, along with other NGOs will help the families who get the nets to get information on malaria prevention.  Momentum Core is also working on an offline version of the game for schools and youth groups.

All this is a pretty big deal. Over half a million people die from malaria each year, and 90% of those deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to insecticide treated nets, malaria transmission drops by 50% and child deaths by 20% when used properly.

This isn’t the only game that Momentum Core is working on. The Nairobi based company also has a game to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Pamoja Mtaani, which is Swahili for Together in the Hood, is a game where players have to put together a puzzle to reveal images with information on the illness, and it features five East African characters and their experience with HIV/AIDS. The puzzles have to be completed within the time limit or by using a certain number of moves.

CEO Allan Mukhwana told HumanIPO,  “At Momentum Core we wish the game to be an effective way of influencing behavioural changes in young players who play the game from an early age. Education is more than reading, writing and arithmetic. An important component in any educational system should be health education.”

There are roughly 35 million people in the world with HIV/AIDS, and 69% of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. While there are movements to help prevent spreading it, education is an important tool needed to do that.

“Health education deals with influencing or changing attitudes and behavior, with life skills. Such education is promoted by teachers’ unions at national level, but also requires international support and initiatives such as this game by Momentum Core. The educational system is the most important means of reaching young people to stop the spread of AIDS,” Mukhwana said.

Right now, the African gaming industry is still in it’s infancy. In 2012 it generated roughly 2.2 billion in revenue, and is expected to reach 3.3 billion by 2017. The level of access to broadband is fairly low, so console and PC gaming isn’t as popular, but mobile gaming is fairly big.

If games help to fight these social issues and raise awareness, then why not develop them. Certain touchy subjects can become more acceptable and with more education can help reduce numbers.