RePlay Positive Video Gaming Project

Competition Finalist

This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
No Private Matter! Ending Abuse in Intimate & Family Relations competition.

RePlay is a video game that engages players in a fun experience and promotes attitudes and skills that girls and boys aged 8 to 14 need to create healthy, equal interpersonal relationships. It is a collaborative initiative led by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and its narrative and gameplay fosters learning about healthy relationships and communication, warning signs of violence, diversity, community help/resources, and the prevention of sexism and violence against girls and women. The game will be released publically in May 2007.

Global statistics demonstrate that violence against women and girls is a pervasive problem, and that young women are most at risk of experiencing sexual assault, physical abuse, harassment, and stalking. Research also shows that children learn rigid notions of what it means to be a “real man” and “real woman” at an early age – the very stereotypes that lead to epidemic levels of violence against women and girls. Youth need tools to identify and challenge unhealthy relationships, gender stereotypes, and violence against women and girls. The RePlay Project seeks to do so through the medium of the video game, a popular, innovative, and effective method of connecting to diverse youth. However, in contrast to many mainstream videogames, RePlay is based on non-violent, non-stereotyping themes and raises awareness to inspire youth to challenge the acceptance of violence and unhealthy relationships in their own lives.

Replay tells the story of two friends searching for Zoe. They have heard sexist rumors about Zoe that lead them to conclude that she is caught in an abusive relationship. As the friends move through their neighbourhood to search for Zoe, they face confrontations with other youth that encourage them to work together and be respectful, confident communicators. Success in the confrontations strengthen the friends' resiliency and equip them to support Zoe once they find her.

About You

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Location

Project Street Address

Project City

Project Province/State

Project Postal/Zip Code

Project Country

n/a

Your idea

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Focus of activity

Education

Year the initiative began

2005

Position your initiative on the mosaic of solutions

Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Women’s Low Status

Which of the insights is the primary focus of your work?

Create Paths to Prevention or Remediation

If you believe some other barrier or insight should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

The RePlay video game is geared towards promoting healthy, equal relationships between youth aged 8 to 14 years old. It will challenge mainstream gender stereotypes that children learn from a young age, and that often lead to the social proliferation of violence against women and girls.

Name Your Project

RePlay Positive Video Gaming Project

Describe Your Idea

RePlay is a video game that engages players in a fun experience and promotes attitudes and skills that girls and boys aged 8 to 14 need to create healthy, equal interpersonal relationships. It is a collaborative initiative led by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and its narrative and gameplay fosters learning about healthy relationships and communication, warning signs of violence, diversity, community help/resources, and the prevention of sexism and violence against girls and women. The game will be released publically in May 2007.
Global statistics demonstrate that violence against women and girls is a pervasive problem, and that young women are most at risk of experiencing sexual assault, physical abuse, harassment, and stalking. Research also shows that children learn rigid notions of what it means to be a “real man” and “real woman” at an early age – the very stereotypes that lead to epidemic levels of violence against women and girls. Youth need tools to identify and challenge unhealthy relationships, gender stereotypes, and violence against women and girls. The RePlay Project seeks to do so through the medium of the video game, a popular, innovative, and effective method of connecting to diverse youth. However, in contrast to many mainstream videogames, RePlay is based on non-violent, non-stereotyping themes and raises awareness to inspire youth to challenge the acceptance of violence and unhealthy relationships in their own lives.
Replay tells the story of two friends searching for Zoe. They have heard sexist rumors about Zoe that lead them to conclude that she is caught in an abusive relationship. As the friends move through their neighbourhood to search for Zoe, they face confrontations with other youth that encourage them to work together and be respectful, confident communicators. Success in the confrontations strengthen the friends' resiliency and equip them to support Zoe once they find her.

Innovation

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Description of Initiative

RePlay is a video game that engages players in a fun experience and promotes attitudes and skills that girls and boys aged 8 to 14 need to create healthy, equal interpersonal relationships. It is a collaborative initiative led by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), and its narrative and gameplay fosters learning about healthy relationships and communication, warning signs of violence, diversity, community help/resources, and the prevention of sexism and violence against girls and women. The game will be released publically in May 2007.

Global statistics demonstrate that violence against women and girls is a pervasive problem, and that young women are most at risk of experiencing sexual assault, physical abuse, harassment, and stalking. Research also shows that children learn rigid notions of what it means to be a “real man” and “real woman” at an early age – the very stereotypes that lead to epidemic levels of violence against women and girls. Youth need tools to identify and challenge unhealthy relationships, gender stereotypes, and violence against women and girls. The RePlay Project seeks to do so through the medium of the video game, a popular, innovative, and effective method of connecting to diverse youth. However, in contrast to many mainstream videogames, RePlay is based on non-violent, non-stereotyping themes and raises awareness to inspire youth to challenge the acceptance of violence and unhealthy relationships in their own lives.

Replay tells the story of two friends searching for Zoe. They have heard sexist rumors about Zoe that lead them to conclude that she is caught in an abusive relationship. As the friends move through their neighbourhood to search for Zoe, they face confrontations with other youth that encourage them to work together and be respectful, confident communicators. Success in the confrontations strengthen the friends' resiliency and equip them to support Zoe once they find her.

Innovation

1. Use of video games to challenge violence: while video games may have a unique potential to depict violence, interactive games for social change can powerfully represent and elicit emotional complexity as well as provide a space for players to express their personal agency. RePlay harnesses the power of video games to allow youth to challenge everyday social realities - in particular, high levels of violence against women and girls and sexist stereotypes that continue the cycle of violence.

2. Online presence: Flash-based online games are increasingly popular amongst children and youth, as they are highly accessible and easy to play. As an online, Flash-based game, RePlay will have incredible reach that traditional consol-based games do not have.

3. Gender and power analysis: while there are some online games for social change that address issues of violence, there is rarely a gender-based analysis of violence to recognize how women and girls are particularly and risk and to make connections with widespread gender stereotypes about masculinity and femininity. RePlay's embedded analysis of global gender inequities, discrimination, and systemic power embalances is very unique in the world of video games. As such, it will ring true to the everyday experiences players - both girls and boys.

4. Collaborative development process: RePlay was designed with direct input of community members and partners, including diverse children and youth, parents, teachers, and game developers. As such, its format and narrative is grounded in diverse community needs and preferences, and the game reflects the expriences of many communities (e.g. diverse race, class, gender, sexuality, and physical ability communities).

Delivery Model

1. Media launch: in May 2007, RePlay will be launched to the public through Ontario-based media (print, television, radio, and online). This will build initial support for the game.

2. Promotion to schools: through a special Educator's kit that shows how the game can be incorporated into school curricula and community programming for 8 to 14 year olds, RePlay will be promoted to youth workers, teachers, and schools. RePlay's main funder (the Government of Ontario) and existing partnerships with Teacher Unions and community organizations will also ensure the that game reaches its audience.

3. Popular online game sites: in addition to being posted on www.metrac.org (over 1 million hits per year), RePlay will be posted on popular online game downloading sites. Some of these sites get millions of hits from around the world per month, and will ensure that RePlay is played by children and youth beyond Ontario and Canada. METRAC will track the number of downloads of RePlay to gauge the game's popularity.

4. Built-in evaluation: RePlay has an important survey feature built into the game's structure. As players enter the game, they are asked a series of short, fun multiple choice questions that give METRAC an idea of why they are playing and what their existing attitudes are. At the end of the game, players are asked follow up questions that find out if they would play the game again, what attitudinal change occurred, and what they learned from the game. Players can access the answers of other players by way of animation of youth who cheer according to how many players picked a particular answer for each question.

5. Built-in action: the game concludes with an option for players to immediately engage in real-life action to address violence against women and girls by way of a link to an Amnesty International Canada online campaign/petition. This helps youth connect their playing experience with real action on the issue.

Key Operational Partnerships

1. Direction from youth: the RePlay game's ideas and form were directed by youth through research about the game playing preferences and behaviours of young people aged 8 to 14. 250 diverse Ontario youth were surveyed and participated in focus groups to discuss what they wanted in such a game. Once released, RePlay will be tested by these youth to ensure it meets their needs.

2. Funding from the Government of Ontario: the Ontario Women's Directorate, a branch of the Ontario government, has funded and supported the creation and promotion of this game.

3. Leadership from the Intersectoral Advisory Committee: an Intersectoral Advisory Committee was created at the start of the RePlay Project to provide continual direction and feedback. The Committee consists of a variety of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, youth service providers, and technology experts.

4. Leadership from Game Developers: the game has been programmed and animated by a team of Game Developers experienced in creating online games for social change. They have infused an important perspective in the creation of RePlay, employing their successful experience in previous social justice projects.

Impact

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Financial Model

The wide range of availablity for RePlay helps ensure that marginalized and low income youth will have access to the game - either through computer/internet use at schools, community centres or public libraries, or at home. The game will be absolutely free to access and download.

What percentage, if any, of the total operating costs does earned income (from products, services, or other fees) represent?

0

How is the initiative financed? Is it financially self-sustainable or profitable? How much do beneficiaries contribute?

The initiative has a one-time development cost, provided by the Government of Ontario. Beneficiaries do not contribute to these costs. Funding from other sources (e.g. foundations, private sources, government) will be sought to allow for future reiterations/updates of the game.

Effectiveness

The game has not yet been released to the public, and the bulk of RePlay's impact will be realized at that point. However, many community partners have been influenced by the process of creating RePlay, including schools, educators, community organizations, and government supporters. Together, we have learned about and bought into the potential of games and innovative technologies to promote social change and challenge mainstream understandings of gender and violence.

How many people have benefited from your program over the last year? Which element of the program proved itself most effective?

Again, the game has not yet been released to the public, and the bulk of RePlay's impact will be realized at that point. It is projected that, within the first year of release, approximately 90,000 youth will have played the game and more than 100 Ontario schools and youth community centres will use the game in their curriculum/programming.

Scaling up Strategy

Once RePlay is released, its popularity and reach will be tracked and its playability will be tested for a years time. From the feedback youth players provide, METRAC will seek additional funding from private and public sources to expand the game and make it more complex, engaging, and fresh. By the end of the third year, we hope to release another more expanded version of the online game with new elements, features, and narrative twists.

Stage of the Initiative

0

Origin of the Initiative

RePlay began as an idea to respond to a request for proposals for an Ontario violence prevention grant. Our hope was to create a project that would use technology to challenge violence in a youth-friendly and unexpected way. From the idea, METRAC learned more about the realm of games for social change, and discovered that there was very few games that used a gender analysis to challenge violence, and very few games geared towards a specific Canadian audience. The project was born out of identifying those gaps and realizing the potential of games to help youth develop violence-free relationships.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Sustainability

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How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate?

The contest was introduced to METRAC by a phone call from Ashoka. We are compelled to participate in the hopes that more youth will learn about the RePlay game and play it.

Main Obstacles to Scaling Up

1. Financial: it can be difficult to find funds to support an innovative idea that challenges mainstream understandings and that looks at the issue of violence against women and girls as a specific problem that needs specific funding.

2. Resources: METRAC is a very small organization with a modest yearly budget. As such, we do not always have the staffing resources we need to create projects and build on them as we would like to.

Main Financial Challenges

As said before, it is difficult to find funding for unique ideas that address violence against women and girls as a specific issue. Many funders may not want to invest the money needed to create a quality game and build upon it. We anticipate that we would need approximately $50,000 (CAN) to scale up the RePlay game. We are interested in corporate funding from the technological or communications sector, as they may buy into the idea and be willing to invest finances in it more readily.

Main Partnership Challenges

It can be difficult to keep partnerships with very limited resources to compensate participants for their time and work. Compensation is important for NGO partners in particular, but few funders are willing to fund it.

395 weeks ago Julene Saunders said: Sounds very educational, interesting and fun too-perfect for youth! about this Competition Entry. - read more >
397 weeks ago RePlay Positive Video Gaming Project has been chosen as a finalist in No Private Matter! Ending Abuse in Intimate & Family Relations.