"RePlay: Finding Zoe" Video Game

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"RePlay: Finding Zoe" Video Game

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

RePlay: Finding Zoe is a unique online video game that promotes the creation of healthy, equal, and non-violent relationships between girls and boys.

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Dual Stigma

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

Emotional Health

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

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

RePlay: Finding Zoe is a unique online video game that promotes the creation of healthy, equal, and non-violent relationships between girls and boys.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Global statistics demonstrate that violence against women and girls is a pervasive health problem, and that young women are most at risk of experiencing sexual assault, physical abuse, harassment, and stalking. Research also shows that children are socialized into rigid notions of what it means to be a “real man” and “real woman” at an early age – which leads to epidemic levels of violence against women and girls. However, there are few community based technological initiatives that challenge the proliferation of gender based violence and many mainstream videogames include violent, gender-stereotyping themes. RePlay is unique because it utilizes the powerful medium of video games to promote healthy relationships between girls and boys, raise awareness, and inspire youth to challenge the acceptance of violence and unhealthy relationships in their own lives.

A unique partnership was formed between METRAC and Take Action Games to create RePlay, and more than 250 youth interviewed.

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

Violence against women and girls is still widely normalized in society and media. As such, the incredible negative health and economical impacts it has worldwide on individuals and communities is too often left unnoticed. Additionally, there is a lack of violence prevention resources for children and youth, especially ones that are current, innovative, connected to real-life services, youth-friendly, and that challenge mainstream understandings of being a "real man" and a "real woman".

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

RePlay: Finding Zoe was launched in June 2007 on METRAC's website, metrac.org (over 1 million hits per year). It was created with the input and ideas of more than 250 young people, and led by an intersectoral advisory committee of grassroots organizations, teachers, and technological industry representatives. This collaborative process allowed us to create a truly unique game that includes interactive surveys so players can see what other players think about the issues, a diverse character generator, connections to real services, and impactful, emotional content.

The game is being marketed throughout the Province of Ontario through its funder, the Ontario Women's Directorate. Thousands of accompanying educational handbooks for teachers, youth workers, parents, and youth are being distributed across Ontario, encouraging the game's incorporation into school curriculum, community programming, home life, and play.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

RePlay is continuing to be marketed for use in schools, homes, and community settings. Additional funding has been approved for the game to be translated to other languages, and corporate/government funding is currently being sought to enhance the online play experience as well as build versions of the game on other platforms.

Provide one sentence describing your impact.

Based on short-term testing, RePlay is a forum for players to challenge gender stereotypes, identify warning signs of violence, and learn of services.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Children and youth aged 8 to 14 have had increased access to violence prevention resources through RePlay. They have learned about the warning signs of violence, what healthy relationships are, and what community services are available to help them.

Additionally, youth workers, teachers, and parents have also gained access to a powerful, youth-friendly tool to help children become engaged in learning about healthy, equal relationships between boys and girls.

How many people have you served directly?

So far, more than 1500 diverse youth, teachers, service providers, and parents have been served directly by:

- Playing the free game online
- Accessing and distributing handbooks and zines that accompany the game and that build upon it as a learning tool in the classroom and home

How many people have you served indirectly?

Approximately 2000 youth, teachers, parents, and service providers have been served indirectly through:

- Participating in the process of brainstorming and creating the game itself
- Accessing the game and accompanying materials online, through links from partnering organizations and the Government of Ontario

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

RePlay: Finding Zoe was tested with young players and, by and large, feedback was positive. Most players reported that the game was fun, engaging, and that they would recommend it to a friend. Most players also indicated that they learned about healthy relationships and where they could go for help . Additionally, the pre and post play survey imbedded in the game indicates that most players enjoyed the game, would recommend it to a friend, and learned something new about the issues.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

It is difficult to keep an accurate measure of the number of people who play the game and how they use it, as it is freely available online. Also, players have the option of skipping the pre and post game survey, and as such, it is not an accurate representation of the number of players. As the game was created through one-time project funding to METRAC (a non-profit organization), there are no ongoing funds to continue measuring the impact of the game in other ways.

How is your initiative financed?

RePlay: Finding Zoe was created with one-time project funding over a period of 3 years from the Government of Ontario.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

METRAC as an organization has an annual operating budget of approximately $520,000 CAN per year. 58% of those funds are given through municipal and provincial grants, 30% is provided by foundations, and 12% is provided by fee-for-service work, fundraising initiatives, and corporate giving. RePlay: Finding Zoe was given a one-time grant of approximately $96,000 CAN. As it is a government-funded initiative, no funds are generated by the game.

METRAC has a compliment of 5 full-time staff, 2-4 part time staff, and a volunteer team of approximately 50 people who work on our Board of Directors and within our programs. We are a small organization with dedicated staff and volunteers and innovative ideas on how to make a difference.

RePlay was developed in partnership between METRAC and the game studio Take Action Games (developers of the award winning Darfur is Dying online game). It was also developed in partnership with our funder and other community based organizations.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

RePlay is a powerful tool that reaches out to youth, teachers, parents, and youth workers. Its accompanying tools make it an excellent resource for those who work with youth, and the game itself is highly accessible by players directly. Games can speak of sobering real world issues and afford ways to be responsibly engaged in participatory digital culture. RePlay was designed to connect with the needs and diverse identities of young people. As such, its potential demand is high.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

While the game and its materials are already developed and available online, ongoing improvements are difficult to make as it was funded with a one-time grant. Other grants and additional funding must then be sought to build upon RePlay and to promote it further to diverse communities and players. METRAC is a small, under-resourced agency, which makes it difficult to engage in any initiative without the support of a generous funder.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

In discussion with her colleagues, METRAC's Executive Director formed the idea of creating a video game to do prevention and healthy relationship work with children and youth. As METRAC's focus is on preventing the proliferation of violence against women and children, the idea fell in line with our existing programming. Not long after, a grant was announced from the Government of Ontario to address issues of promoting healthy, equal relationships with young people. METRAC sent in a successful grant application to do this initiative.

Through a call for proposals, METRAC met the developers at Take Action Games. We were already impressed with their existing game, Darfur is Dying, which sought to address the current humanitarian crisis in The Sudan via gameplay that offered immediate, simple and effective tools for change. We were able to create a fruitful partnership, and with the direction of more than 250 youth and more than 15 service providers, RePlay: Finding Zoe was developed.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Andrea Gunraj is Outreach Manager at the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC). She has many years of experience doing violence prevention work in community settings, as well as program coordination, group facilitation on gender-based violence and sexual health, and public education from an anti-oppression framework. Andrea has a masters degree in Criminology.

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

METRAC and Take Action Games had met an Ashoka Team member at the Games 4 Change conference in NYC (Karin Hillhouse, Director, Changemakers Strategic Partnerships) and were encouraged to participate.