MLINDE GAME: ENJOY YOUR HEALTH – AND PROTECT HERS
Teaching young men about HIV/AIDS through gamification
HIV is one of the leading causes of death in Tanzania (CDC) affecting 780,000 women (UNAIDS). Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are at a higher risk for dying from HIV compared to other demographic groups. Although many initiatives exist to fight disease in Tanzania, many people lack proper knowledge and easy access to information. As a result, people rely on limited and/or outdated information when making health-related decisions. Even for those who already know about their health issues, it can be difficult to access medical information. Government ministries and NGOs are generating a lot of data, but much of the data is project-specific and cannot be easily utilized by society.
Photo Credit: Iroko Muhidini and Leyla Liana
Insufficient knowledge among young men about HIV/AIDS and a lack of behavior-change programs targeting young men – especially regarding specific behaviors that can protect AGYW from HIV/AIDS – are significant challenges in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. By using current data to identify gaps in HIV/AIDS knowledge and high-risk practices among young men aged 15 to 24 in Dodoma’s colleges and universities, Leyla Liana and her team hope to tackle this issue. Thinking beyond traditional media, the team is developing a game that will educate these male partners, encourage behavior change, and collect data about behavior preferences that can inform outreach efforts.
Gamification has been demonstrated to be a powerful tool in changing a person’s behavior, and applying it to the fight against HIV/AIDS presents an innovative approach to supplementing the reach of traditional media. Mlinde is a mobile game application that will improve players’ knowledge of HIV/AIDS and generate data about players’ decisions that can be used to target behavior change solutions to this population.
In order to understand the needs of the target audience, the Mlinde team conducted a needs analysis as part of an HIV/AIDS Regional Stakeholders Workshop. Collecting requirements from the target audience – young men aged 15 to 24 at the University of Dodoma and Mipango Institute – the team was able to analyze the knowledge and practices of the target population relating to HIV/AIDS. The team drafted preliminary designs based on this information and is now working to develop the first prototype of the Mlinde game.
Screenshots showing the Mlinde Game Start Screens, Level 1and Level 1 Game Play
Outcomes and Impacts
The primary impacts anticipated from the Mlinde game are increased awareness of behaviors that augment the risk of HIV infection for the players (young men) and their female sexual partners. Gamification to change these risky behaviors should lead to a reduction in the spread of HIV. As a secondary benefit, data collected from the game will be shared with other stakeholders in the health sector to help them target their own interventions.