What casual gaming can teach us about educating underprivileged women

Casual games have been more successful with women than any other kind of game in history, and not because they’ve used a lot of pink or made shoe shopping a way to level up. Casual games fit into a hectic schedule and provide a welcome, brief, distraction. Go on Facebook for five minutes, harvest your tomatoes, and then go back to work. It’s small goal accomplished and it makes us feel good without making us feel guilty for neglecting other responsibilities.

Now imagine a woman in a small village in a third-world country (or rural Florida). She started school as child, but her family arranged a marriage for her at some ridiculously young age like 12 or 9. Her husband doesn’t want her going to school, she’s pregnant, an elderly relative moved in – whatever the reason, her time is now devoted to caring for her family. She has two options: stay home and attend to her duties as a mother, wife, and daughter – or neglect them to take classes that are inconvenient and possibly dangerous for her to attend.

Getting her to school has been the challenge that organizations like The Girl Effect have been trying to tackle for years. But maybe the answer isn’t getting her to school. Maybe it’s getting school to her.

underprivileged girls in India getting an education thanks to the girl effect sean kline
Photo credit to Karl Grobl, www.reach-global.org
Let them have iPhones!

We have the technology to provide people in rural areas with mobile, solar-powered internet access. What if this is what we distributed instead of trying to build schools and train teachers that women probably won’t see anyway? The casual game model is the perfect basis for an educational platform that would help women looking to better their lives and their communities.  Call it casual education. They could look up water filtration techniques, ask a forum about a parenting issue, or connect with someone making mosquito nets in the next village over – all between chores. It’s a small goal accomplished during a break, without feeling guilty for neglecting responsibilities. Sound familiar?

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