Staying Safe From Floods Through Gamification



MDG : Thai flooding app : The Flood FighterIn many parts of the world, flooding and natural disasters can be a seasonal threat to people’s lives. While these may be a  recurrent theme in some regions, education on preventive and awareness are not always as readily adopted as humanitarian agencies would like. UNESCO-Bangkok has teamed up with software developer Opendream to address this very problem through a unique approach. They have developed a mobile-app game called Sai Fah: The Flood Fighter, a game designed to teach Thai children flood safety. The game follows a young boy through 22 informative levels as he tries to safely reach his mother. The app has been “downloaded more than 11,000 times, and there are plans to promote the English version in flood-prone areas across the Asia-Pacific region.”

The big innovation here is that the app actually appears to be fun! As The Guardian reports, children who have tested the game love it and feel that they have learned. This is the missing feature to many educational games that have been developed. The challenge that developers face is to juggle the need for entertainment without sacrificing learning outcomes. When accomplished, the game is more likely to make its way into the hands of the intended beneficiaries. By creating an identifiable character and brand, the developers are paving the way for future games that might teach the same children lessons concerning water and sanitation or healthy eating.



MDG : Thai flooding app : The Flood FighterCritics of this approach may question whether this passive learning style is the most appropriate strategy to employ. While tests may confirm that knowledge was absorbed, does that justify not spending donor money on more direct, conventional awareness projects? A limitation to the game is that people without access to mobile phones may be excluded. That being said, cheap Android phones are flooding the Global South, connecting everyone, not to mention the rise of affordable tablets and netbooks.

Whether or not the game’s lessons are being absorbed at the highest level, it is said to be fun and that catches youth’s attention. With that in mind developers and NGOs may feel more confident in producing material through new and innovative mediums.

The information gathered for this article was originally sourced from Claudine Spera’s article on The Guardian. For more information on the project, check out UNESCO’s website. The app was developed for iOS and Android by Opendream.


Eric Pires

Eric Pires

Eric Pires is a writer and co-founder of Innovate Development. He has worked in various sectors in Latin America and is currently working in Antigua, Guatemala.

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