Go Nisha Go, a mobile game designed with and for adolescent girls in India, was named “Best Serious Game” at the Gala2023 Serious Games competition in Dublin, Ireland. Led by Howard Delafield International (HDI), it was created by the USAID-funded Game of Choice, Not Chance direct-to-consumer initiative giving players access to vital resources, products, and services right in the game. Through the power of play, they can discover more about relationships, consent, reproductive health, and personal agency. As girls guide their avatar, Nisha, through various life scenarios, they learn about the importance of choice-making and how the decisions they make shape their future.
Adolescence can often be disrupted by early marriage, unwanted pregnancies, and lack of knowledge regarding contraceptives, compounded by a lack of access to credible resources as well as sanitation facilities and products. With the increase in mobile phone penetration across India, HDI recognized the potential of mobile technology as a transformative tool for outreach and education. Apps and online gaming are increasingly becoming an efficient and practical way to reach youth, giving them direct access to the reliable information and vital products they need.
Go Nisha Go is not just a game, it’s an innovative tool designed to assist adolescent girls in navigating the unique challenges they commonly face in India during this formative period. By ensuring that girls have the confidence to negotiate relationships, access to reproductive health resources, prioritizing their education and career opportunities, and addressing the challenges of early marriage and pregnancy, they are less likely to drop out of school and are more inclined to pursue a career and education, gain financial independence, and contribute to a more dynamic, equitable society.
Dr. Susan Howard, Co-founder of HDI and the visionary behind Go Nisha Go, shared what inspired her to bring the game to life: “I know first-hand that choices can change the trajectory of one’s life. My mom had very clear goals as a young woman. She had ambitions to not only finish school, but to move from India and study in the United States. She negotiated with her parents to delay marriage in pursuit of her education and compromised by marrying after she graduated. I think of her choices and about how her life may have turned out very differently if she hadn’t followed her ambitions—and as a result, how my life might have turned out differently. Her story is very much reflected in the game and the avatar, Nisha, the dreamer, is a reflection of my mother. She would be proud to hear the game has been recognized for its creativity and precision, as am I.”
HDI continues to redefine how we approach education and social issues, demonstrating the profound impact that serious games can have on attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge dissemination. Having the ability to see real-life decisions play out encourages people to make smarter, more informed, and thoughtful decisions in the ‘real world’. By creating games that not only educate but inspire, people can envision and build a better future for themselves and their communities.
Kavita Ayyagari, Country Director and India Team Lead, Game of Choice, Not Chance, said, “We are honored to be awarded ‘Best Serious Game’, it is a testament to HDI’s innovative approach in leveraging gaming for educational and developmental impact. The game is a labor of love made with girls from lower-income groups based in Jaipur, Delhi, and Patna whose lives are impacted due to lack of agency and decision-making power.”
Since its launch in the Google Play Store in June 2022, Go Nisha Go has been downloaded 283,000 times and has earned a rating of 4.5, with positive reviews from both girls and boys. Not only was it recognized in the Academy category for Serious Games crafted and produced in a scientific environment aligned with this year’s theme, ’Games for a Better World’, Go Nisha Go was also named ‘Best Learning Game’ in the Games for Change festival earlier this year.
About Howard-Delafield International (HDI)
Howard Delafield International is a women-owned and women-led team of creative problem-solvers who pioneer new ways for people and communities to solve social, environmental, and health challenges, big and small. We integrate behavioral insights, commercial expertise, and emerging technologies to positively impact lives the world over.
About the Game: Go Nisha Go
Go Nisha Go is a free-to-download mobile game app. It aims to reach high school and college-going adolescent girls in India, ages 15-19 years. It provides reproductive health education (RHE) focused on menstruation, fertility, awareness, consent, negotiation, and delaying early marriage to pursue education and a career. The game companion chatbot called ‘AskParo’ covers many related questions. It is interactive and has guided flows that help girls get answers to questions they cannot ask openly. The chatbot has had more than 150,000 questions asked so far. The Game has 283000 downloads from across India. 48% of girls who have played the game are in 10-12th standard, and 31% are in college.