With their Mission Hazaar campaign, Breakthrough was looking to reach out to an audience located in urban and peri-urban areas of India. The campaign aimed to raise awareness about the issue of gender-biased sex-selection (GBSS). However, a common myth around GBSS is that it is a practice limited to rural or slum areas. We needed to break the ‘it doesn’t happen here’ mindset of a privileged audience – one with access to internet, mobile devices, and urban amenities.
Our challenge was to make the issue of GBSS relevant to an audience that believed the practice had no bearing on their own lives.
Our target audience comprised of people who believed that GBSS was not relevant to their lives. This audience would be unlikely to pay attention to any communication that accused them of being perpetrators. As a result, our communication had to portray the reality of GBSS in their own lives, without being accusatory or condescending.
To this end, we decided to create a communication strategy that focussed on the visible consequences of GBSS on our audience’s everyday lives. Thanks to our meetings with Breakthrough we knew that one of the consequences of GBSS was an unequal sex ratio leading to there being fewer women than men in public spaces.
So, rather than tell our audience that GBSS was as prevalent in their own environment as it was anywhere else, we decided to show them. We chose to use interactive game design to engage our audience so they could see the consequences of GBSS first hand. Our HTML5 point-and-click game was based on the lack of women in public spaces. We designed 5 levels for the game, each representing 5 different public spaces in the 5 states of India with the lowest child sex ratio. In each level, the player had 30 seconds to locate the 20 women hidden in a crowd of men. 15 seconds into the game, the screen would start to go dark, making it harder for the viewer to spot the women. Breakthrough’s research had told us that women are even harder to find in public spaces once it starts to get dark. To us, it was imperative that represent this reality.
The Mission Hazaar game was launched at the India Habitat Centre on 17 January 2015. In its first month, it clocked over 1500 visits and a total of 500 hours of gameplay. The game is also being used as a training resource at Breakthrough’s community mobilisation events in Haryana to engage students, teachers and stakeholders.