Go Nisha Go Wins ‘Best Serious Game’ award at Gala2023 Serious Games Competition

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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 a tool designed to assist adolescent girls in navigating the unique challenges they commonly face in India during this formative period.

Dr. Susan Howard, Co-founder of HDI and the brains 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,” she added.

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.