What you need to know:
- Called ‘Wewe’, the game targets Kenyan males aged between 17 and 35, as part of its ‘‘Gaming for Good’’ initiative.
- To play, participants chase a political leader down a corridor, overcoming different obstacles along the path. One unlocks a new ‘‘mission’’ when they catch their leader.
As the August 9 elections approach, gaming company Usiku Games has developed a game that aims to offer civic education to Kenyan men.
Called Wewe, the game targets Kenyan males aged between 17 and 35, as part of its ‘‘Gaming for Good’’ initiative.
To play, participants chase a political leader down a corridor, overcoming different obstacles along the path.
One unlocks a new ‘‘mission’’ when they catch their leader.
Mr Alex Owiti, the director of communications at Usiku Games, says Wewe educates the youth on corruption, violence and hate speech to help them make informed electoral choices.
He notes: “Every election year, we fail to audit our leaders properly and end up with regrettable choices. We are correcting this by helping our youth to identify good values in the leaders they want to elect.”
The firm says the game aims to promote accountability among leaders by allowing voters to scrutinise their suitability based on their integrity.
Youth used by politicians
Explains Mr Owiti: “We have seen in the past our young men being used by politicians to cause violence, especially in political hotspots. Many of them are jobless and idle. It is for this reason that we are using gamification tools to reach out to them through technology.” Both men and women can play the game, he says.
In recent months, technology companies, especially social media, have been accused of allowing their users to misuse their platforms to spread electoral misinformation or hate speech.
In June this year, it emerged that several accounts had been used to propagate misinformation about the August 9 elections through a fake video. The 33 accounts shared the video on different dates, gaining more than four million views.
Mozilla Foundation Odanga Madung argued at the time that misleading content posted by popular accounts spreads fast when it is “supercharged by the platform itself”.
Mr Owiti insists that tech companies must rise from slumber and take action. “It is upon them to ensure their platforms are used responsibly and ethically. In recent months, accounts of certain individuals have been suspended for violating terms of engagement, which is encouraging.”
The game that took a year to develop is available freely on the company’s website for both Android and iOS (iPhone Operating System) users.
On uptake, Mr Owiti says hundreds of youths have already enrolled for the game, with both men and women playing. Nairobi accounts for the majority of the players at 71 per cent, with the rest drawn from across the country, he says.
The company says it will roll out similar games across other African countries holding elections this year.
Usiku Games is part of an enterprise owned by Canadian investor Jay Shapiro, who established the Nairobi Gaming Development Centre three years ago.