BBC Media Action has recently launched Nugget, an Android-based smartphone game in India, to address gender equality among teenagers. Nugget is a very relatable, round little red character, the eponymous face of this new android-based smartphone game that helps these youngsters deal with folks – aunt, neighbour, uncle, friend – who give them grief on a daily basis.
This is the very first time that a gaming platform has been used as a communication tool to bring about social change and the idea for Nugget came from the simple thought ‘every protagonist needs an antagonist’. In the mobile game, the androgynous protagonist, Nugget, has six antagonists who represent the force-field that limits the lives of teenagers. The game has been developed using a human-centred design process. The cast of characters, gameplay, content, have all been designed based on people who represent various pressure points in an Indian teenager’s life, and gamified as Ungly Aunty or Aunty Needle; Tank-jhank Padosi or Nosy Neighbour; Fenku Uncle or Uncle Hyperbole; Show-off Dost or Show-off Pal; Kalesh Bua or Aunt Give-some-grief and Chugalkhor Chacha or Uncle Snitch.
Each character is presented as a stylized arm – one that could crush Nugget – unless the player can help Nugget escape the pressure. When these youngsters interact with Nugget, they begin relating to its motto “Jhel mat. Khel” (Why suffer, Just play) because in the act of playing, Nugget creates, among its players, a recognition of gender stereotyping, and the need to escape the force-field it represents. It is a simple and familiar arcade game that one has played at some stage in one’s life. Because Nugget is androgynous, players, irrespective of gender, can identify with the protagonist. The content in the game – both text and audio – is in Hinglish, a conversational blend of Hindi and English that has become lingua franca for urban and peri-urban teens.
Radharani Mitra, Global Creative Advisor, BBC Media Action, says, “This was the first time we were developing a mobile game and it’s been an exciting journey. Given the increasing importance the mobile screen has in the lives of digitally-enabled audiences – there’s no reason why, done well, a game like Nugget can’t do the job of creating recognition of gender and the force-field among teenagers.”
Priyanka Chopra, the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Adolescence has come out in support of Nugget. Chopra said, “Nugget my favourite mobile friend… and whoever is Nugget’s friend, is my friend too!”
Funded by UNICEF, Nugget is part of a multi-platform communication initiative that uses a variety of innovative approaches to reach out to adolescents and their parents, in primarily peri-urban geographies. These include the 78-episode whodunit TV drama AdhaFull, a radio show, IVR content, graphic novels, activity books and now, a mobile phone game.
meenakshi sachdev varma