The chezo serious gaming hub backed by VIA Water was launched this year. The hub consists of a consortium that brings experienced serious gaming experts from the Netherlands together with innovative Kenyan ICT partners who have established networks and experience in technology and water sectors. The consortium comprises iHub, Upande, Deltares , FloodCom and The Barn.
The chezo gaming hub seeks to seed an industry of serious gaming in Kenya, particularly focusing on urban water related issues. This first of its kind initiative in Kenya is aimed to inspire, train and incubate local entrepreneurs to help launch new business ventures ready to tackle real life, urban water issues in new and compelling ways.
The initiative had two main phases; The first phase comprised of serious gaming start-up workshop and train the trainer workshop held at the iHub. The workshops were aimed at initiating learning about serious gaming and to train participants on the basic skills needed to facilitate serious games.
The workshops culminated in a competition, “the game jam”. The game jam was a 48-hour competition where participants worked in teams to compete in developing serious games that address water, sanitation and hygiene challenges and issues. The competition attracted more than 50 participants who worked on different ideas.
The competition saw three teams awarded seed grant of (each 2000 Euros/approx. Ksh. 220,000) and additional mentorship and support for a couple of months to enable them develop their innovations to market
The winners were;
The purpose of the Amala game is to address integrated water management challenges that include water scarcity, pollution and environmental degradation, poor water quality as a result of agricultural expansion, intensification of irrigation, population growth and increasing impact of tourism.
Use of the game will create awareness to water resource users on the benefits/ disadvantages of conserving water resources and the environment. In addition, the game will provide education and learning opportunities for water users in the mara river catchments.
The game involves a board game where the player/players toss dice. Cards are listed with Key integrated water conservation messages that depict water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Points are then awarded to the player/players. The best player is awarded the highest points for addressing the 3 areas.
Down Stream is a board game that encourages and educates users on water conservation, usage and infrastructure challenges in the water ecosystem. Players play as a water drop in a Kenyan pipe trying to get to a tap where his Family is located but facing various challenges such as illegal tapping, contamination and vandalism.
When it Rains
When It Rains is a digital survival strategy game that simulates water management of a war-torn African country suffering from extreme drought.
Some of the other ideas that came out from the game jam competition include; watergate, Unplugged, Environment awareness participation, Nunu the water droplet, Water matters, Customer care simulator, Maze for your life, Pamoja gamers, Hydration 1.0, Maji cycle, Water 2020 and Jack what-a-guy.
About serious gaming
Serious gaming is the use of concepts and technologies derived from (computer) entertainment games for non-entertainment purposes such as research, policy, decision-making, training and learning. Serious gaming often combines analogue techniques (pen and paper) and social interaction with state of the art game and simulation technologies (immersive 3D virtual game worlds).