Testing games in Ethiopia : “This is more interesting than a training”


Testing the game with school teachers at the school Kidus Kora'an

The first versions of the two computer assisted role playing games were developed in the Netherlands using Companion Modelling methodology. In parallel, school teachers and students in Ethiopia were mobilized, together with surrounding community. The games were afterwards tested in school in Adama, Ethiopia with more than 15 people - school students, school teachers, school support staff and Adama Town Health Office representative.

The participants of the game testing sessions could learn about correlation between hygiene - hand washing with soap and keeping the toilets clean, with the human health. Also the knowledge on possibilities for reuse of the treated hand washing water (grey water) at the school premises was increased.
Instead of the “classical” training on operation and maintenance of the grey water treatment, the participants experienced use of role-playing games for educational purposes. Some of the feedback of the game testing sessions were: “This is more interesting than a training” and “It’s more practical instead of theoretical”.
The competitiveness as engaging factor played a bigger role in intrinsic motivation than we have anticipated prior to games’ testing.

The main challenge at this moment is linking and adjusting the planning of this project to the ongoing project on school sanitation infrastructure improvements.
The project idea was that, prior to construction of infrastructure, the games will be tested with school staff, so that school can be prepared for infrastructure changes and better understand the system. After the construction of the whole system (toilets with hand washing facility & grey water treatment) the games will be played again.

However, dynamics in the school involving change of plans for land use at the compound, in combination with school holidays, complicate the planning and progress.
In urban settings and in schools in particular, different stakeholders are involved in decision making and the dynamics are often difficult to completely predict, which should be taken into account when planning.

Iteration of the game design, based on the feedback of the target groups is taking place at the moment. We are looking forward to applying them in the schools again!