Population Media Center and Champlain College Tackle Gender Based Violence through Video Gaming

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Video games have become an increasingly favorite form of entertainment, yet many video games are known for their violent content. Population Media Center and the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College have teamed up to apply the power of gaming to make a positive impact on gender issues by using character role models and simulated life decisions to shift attitudes and behaviors on gender issues.

BREAKAWAY is a free, narrative-driven online football (soccer) game endorsed by world-famous football star, Samuel Eto’o.

The team developed the Facilitators Guide specifically to provide fun and interactive ways for players to explore the issues of the BREAKAWAY video game and to provide engaging hands-on activities, discussion prompts, and work sheets for group settings.

Population Media Center (PMC), the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College (EMC), and United Nations Fund for Population Awareness (UNFPA) have released a multilingual Toolkit consisting of the BREAKAWAY video game and the BREAKAWAY Facilitator’s Guide.

BREAKAWAY, an episodic electronic football (soccer) game that utilizes entertainment-education strategies to combat violence against women and girls, bullying, and gender inequality, was initially launched in 2010 during the FIFA World Cup. Since then, it has been played online in over 180 countries.

The team developed the Facilitators Guide specifically to provide fun and interactive ways for players to explore the issues of the BREAKAWAY video game and to provide engaging hands-on activities, discussion prompts, and fun work sheets for group settings.

The BREAKAWAY Game & Toolkit, geared towards boys aged 8-15 (girls can play too), was created by PMC, the EMC, and UNFPA to utilize the popularity of football (soccer) and video games to change gender norms around the world. The Facilitator’s Guide provides the educator or coach with the specific tools to delve deeper into the issues addressed in the video game, where players must make critical decisions throughout the story related to gender equality, violence against women and girls, bullying and more. The BREAKAWAY Game & Toolkit are available for play and download at http://www.breakawaygame.com. Available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

A small international team of undergraduate students organized and conducted BREAKAWAY sessions at three youth summer camps in the city of Hebron in the West Bank in June 2012. The BREAKAWAY game, matched with the Facilitator’s Guide and culturally-appropriate activities developed by local facilitators, positively impacted over 300 children resulting in an environment and attitude of respect despite differences and societal norms.

“By concluding this project, we record Hebron as the first city in the Arab World to receive and implement this educational game that conveys a universal message and is designed to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women,” Breakaway Team Leader Mahmoud Jabari said. “This team is going to be an essential part of similar future projects in the region,” Jabari added.

Through this success, the BREAKAWAY team is planning to offer this camp to more locations throughout the world.

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC) :
Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over a decade of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications in 27 countries around the world. http://www.populationmedia.org

ABOUT EMERGENT MEDIA CENTER at Champlain College (EMC) :
Champlain’s Emergent Media Center, works directly with industry, public institutions and non-profit organizations to provide a laboratory/studio environment for discovering concepts, processes and applications in new media and electronic games. It allows students to experience learning and become leaders in the areas of technology and media in real-life work situations. http://www.champlain.edu/emc

ABOUT UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) :
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity

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Melissa Montemagni
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