When did this project start?
As MFA students in the Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts, part of our first-year curriculum required us to take a course on games for change. As a group, we decided to take on one of the most complicated problems we could think of and tried to create a small, but real intervention using game play.
Can a game really create change?
Yes. We know games can seem simple, but they can also serve as friendly and approachable tools. If designed well, games can excel creative thought, spark conversations, ignite play and infiltrate educational messaging. Games that are designed to address social and political issues are one of the fastest growing categories of the serious games movement.
Who can benefit from the game?
For pre-teen girls at risk of sex trafficking, Say No More allows them to reflect on healthy relationships and to practice saying no and asserting themselves.
For social workers who need to be better informed about sex trafficking, Say No More is a tool that allows them to easily understand the issue and identify at-risk girls in the groups they already work with.
Have you tested your game to make sure it works?
User-centered design is not only important to us, it is critical to a well-designed game. That’s why we tested our games extensively with teens, social workers, human rights lawyers, game experts and trafficking survivors. After each play test experience we incorporate new insights into our game design.
Where are you in the process of creating this game?
Our team received a generous $20,000 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant in August 2014. We spent the fall testing and refining our game, and we have designed and manufactured 500 games this spring. We are now looking for partners to help test our game so that we can get feedback on our idea, refine the game and scale our idea nationwide.
Who are your pilot partners testing this game?
We are currently looking for pilot partners to test our game for two months. Ideal pilot partners are social workers who can facilitate the game with pre-teen and teen girls. However, our current pilot parters are using the game in a variety of settings. Current partners include the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, Graham Windham and a nationwide advocacy organization that works on trafficking, in addition to a variety of educators and individual social workers.
What about an online version of Say No More?
Yes, we considered an online version, but decided against it. We purposefully designed a card game that would create one-to-one interaction with girls and social workers. This curated experience is critical to learning, exchange dialogue and the ability to read verbal, emotional and social cues. A printable version of this game will be made available online so it could be accessible and affordable to all users. There could be potential to have this game placed online, however the human exchange and support network is something we refuse to replace.
How can I get involved?
We’re always looking for enthusiastic game testers and potential partners. Tell us how you can contribute, and we’ll be in touch.
What other organizations are working on trafficking?
There a number of incredible organizations working on all aspects of trafficking within the United States working on many angles of the trafficking issues, from policy and changing laws to helping survivors. Here are just a few of the organizations we deeply admire:
- Polaris Project: A leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
- Shared Hope: An International organization that strives to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children.
- GEMS: Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) is the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.