Why are we playing games? Most of the time, we play to relax and seek fun. Sometimes, it can be more than personal pleasure when we get a title incorporating real-life charitable projects. We can help save the rainforest with Forests of Eden or shelter strayed animals and endangered wildlife by playing Joy Kingdom. Now, we get another game of this type, that is, Half the Sky Movement: The Game.
Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the namesake RPG is an attempt of raising awareness and funds to empower women and girls in real life. It narrates the story of a simple India woman Radhika who work hard to make things better for her family and then the community.
The game is mainly driven by story with many episodes closely related to real life unfolded logically one after another. Collect mangoes and sell them in market to earn coins required to treat the ill daughter, collect extra books from the community to help schools and children in need, join and attend a woman empowerment group to find solutions of creating a better community, and volunteer in a busy clinic, and so on and so forth. A special feature in the quest system is its multiple choices for some tasks. You can choose to argue with the school teacher about the lack of books or find a solution to the problem; you can lie to your husband about your earned money or speak frankly to afford the new addition to the house alone. In some occasions the different choice may influence the development of an episode, but on the whole most missions will finally end with the same result.
“Any action you take in the virtual world, you can also take in real life”. That word from the game explains its donation implement well. When you complete some missions in the game, a screen will pop up showing some real-life projects just like what you’ve just finished virtually and letting you to decide whether you want to contribute. For instance, you have your ill daughter treated in the in-game clinic, you are offered the choice of donating some money to give life-saving immunizations for girls in the real world or not. You have rights to choose “no, thanks”. As a relief, it’s not the only way that can help others in reality.
Keeping playing the game is another way to make your contribution. Following the busy pace of the heroine, you will finish various tasks, most of which can be completed by simple point and click, with the only exception being a mini-game of collection. And the various daily chores like caring a goat and working in garden can be played repetitively. In this way, you will accumulate four different meters in Economy, Education, Health and Security to level up separately. Here comes the other way of donation: when you fill the meters high enough, you will unlock a real gift from a sponsor to a worthy cause.
But you can only play as much time as the Energy allows at one sitting. Similar to most games on this platform, all these actions consume Energy to perform even when you fail to complete a quest. In addition, the in-game coins you earn seem always insufficient of covering the necessary expense. When you need 1,000 coins to expand your house, it’s likely that you only have 90 in your pocket. It’s somewhat imbalance in design. Grind for some time or cough up some hard currency – it’s your choice.
Honestly, Half the Sky Movement is not that immersive as a stand-alone title. It has a good storyline, but it lacks diversity, dynamics as well as balance to be a must-play. However, the integration of real-life projects, the most important feature here, makes up a little bit and adds another layer of value to playing.