The Learning Network Effect: Gamification to counter COVID-19 Misinformation

Lockdown Gaming

To reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has gone into isolation — bringing major changes to our daily lives and a new appetite for digitalization. Mandated lockdowns and social distancing interventions have led us to dramatically increase the number of hours we spend in front of our screens to work and connect to our loved ones.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

An emergent challenge: Infodemic

As COVID-19 keeps spreading across the globe, countries worldwide have been flooded with misinformation, fake news, prejudiced and unverified information about the disease. And even more alarming is the speed and pace at which false information travels. In 2018, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated in surprising research that “false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are.”

As COVID-19 keeps spreading across the globe, so does the risk of infodemic. Research available here.

CoronaChampion 1.0: Debunking Myths Gamification Style

Tapping into the trends seen within the gaming and digital industries, UNDP India, through its Accelerator Lab, decided to tackle the surge of COVID-19 misinformation and fake news with gamification.

From India to Morocco, Cabo Verde and Timor-Leste

When the Indian team shared the initiative with the UNDP Accelerator Labs Network the learning network effect was immediate! A few weeks later, the CoronaChampion 1.0 game was adopted by UNDP Accelerator Lab teams in Morocco, Cabo Verde, and Timor-Leste, adapted to the local contexts and translated it in Tetum, Creol, French, Portuguese, and Arabic.

UNDP Timor Leste via its Accelerator Lab worked with social media influencers to promote the game which has reached 170k people, with over 26.5K people engaging on social media posts.

CoronaChampion 2.0: taking on gender inequalities

The Accelerator Lab in UNDP India then launched a CoronaChampion 2.0. This second version features a girl avatar and explores the impact of the pandemic on women and girls disproportionately affected by extreme poverty, precarious economic security, unpaid care duties, and domestic violence.

The Learning Network Effect in Action

UNDP Accelerator Labs in India, Morocco, Cabo Verde, and Timor-Leste turned their ideas into a collaborative experiment. This experiment also affirms how gamification works when designed with and for users. The game’s simplicity was one of the key factors that led to faster adoption across various countries. We also think that having the game hosted in a simple web link, available in local languages, and having no requirement to download an app were additional reasons why it worked. By now, due to these games, more than 6 million young individuals have accurate information on the virus. The labs are seeing more opportunities to use gamification in various thematic areas of their work. Perhaps in the future, there may be opportunities to embed “gamification” elements such as ranking and badges to inspire positive competition.

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UNDP Accelerator Labs

UNDP Accelerator Labs

Building the world’s largest learning network around development challenges. 91 Labs in 115 countries. http://acceleratorlabs.undp.org/