From grappling with runaway crocodiles to avoiding electrocution, a new mobile phone app aims to teach children across the Asia-Pacific region how to stay safe when floods strike.
Following the deluge in Thailand in 2011, which killed more than 800 people, the UN agency Unesco’s Bangkok office has teamed up with software developers OpenDream to create Sai Fah: The Flood Fighter. Players can follow the cartoon hero Sai Fah as he battles a flood on his way to meet his mother, with each level of the game offering a lesson in flood safety.
Gaming is hugely popular among Thai youth. A recent study found that 72% of youngsters own a mobile phone and 49% use their device for gaming. “In Thailand, people love mobiles, particularly iPhones and Android, so this was the target audience,” explains Ichiro Miyazawa, the Unesco Bangkok programme specialist for literacy and lifelong learning. “We wanted to make characters in the game cute so people feel an attachment to them.”
Sai Fah: The Flood Fighter was launched in Thai language last month; this week the game was released in English on iOS and Android platforms.
OpenDream’s project manager, Nathalie Sajda, says the biggest challenge while designing the game was balancing entertainment with education: “To integrate learning lessons in a fun interactive way with the player – this is what makes the game interesting.”