The charity has launched Gemma’s World, an online game, which focuses on what Gemma, a typical child attending school while living in poverty in the UK, would say about her day-to-day life.
The game is hosted on the charity's website and allows users to click on a number of different options that include a tour of the flat where Gemma lives with her family, her local high street and her school.
A series of first-person accounts from Gemma appear and tell the user about her experiences in these places. One of the quotes is: "When Dad gives me lunch money, I try to make it last a few days. The meals are good, but I can’t always have them. I know we are trying to save so I try not to ask for more." Another of the quotes refers to free school meals during the tour of the school canteen.
Why is this significant?
Gemma’s World is an attempt by the Children’s Society to show that the circumstances of children who live in poverty and miss out on free school meals under the existing system are not all that different from those who do qualify for them.
The charity says that 1.2 million children, more than half the total number of children living in poverty in the UK, do not get free school meals, with 700,000 not entitled to them under the existing system.
What does the charity hope to accomplish?
Gemma’s World has been designed primarily as another way to drive people to the Fair and Square petition, the centrepiece of a campaign that was launched on 19 April last year. The game constantly asks if the user has had enough, directing them to go and sign the petition and express their support for the campaign’s overall goal of extending free school meals to all 2.2 million children who live in poverty in the UK.
How are people seeing it?
The game is being promoted through all the usual digital channels, including an email to people on the charity’s database, information on its Facebook page and tweets on its Twitter feed. It also has a headline position on the charity’s website. The Fair and Square campaign has recently featured as the campaign of the week on Mumsnet.
The Children’s Society has released the game now because of media attention on benefit reform. It has been made deliberately simple so that it can appeal to as wide an audience as possible and encourage people to sign the petition.
Who produced it?
It was produced in conjunction with Nonsense, the marketing agency that produced the Children’s Society’s previous game, The Poverty Trap.
Third Sector Verdict:
Gemma’s World isn’t a game in the traditional sense, but provides a useful insight into the lives of thousands of real girls who are just like her. The lack of variety in the locations shows us just how small the worlds of children like Gemma really are and the simple language gives us a unique insight into her relationship with each location.
The intuitive design and basic language complement the accessibility of the game format and come together to deliver the message of the Fair and Square campaign more effectively than any print or broadcast advertisement ever could.