CCP Finds that a Little Technology is Game-Changing in Nigeria

More than a million Nigerians have played two interactive new games developed by the CCP-led Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria project since March 2020.
Photo: Mubarak Nuhu

With the touch of a button on a basic mobile phone, Nigerians can now help beloved characters from radio dramas make good decisions for their health and wellbeing.

So far, more than a million Nigerians have played two interactive new games developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’-led Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria project since March 2020. The number of unique callers and minutes spent is a testament to how much people want to engage directly with the radio characters they follow and the lessons they teach.

“We understand the profound appeal of storytelling, especially when told in local languages, and that makes radio powerful. However, it is a one-way medium.” says CCP’s Idi Nasiru, a senior program officer who helped develop the games. “What we are seeing is that people like to interact beyond just listening. People want to be part of the story.”

Millions of Nigerians are already listening to the Albishirin Ku! and The Adventures of Wazobia radio dramas developed by Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria. The games are a way to bring those dramas even closer to home through an interactive medium.

To play the low-tech games Kacici Kacici (KK) and Adventures in Wazobia, people can call the toll-free 4-2-1 number on their mobile phones and hear emotional and personal stories involving choices in maternal and child health, nutrition, and infectious diseases. Callers can help the characters make the right decisions: positive choices are reinforced by earning them a point, while negative choices may lead to a quick end of the game.

“This is an intentional medium,” Nasiru says. “Unlike radio, where you are passively listening, here you have to be the one who picks up your phone, dials the phone number, and spends those number of minutes listening.”

The framework of the game was developed by Peripheral Vision International and Viamo, a Breakthrough ACTION partner, provides engagement statistics in real time. KK, the first game developed, has been played by more than 551,600 individuals through December 2023. They have spent more than six million minutes listening and responding. That game, which is in Hausa language, is focused on social and maternal, newborn and child health in northern Nigerian states.

Adventures of Wazobia, which was only launched in February 2023, has already had more than 500,000 unique callers spending five million minutes playing the game. It is available in several languages, including Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Pidgin English, and English, and played across Nigeria.

Nasiru has worked on radio dramas for many years, and he says he is excited to see the appetite for this type of interaction using the lowest tech phones, also known as “dumb phones.”

“In the radio drama, you want a certain character to do A, and the person ends up doing B,” Nasiru says. “In the games, now you have an opportunity to make the person do the A that you had hoped for in the drama. That mutually reinforces the message that you heard in the drama, and I think that is what makes the games work. The numbers of people playing speak for themselves.”


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