Since 2015 the Humanitarian Leadership Academy and the ITCILO have been working together to investigate the potential of using game elements for increased engagement and effective training of humanitarian staff.

Based on the successful implementation of two Gamification Labs in Kenya and the Philippines in 2017, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was conceived to be an innovative online laboratory geared at identifying and shaping concrete challenges, which should then be addressed in a creative yet constructive way through game-based techniques.

The Gamification for Humanitarian Learning MOOC also aimed to create the space for hands-on creative activities where participants were provided with opportunities to enhance their design skills and exchange with professionals, with the overall goal of contributing to better humanitarian preparedness.

The MOOC also aimed to increase the awareness of non-profit and development professionals focusing on humanitarian themes such as disaster and risk management and disaster response and resilience, towards the use of gamification for capacity building. The idea was to dive into literature, explore interesting practices jointly with other professionals, compile new resources, learn from each other and co-create serious games for humanitarian professionals.

By the end of the course, learners should have been able to:

  • Recognise gamification and serious games impact on engagement;
  • Identify main game elements and techniques;
  • Analyse target audiences and build user personas;
  • Build knowledge around game design;
  • Ideate game concepts responding to real challenges;
  • Develop game concepts through a web-authoring tool;
  • Test and prototype serious games;
  • Evaluate the quality of a game.

With more than 1,100 participants, this course proved that despite its specialised content it attracted a large number of participants, mainly already employed in the humanitarian sector. The learners identified various challenges in the humanitarian sector, deriving from their professional experiences that could be addressed through gamification.

According to the learners, one of the main advantages of this MOOC was that its approach was more practical. In the evaluation question “How do you judge the contents in relation to your starting knowledge in Gamification?”, the learners described it mainly as practical.

The learners were overall highly satisfied with the course and 92.73% of the learners would recommend the MOOC to a colleague.

“This MOOC training was useful and I will recommend it to my colleagues and apply what I’ve learned in my organisation.”

“The MOOC was quite impressive and more practical. We recommend more effective MOOCs related to humanitarian issues.”

In total there were 32 game prototypes with humanitarian relevant content submitted.

Take a look at some of the game prototypes

Effective Leadership – Collaborative Teams
by Maxine Clayton

The overall goal of the game is to strengthen the participants’ knowledge and skills in leadership within a humanitarian context, to support the development of collaborative teams and in turn organisation performance.

Hunger Pangs by Sumita Johnson

The purpose of the game is to help the learners empathise with people who are forced to go to any extreme to get food. It encourages them to share, donate, feed or cook spare food that can be respectfully given to the hungry. It pleads with the learners to be more aware and conscientious of their food purchasing, storing, eating, cooking and disposing habits. It empowers them to become more conscientious food consumers and inspires them to potentially become food producers.

The Inclusion Challenge by Giulia David

When preparing for and responding to a humanitarian crisis, are you able to reach the entire community, without leaving anyone behind? This game helps you learn what’s important to keep in mind when you have to make sure that those most at risk of exclusion are reached by and participate to a humanitarian programme.

Help Lives by Addisu Bekele

By playing the game, the learners support and treat people who are in need of help; the game inspires them to help people in the real world.

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