How Mariam Adil started GRID games a social venture?
Mariam Adil is passionate about solving difficult problems. In her words, “I aspire to find new ways to solve difficult problems and a good challenge usually takes me from a big fat grin to a focused frown back to a big fat grin.” And it’s out of her passion and pure commitment towards bringing in a social change, she founded GRID, an innovative initiative aimed at inspiring behavioral change.
What is GRID?
GRID stands for Gaming Revolution for Inspiring Development a social venture, GRID aims at leveraging the power of digital games to inspire behavioral change. GRID creates games that are not just a tool for entertainment but those that have the ability to inspire and influence people in a positive way.
Mariam says, “Under GRID we identify social issues that are deeply rooted in information gaps and sticky behaviours and then make games that can raise awareness and inspire people to change their behaviours for the better. We are also deeply passionate about making sure that we not only design great games but also work with partners in developing countries to take them to the bottom billion.”
GRID was established in 2013 as a student initiative while Mariam was pursuing her masters at GW University. Eventually, it developed into a social venture with a for-profit arm (GRID – Gaming Revolution for International Development) and a not-for-profit arm (GRID – Gaming Revolution for Inspiring Development). Today GRID is run by a virtual team of 7 young professionals who share one thing in common, a desire to make social change fun.
The ‘GRID Games’
GRID games are designed for low-end Android phones/ tablets that have high rates of penetration in low-income households. In the past three years, GRID has been working on a variety of games, including MoHiM, a game that breaks the stigma around menstrual hygiene in East Africa.
Mariam explains it as “MoHiM is a game that busts myths around menstrual health and hygiene. The word itself means “an effort” in the Urdu language and spells out MHM, the acronym for Menstrual Hygiene Management. The stigma around “that time of the month” is so severe that women and girls around the world, especially those living in marginalized communities, are unable to access the information that they need to manage their period in a healthy, hygienic and dignified manner.I decided to make a game about aiming pads at panties, a game where you bust myths and realize that a conversation on periods can be fun.”
The game has received immense media attention and has been featured in HuffingtonPost, Daily Mail, Yahoo News, with BBC and AJ+ interviews following soon.
Another GRID game, StereoWiped, aims to break racial and gender stereotypes prevailing in the society. They also made games that build capacity for better monitoring of development projects and to make math learning fun for grade 3 students in The Gambia. The whole idea of the games is to trigger dialogue around socially sensitive topics in a fun way and inspire behaviour change.
The takeaway message
This is an oft-repeated quote from Mariam,‘Why can’t “run like a girl” mean “win the race?’She is determined to run like a girl and win the race.