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Games for a cause

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At the recent GamesCom convention in Cologne, Germany, a startling new trends became apparent, writes game designer JADE MATHIESON.

Your typical gamer is no longer young, white and male. Nor are games strictly for entertainment. The principles behind game design are being applied in other areas, including education and training, public health, advocacy for social causes, and improving organisational productivity.

With South Africa’s high rates of smartphone adoption, games provide a new channel to engage customers, employees and the general public.

Those were some of my insights from GamesCom, Europe’s biggest gaming convention which took place recently in Cologne, Germany. It’s not quite as big as E3 in Los Angeles, but it still attracts all the best-known names in gaming. The Germans accommodated an estimated 350 000 visitors and over 900 companies.

A number of “games for a cause” made me sit up and take notice. Here are some of them:

1. Antura and the Letters

With hundreds of refugees fleeing the conflicts in Libya and Syria, many children are being denied the opportunity to learn. Antura and the Letters is a game designed to help such children become literate in Arabic. The game engine appears solid and could be re-skinned for other languages.

2. Antidote

Created by Pyson Games, Antidote teaches children about stem cells and the immune system. Their aim is to challenge some of the unscientific beliefs that have become commonplace during the Trump presidency. But even though the game is based on scientific facts, it is a classic defense strategy game with nice graphics and engaging gameplay. The game shows that it is possible to take complex subjects like the immune system and dry facts, and turn them into fun learning experiences.

3. Across the Line

The decision to abort an embryo isn’t an easy one. Yet many women who should have the right to choose what happens to their bodies are subjected to ridicule and scorn by protestors outside abortion clinics. Across the Line, which I didn’t see but heard about at GamesCon, uses virtual reality to allow others to experience what it is like to live through the taunting and thereby can create empathy. Other possible applications of the concept can help bridge differences on other divisive topics by allowing people to immerse themselves in the experiences of others.

4. Lost Words

Expanding the vocabulary of children doesn’t have to be as boring as telling them to consult a thesaurus each time. In Lost Words, a player is tasked with choosing between words to explore a story. Each word choice leads down a different narrative arch, encouraging players to think about what the words mean. As the story unfolds, they can use more words to change their environment – illustrating nicely the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword.

* Jade Mathieson is a game designer and creative lead at Sea Monster. She headed up the team behind Old Mutual’s Moneyversity website, among other.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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