SPOTLIGHT ON GAME OF CHOICE PROJECT DIRECTOR, SUSAN HOWARD (Q&A)
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
Q: What inspired you to create the Game of Choice, Not Chance initiative?
My parents are from India and both made choices that set in motion the direction of their lives and now mine. They have been my inspiration for this initiative and for my ability to blend principles of marketing with public health. My dad was a professor of business and my mom a public health research scientist. My mom, who recently died, had very clear goals as a young woman and unwavering ambitions to not only finish school but to study in the US. She was a pioneer. She made these decisions and choices in the mid 1950s. I think of her choices and I think about how her life may have turned out very differently if she didn’t pursue her dreams and ambitions—and as a result how my life might have turned out differently. Her story is very much reflected in the game and one avatar—the dreamer-- is a representation of my mother.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with this project?
I hope this game will serve as a legacy to both my parents. Decisions that girls make during adolescence can shape the rest of their lives. Girl’s choices or their circumstances can result in exploitation, disease, pregnancy or unwanted early marriage. Alternatively girl’s decisions, such as my mom's, can result in the completion of education, fulfillment of career goals, as well as marriage and family.
This interactive choice-based game allows a player to experience the outcome of choices through her avatar, and through game analytics we are able to measure those choices. The player’s ability to envision the outcome of those decisions makes this solution novel and different from traditional behavior change communication interventions. By seeing the result of their choices, in the virtual world, I hope girls might make more informed and thoughtful choices in the ‘real world’.
Q: What’s the ‘end game’? Do you see the project making an impact in the future?
To ultimately influence positive health behaviors and outcomes and the quality of girls’ lives. We plan through strategic partnerships to scale the game beyond India and ideally beyond the health sector, for sustainable impact and transformative change.
Susan Howard, MPH, PhD Candidate, teaches, mentors, and creates at the nexus of academia, industry, and entrepreneurship. Co-founder of Howard Delafield International, LLP (HDI) with offices in Washington and Delhi, and educator at George Mason University's School of Integrative Studies, Susan combines theories from the behavioral and social sciences, emerging immersive and mobile technologies, human-centered design, with innovative business practices to not only understand root causes of problems but to design entrepreneurial solutions to address pressing social, environmental and health problems locally and around the globe.
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