The UNICEF Global Innovations Centre recently partnered with Rovio to host an Angry Birds level design challenge at a local youth centre in Kampala, Uganda. The event, held over the course of two days, offered participants the opportunity to have their levels included in the 5th Anniversary Edition of Angry Birds.

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In preparation for the event, we (UNICEF) installed Angry Birds on our solar-powered computer kiosks deployed at the youth centre. This proved immediately popular; the game quickly became everyone’s favorite activity and ensured that our computer kiosks were in extremely high-demand. This also created a wonderful atmosphere at the youth centre; children who had prior exposure to the game on mobile phones mentored their uninitiated peers, and groups of children often collaborated on strategies to complete in-game puzzles.

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IMG_4295On the first day of the main event, two Ugandan video game developers spoke to 50 children about their work and the gaming industry.

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IMG_4289The children were then given blank level templates and asked to create an Angry Birds level based on a theme (in this case, “pigs blocking access to your school”). The best creations were then selected by a community voting process organized by the youth centre. Winners were submitted to Rovio for conversion to digital levels that are now included in the 5th Anniversary Edition of Angry Birds.


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UNICEF Uganda A - Nanyunja - drawing

UNICEF Uganda A - Gadala - drawingThe second day of the event included a real-world simulation of Angry Birds. Approximately 75 children were offered the opportunity to construct real-world Angry Birds levels using large cardboard boxes, then to attempt to “win” those levels by knocking them down with coconuts launched from a large slingshot. This was massively popular, afforded children practical experience with physics, and encouraged them to physically realize their thoughts and ideas.

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My name is Kyle Spencer. I’m a Technology for Development Specialist at UNICEF. My role in this process was to design, organize, and host this event along with along with my colleagues Jessica Tribbe and Stefan Bock.

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