The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has developed a smartphone app to raise awareness about the struggles of refugees, but not all are convinced it will be effective.
The ‘My Life as a Refugee’ app is a role-playing game in which users are put into common refugee situations.
Director of the ACW – a design consultancy, which developed the app – Mark Evans, said the app was created as “an educational tool in a climate of rising intolerance towards refugees and asylum seekers”.
“It aims to build awareness, understanding and empathy by giving users a sobering glimpse of what it’s like to flee conflict.”
He said they could have presented the same content in a book, but saw an opportunity to reach new audiences by tailoring it to mobile devices.
“In an age of short attention spans and compassion fatigue we need to connect with people on the platforms they prefer,” Mr Evans said.
Former refugee Aran Mylvaganam said he thought the app was a worthwhile idea, but it needed to be redeveloped to be more engaging.
“As it is, I think it’s not very effective. There are very few characters and the design itself is not that effective to communicate with people who wouldn’t be interested in refugees,” he said
“If I’m not already involved in the refugee movement I don’t think I would even look at the app.”
He suggested the app could be used as an educational tool in classrooms either at school or university.