Viral Phone Game Helps Illiterate Pakistanis Find Job Listings

Posted on Mar 22 2013 - 10:28pm by Sidrah Zaheer

mobile holdingAccording to the MIT Technology Review, there is a viral phone game in Pakistan that trains people into acquiring skills for searching job opportunities with their keypad. Since, low-literate people find it difficult to use a keypad or to properly understand the text-based services, it is rather handy that they learn something.

Around 800 million people have mobile phones, but are unable to read the text due to their low-literacy. Because of their poverty, learning to read or write proves as an impediment. To tackle with this situation of poverty and illiteracy with the mobile users, researchers in Pakistan are using a voice game to give motivation to thousands of people that will allow them to master an automated voice system. After acquiring this skill, they can become independent into finding jobs suitable to their potential.

This programme has been introduced by combined efforts of the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Pakistan’s Lahore University of Management Sciences. Currently, the mobile game is being played by some 156,000 users that get 600,000 calls with some 27,000 job inquiries. This is being done with a viral spreading of the mobile game.

According to Dr. Umar Saif, who is currently the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board, viral spread is central to this whole programme because amongst poor people, it is the only means. This is also the first virally spreading speech-based service in a developing country.

This game is called Polly, where a person calls the game’s phone number and receives a call back from the system, then gives commands to record a message to a friend, plays it back with funny changes and lets the person forward the message to another friend. All this is done in Urdu language.

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