Mariam, a Pakistani girl, is the Founder of GRID – Gaming Revolution for International Development, which aims to create low-cost mobile based games that empower poor people to make better decisions. GRID games raise awareness and provide poor people in developing countries a complete information set to allow them to make better decisions, about their health, their children’s education, their money and their futures.
GRID was recognized as an “exemplary approach” for social change by President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative University 2015 Meeting. She is also the recipient of the 2015 Andrew E. Rice Award for “Leadership & Innovation” by the Society of International Development. Further, her game StereoWiped was nominated for UN PeaceAPP competition.
Working at the World Bank, she was always intrigued by the role that technology can play in helping us solve the problems around us in a more meaningful way and GRID was her way of finding out. In one of her interviews she states:
“There are a billion people living under $1.25/day and half a billion playing video games for at least one hour every day. The challenge of fighting poverty is huge, but so is the potential of video games.
Games have the power of what I like to call ‘the three I’s’ − they can interact with the players in an iterative way to inspire change. Games can build capacity, raise awareness, promote dialogue and inspire behavior change to put the wheels of change in motion. I see GRID games as a catalyst for social change.”
Her game Randomania is a training game that allows development practitioners to think about the challenges of evaluating projects and designing randomized control trials. The game was built for a technical audience (i.e: researchers and policy makers) and has been incorporated as part of WB workshops on monitoring and evaluating projects.
Her second game, inspired by the design of mahjong tiles, StereoWiped challenges the player to match portions of a stereotype such as “ I am a girl” and “I like pink” and then breaks them using a statistic, such as 1 out of 3 girls around you like blue more than pink. The idea is to keep having fun, but raise awareness about stereotypes in the process.
GRID received an overwhelming response as Adil was targeting low cost Android devices to host her games.
She has a team working for her in Islamabad as she herself focuses on business development in USA.
Mariam’s GRID got excellent response, and now she is storming gaming industry with her ideas. A passionate development practitioner and an aspiring social entrepreneur, Mariam believes in the power of young people, especially women, and has a vision of a world where empowered girls are not a minority but a norm. Her favourite quote this year is “Why can’t “run like a girl” mean win the race?”.