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Battle for Humanity: The Mobile App that takes users on a hero-journey, becoming change-makers in real-life.

Equipping young people with the skills and confidences to use conflict as an opportunity to create positive change -- not violence.

Photo of Jessica Murrey
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Battle for Humanity (B4H) is a social movement and game that turns virtual interaction into real world action. The game is centered around "missions" – either on or offline – that will fight violence, hate, and discrimination. Our goal is to empower today’s generation use conflict as an opportunity to create change.

B4H will be built on a native mobile and web application that rewards completed missions with points, social recognition, and higher rankings that open up new levels of gameplay. Users are able to choose a mission from several options divided into skill-building, awareness-raising, or taking action. They can be as easy as sharing a video on Facebook and tweeting a celebrity or as challenging as creating a clothing drive for refugees and volunteering at an after-school program for at-risk youth. Once you reach a certain level of the game, we'll ask users to submit their own ideas for missions. Our goal is to take you on a hero-journey that equips them with the confidence to deal with conflict, embrace difference, and make real transformative change in their communities.

Explain your idea

The problem is violent and destructive conflict. This includes: hate, prejudice, violence, extremism, sexual violence – basically all types of violence that is physical, psychological or structural. Conflict it is normal and a part of life, but it doesn’t have to turn violent. We believe conflict is an indicator that something is wrong, but it’s also an opportunity to create positive change. Our inability to deal with difference prevents us from making progress on every issue facing mankind today. But if we can equip young people with the tools to use conflict as an opportunity to create change, to embrace those with differences, to attack the problem instead of each other – we can change the world. That’s the idea behind Battle for Humanity. We’ve taken everything that youth spend time on today – video games, social media, mobile phones – and combined it with our organizations 35 years’ experience in peacebuilding to create a platform that will both attract and engage youth. Here’s how it works: User’s download the mobile app or sign-up online then the sign to pledge to join an a user’s account is set up with an outward facing profile. To beginning playing, users go to the Mission’s page where they can choose which missions to complete. Missions are broken down into three categories: building skills, raising awareness, or taking action. Missions are on and off-line and vary on decrees of difficulty. The missions are as simple as share a video on Facebook or leave an anonymous note of encouragement for someone who’s being bullied. Or they could require more effort like mow the lawn of an elderly person from a different community, create survival kits for the homeless in your area, or start a “white shirt” day at your school to raise awareness for gender-based violence. Youth take pictures or post other requirements on the app to prove they completed the mission. Other users can comment and like the completed missions of those they follow on their homefeed. Soon, we’ll have points/rewards assigned with the missions, that users will be able to spend in a marketplace and will qualify them for the leaderboards. The more missions users complete earns them higher “ranks”. This opens up new levels of game play including submitting their own ideas for missions, so that user-generated content will soon populate the platform and keep it relevant for the user. The overall goal is to take young people on a hero-journey that equips them with the confidence to deal with conflict, embrace difference, and make real transformative change in their communities. 

Who Benefits?

Our platform targets global youth aged 13-30. Children and youth disproportionately suffer from destructive conflict. Not only are they victimized by violence, but they are often perpetrators. The largest cohort in history, this generation of youth is too often pulled into armies, rebel groups, militias, and gangs and are caught in cycles of violence that infiltrate their lives and outlast the wars of their parents. Although youth have long been viewed as both victims and agents of violence, there is growing recognition among the international community that youth are often agents of peace. In fact, youth all over the world, despite living in conflict contexts, play valuable roles as agents of positive and constructive change. But today’s young peacebuilders and youth groups, and their many more sympathetic but not yet activated peers, are typically isolated and unsupported. B4H will give them the tools and community they crave to accomplish the change they want to see in the world.

How is your idea unique?

Three things make Battle for Humanity unique: 1) our brand identity 2) gamification framework 3) social recognition elements. First the brand: we’ve discovered that the language, images and concepts that most peacebuilding programs use to engage youth are only attracting youth that are already interested in peacebuilding. What about youth that are activists, at-risk, vulnerable for recruiting, or just plain bored? Youth are looking to belong, connect, and to matter. So we’re taken the modern archetype of a hero that youth will recognize from Avengers, Call of Duty, and Assassin's Creed, and combined with our theory of change to create a new narrative for our hero- journey. Secondly, we've work with UPenn's Positive Psychology center to make a gamification framework that adds to youth's well-being. And finally, added social recognition to the platform. There are other online platforms that give youth challenges, but we've not seen anyone else to apply these three elements.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

Tell us more about you

My Name is Jessica Murrey and I work for an international NGO called Search for Common Ground ( Search is the world’s largest dedicated peacebuilding organization, operating in 35 countries in Africa, Mena, Asia, and the USA. We tackle everything from countering violent extremism, to back-door negations; from gender- based violence to reconciliation after genocide. We’re always looking for new and interesting ways to bring people together as allies, attacking the problem instead of each other. Our headquarters is in DC, but I work remotely from Oregon. I’m the Creative Lead for B4H. My background is in creating awareness campaigns: including anti-child abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse, as well as campaigns in Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan and other global campaigns for Search. I hold the creative vision for B4H. This includes the brand, messaging, user experience, and creative direction. My partner Alicia is the Program Lead for the project. She has her Masters in International Relations with a focus on Conflict Resolution and is responsible for program design and implementation. She makes sure B4H’s missions follow best practice, fit within our framework, and affect the change we’re aiming to accomplish. Alicia and I are hoping to bring on an in house technical team to help us adapt and manage the platform. We currently have advisor all around the world that are adding their expertise to the game, including our sustainable business plan for the app. B4H is currently an initiative of Search for Common Ground. Search has always encouraged social entrepreneurship among staff and has supported B4H from the very beginning.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Jessica, thanks for sharing! What a creative solution!

Can you share where you are at in the development process?

What are one or two learnings you had from user testing during your early prototypes?

What are your big needs right now beyond funding?

Last question is this your organization?

Excited to learn more!

Photo of Jessica Murrey

Hi Ashley! Thanks for your interest. I'm happy to share more.

1) Right now where we are with product development, we've have the front end designs, UX flow, and a pretty idea of the first prototype for this. We're currently interviewing freelancers with product management and mobile app development to draft a Statement of Work (with user stories and feature requirements) for the Proof of Concept. We're hoping to have the SOW in the next several weeks, then we'll use that to put out a call for bids on the Proof of Concept.

2) We've been testing some of our core assumptions and our missions on a Facebook group with a small number of youth. Our goal was to begin testing our content to see if youth were willing to complete the missions and if so, which ones and what characteristics might these more popular missions have in common. The three most popular missions so far are called: “Spy Game”, “Battle Style” and “Stand for the Silent.” Spy Game encourages the player to write an anonymous note to someone who is being bullied in the community. Battle Style leads the player through a quiz that reveals his or her conflict style, from collaborator to competitor. Stand for the Silent asks young people to choose a violent conflict and do a silent protest in a public place for the victims of that violence. We were also able to begin drawing some initial conclusions about characteristics these missions have in common. We did this by looking at elements of each mission, such as the level of mastery over peacebuilding skills the mission requires, the level of autonomy, or freedom of interpretation, the mission allows, the logistics of time and resources required, and the particular peacebuilding competencies the mission intends to strengthen. We analyzed the participation of young people both by overall correlation between popularity of a mission and the level of difficulty, autonomy, or logistics required as well as by identifying trends in the choices youth made between paired missions. Because we offered two mission options side by side each week, we could set up an A/B comparison to see, given the choice, would young people choose, for example, a more difficult mission or a simpler one.
In a statistically significant finding, however, 75% of young people chose to complete the mission of the pair that required less autonomy, meaning the young person had less freedom in interpreting how to carry out the mission. Further data will allow us to determine if this is because these missions have more clear instructions, take less time, or simply offer a lower barrier to getting started. There also seems to be a correlation between youth being more likely to pick the less difficult mission of the pair, but so far we do not have enough data to determine if the relationship is significant and will persist over time and with different groups.
3. Besides funding our two biggest needs are a technical team and recruitment for initial users and testers. Eventually, we'd like to have an in-house technical team or a technical partner that would develop, adapt, and manage the technical side of the mobile and web application so that we're responsive to our users. My partner and I (and our organization) do not have expertise in this. Our first attempt at this, we trusted a development firm that came highly recommended but did not deliever in the end. We also need to be recruiting potential users. We're stilling testing missions and assumptions on our Facebook group, and now we're expanding to a Facebook Page. We want to start building a community, continue learning, and build a strong core user base. We have good connections abroad through our organization, but ironically we don't have as good connections in the US.

4. YES! is our organization!

5. Do you think I should include any of this in the application above? I was running out of characters and picking and choosing information. Any advice is welcome!

Photo of Dev4X Bodo

Great work!