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"Antura and the Letters" - a Mobile Literacy Game for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

CGL aims to adapt the mobile game "Antura and the Letters" to children refugees in Turkey to facilitate their access to literacy education

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Antura addresses the challenge of literacy teaching among the displaced child population, without regular access to schools. There is a lack of educational solutions adapted to refugee settings (camp, mobility, precarious situation), particularly targeting the Arabic speaking population from Syria. In host countries such as Turkey, Antura can contribute to the integration of the refugee population, helping the children to acquire the literacy in the language of the host country.

Explain your innovation.

- "Antura and the Letters" is a free educational mobile game that can be used on android, iOS, phones and tablets. The pilot is an Arabic literacy version of the game, targeting Syrian children refugees in MENA region. We want to transform it into a Turkish language version, addressing Arabic speaking refugees in Turkey, to help their integration. We will promote it through several operations - The pedagogic scope: learning letters, spelling, vocabulary (around 250 words), and providing tools to develop fluent reading. As a secondary objective, the game improves the psychosocial well-being of the (child) player. Principles such as stealth learning and procedural flow through gameplay are used to achieve pedagogical and psychosocial well-being objectives - During the game, the child is tasked with helping the Keeper to watch over the living letters, wild little creatures. Day by day, the player helps the Keeper through multiple mini games which correspond with content from elementary school curriculum - During the first pilot we developed partnerships, design methodologies, production processes, and experiential knowledge on the best ways to reach the refugee population. We want to reapply this knowledge and network to create this new bilingual version of the game, specific to the Turkish situation: to help Arabic children refugees to learn the language of their host country - The pilot version of Antura was the winner of the international call EduApp4Syria

Who benefits?

The main beneficiaries are the dislocated children / refugees between ages 5 - 10 with Arabic roots, hosted in Turkey. These refugees are lacking their mother language literacy and are confronted with a language barrier in their new host location. We want to address particularly the Syrian refugee families in Turkey (3 million people registered), with close to 500,000 children from 5 to 10. Only half of them are attending a formal school or an educational center. To measure the impact of Antura we are using several indicators: - General statistics coming from tools like google analytics. For instance, we know that the Arabic literacy pilot was already installed by nearly 20,000 users - User test experiments, in particular playtests with children to evaluate their engagement with the game - Educational and well-being impact assessment using EGRA literacy test, and psychological well-being tests such as PedsQL, WISC or SDQ

How is your innovation unique?

- A game approach to engage the children: Antura is not an e-learning application but a game. It successfully implements the properties of gameplay to motivate children to engage with pedagogical content - Education everywhere: The goal is to reach children outside of educational structures. Though Antura can be used to complement the lessons taught in educational centers, it is actually designed as a stand-alone literacy tool, usable on any family smartphone - Adapted to the crisis situation: once release, the game will be permanently available in the google store and appstore. To adapt to the mobility condition, the game is fully playable offline and weighs less than 100meg. It also runs on previous generations of smartphones and versions of operating systems - Easy to promote: The outreach can be done in many ways: collaboration with educational organizations, campaigns in camps, and digital campaigns targeting parents in regions or cities with a high number of refugees

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

- Should we plan a free Turkish literacy version for Turkish children? The goal would be to avoid a potential negative reaction in the host population (i.e. “They are proposing a free program for refugees, what about our children?”) - Can we extend the core beneficiaries to the Kurdish speaking children refugees in Turkey? (This demand a different version of the game)

Tell us more about you.

The Cologne Game Lab (CGL), Germany, is an institute of the TH Köln (The University of Applied Sciences of Cologne). CGL promotes the research and development of interactive content and is bridging the gap between interactive entertainment and learning. For this version of "Antura and the Letters" we are collaborating with Wixel Studios (a Lebanese game company), Video Games Without Borders (a non-profit organization from Spain), and the Bahcesehir University in Turkey.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Armed conflicts in Syria and near areas have led to a wide-scale educational emergency. Millions of people have been dislocated. For countries like Turkey, there is a need for tools and programs to help this refugee population to integrate in their host country, especially the children that have no longer access to permanent schools. Though the Arabic speaking population is the most represented, there are also a large number of dislocated Kurdish speaking refugees.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

The goal is to distribute and promote Antura throughout the entirety Turkey and reach as much as families as possible. We plan to partner with Turkcell, a major phone operator, and participate in their initiative “Hello Hope”. It’s suite of apps helps the integration of refugees with more than 200,000 users. In addition to this global aspect, we will extend existing collaboration with educational and social partners to set up local operation, using the game as a complementary educational tool.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for less than one year.

In-country Networks

- Current partnership with the Bahcesehir University of Istanbul; with the support of the ministry of education and the AKDEM(social institution) we work with groups of children in dedicated educative spaces - In contact with Turkcell to prepare the diffusion via “Hello Hope”. They have been familiar with Antura since UNESCO/UNHCR Mobile Learning Week 2017 - A network of field organizations involved in the pilot and our global digital media network to promote the game in the refugee community

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

- The consortium has the experience of managing international collaborations in complex settings (including coordination between industry partners, national institutions, universities, NGOs and non-profit organizations) - The team members have more than 10 years of experience in the game industry and research, with a majority of titles for children - The communication team already drove numerous promotional experiments during the pilot, from field operation in camps to digital marketing

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are not formally registered but are a formal initiative through a school / university.

Organization Location

The consortium lead (CGL) is based in Germany. The partners’ team includes people in the EU and MENA, mainly in Turkey, Lebanon, Spain, and Italy.


Antura pilot promotion web site for parents (Arabic and English) : Consortium partners : - Project holder, the Cologne Game Lab institute : and their mother university TH-Köln: - Video game without borders: - Wixel studio: - Bahcesehir University:

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Our team works closely with its core audience: displaced Arabic-speaking children and their parents. We apply methods such as personas, focus groups, early prototype testing with questionnaires and interviews, online surveys, playtests and data from game sessions for analyzing the game. Therefore the pilot game is updated regularly. The next iteration will integrate better retention features (deriving from analytics) and tools for the use in educational centers (deriving from field feedbacks).

Who will implement this Idea?

The Production of the Arabic to Turkish version will involve several people of the main consortium (CGL TH-Koln, Bahcesehir University, Video Game Without Borders, Wixel Studio): Game developers, pedagogical experts, a communication team and the field personal. In addition, some external partner will join for specific tasks, e.g. the organization of a playtest in a camp, a promotional event, or the organization of an adapted workshop in an educational center. To give you an idea, more than 60 persons were involved (workers and voluntaries) during the year of Antura’s pilot development.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Our end users are primarily children refugees in Turkey, but their parents are strong prescriptors and integrated in our design process. One of the big challenge for these families is the education of the youngest and their integration into the Turkish society. Even if most of the refugee children have access to elementary school, the conditions are not good: classrooms are overcrowded and it’s only a part-time school (the classrooms are used twice a day, divided between two different cohorts of students). And for some of them, there is no school at all. Mobile phones are now a crucial belonging for the displaced population. The use of it as an educational platform seems an obvious way to, at least, give access to an appropriate content for their situation.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

The lead of the consortium is the Cologne Game Lab – TH Koln, an institute of the university of applied sciences, Cologne. Antura is one of the key research programs of our institute and has a big impact for the whole university. Our plan for the next years involves the development of other language versions, communication about the existing pilot, and the creation of a bilingual version – like the one we are applying for at OpenIdeo. The established project consortium has only one private company, Wixel Studio, a very well established game company in Lebanon.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

Impact: During the 3 first months of deployment, we aim to reach at least 20.000 installations of Antura on the phones of refugees, summing up to 50.000 during the first year. And we want to work with educational centers to set up a minimum of 10 classrooms equipped with tablets to use Antura as a supplement during the same time. Question: The big question is the actual scope of support we will get from social and educational institutions from Turkey.

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Some indicators we apply to evaluate the impact of Antura: - Dissemination of the solution in the community of refugees: Number of installations, google and apple analytics. - Pedagogical impact: EGRA literacy evaluation questionnaires in before/after tests. In both cases: as standalone or supplement for educational center, each in comparison to a control group. - Psychosocial well-being impact: the Pe.dSQL and some cognitive modules of the WISC, in concordance to the EGRA.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

A 2 years workload: - 1st year is dedicated to the versioning and transformation of the Arabic version of Antura into a Arabic-To-Turkish one, including the design process involving the beneficiaries and numerous playtest. We will set up the communication and organization of the impact tests during this period of time, too. - 2nd year: impact test, iteration of the content and dissemination of the solution through digital marketing and promoted through the institutions’ network.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Above $1,000,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 5-10 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are a registered entity, but not in the country in which we plan to implement our Idea.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Other

Attachments (1)

Poster Arabic - Antura and the Letters.pdf

Example of analog campaign material: poster for promotion of the Arabic pilot in the camps and educational centers. Cut-out, flyers, stickers were also designed.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rasal Lia

Thanks for your good idea for children. Do you have any plan to ensure that the children have mobiles at hands to learn?
Wish your success.

Photo of Sebastian

Hi Rasal
We cannot be sure children have access to a phone.
We are counting on the fact that the children play with their parents phone. So a play session to achieve a step in the progression is short, around 10mn.
For the most fortunate families, they have a tablet for the kids.
All the best

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