Fooya, a Facebook game developed by city boy Bhargav Sri Prakash, looks to raise awareness on the harmful effects of consuming processed foods
If Bhargav Sri Prakash is to be believed, obesity might turn out to be as big a problem as climate change. The impact of global food brands (penetrating the Indian markets) on India’s health will be a disaster, he says. This is precisely why the U.S.-based mechanical engineer finds it paramount to raise awareness about the food we consume on a day-to-day basis. Leaning back in his chair at a coffee shop in the city, he asks rhetorically, “Do you know how much sugar cola has?” knowing very well that common people don’t really think about the sugar in the drink.
Bhargav’s mission is to create awareness on the harmful effects of consuming processed foods. While he promises to raise our consciousness, he also promises a lot of fun. His company Friends Learn has conceptualised and produced its second game Fooya (a game on Facebook), through which he plans to educate people about the calories in food items they consume often. This method, he says, is ‘learnification through gamification’. Bhargav promises it is a very simple concept. “We have tried to incorporate important aspects of macro economics in Fooya.”
To stay alive, the players are required to throw specific food items to destroy enemies and dodge unhealthy food items that come their way. This way, the players subconsciously learn about food items and the harm they can do to their health. “As the players try to destroy the enemies by making them fatter and stay alive by consuming healthier foods, they understand the impact of eating a hamburger along with a fully whipped shake and fries.”
I couldn’t resist asking Bhargav, a native of Chennai and alumnus of College of Engineering, Guindy, if he thought it fit to focus on obesity when more Indians die of malnutrition than overeating. “As the cities get bigger and the population of urban poor increases, they consume cheap food to save money. And cheap food, as we know, is unhealthy.”
Recently, Bhargav and his team conducted a painting competition for all ages, on health and general well-being. “I couldn’t really believe the overwhelming response for the event. We had to quickly conduct an impromptu under-12 event,” says Bhargav. Flying back to the U.S., Bhargav hopes people find learning through gaming interesting.