GROW Crop Challenge

The Digital Communications team for our long-time client Oxfam host an annual, internal ‘Digital Week’ to showcase how online innovations are helping the business to meet its objectives, and also educate fellow staff members on how they can use technology more effectively. They recently asked us to create something we could present at the event that could showcase some new technologies that we’ve been working with and, in turn, demonstrate how they might be able to use digital in new and inventive ways.

After an internal ideation session, we decided on a solution: a game which made use of some technology we’d been exploring that allows you to sync a mobile device to another screen and then control what happens on that screen with your mobile phone. We know that Oxfam is always looking for ways to engage with younger audiences and a simple, fun technology demonstrator game seemed ideal for this purpose.

We were also really excited about how this technology could be used effectively by the rest of the Oxfam team. For example, it could work at their fundraising events as a way for spectators to submit messages of support to people running for Oxfam, or just to entertain the kids while they cheered people on; for Oxfam’s army of festival stewards, it could allow festival goers to control what happens on the big screen in the Oxfam tents. And, perhaps most excitingly, we thought it could be great for Oxfam’s extensive local shop network, letting passers-by control interactive shop window displays.

The idea behind the game itself, which we named the GROW Crop Challenge, was to help raise awareness of Oxfam’s food campaigning activities. It’s a simple four-player game that lets you compete with your friends to grow the most crops by swiping up and down with your finger on a water pump image on your phone. The more you swipe, the more crops grow on screen, and the winner is the one who grows the most crops in 30 seconds — cue lots of sore fingers in the office!

We piloted the game as planned at ‘Digital Week’, and it was great to see so many Oxfamers’ interacting with it. But I think my favourite moment was when me and my fellow Computerlovers were on the train down to Oxford and were having a sneaky test game with each other. Seeing everything work perfectly over mobile 3G and dodgy train WiFi was pretty amazing — although we did get a lot of strange looks from the other passengers wondering why on earth we were rubbing our phones so vigorously…