Gebnya was a mobile text quest game that educated users on how to communicate with the police and security services in Russia and how to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s information. Team29, an informal association of lawyers and journalists, joined their legal skills with explanatory journalism methods to develop the game in order to reach young activists. The game's name — Gebnya — is a Russian slang term for KGB used by those most suspicious of the long arm and dark machinations of the state. Its purpose was to advise and educate on issues regarding the relationship between citizens and the Russian government. The game earned revenue through advertising and in-app purchases, including a voluntary contribution to the cost of the game itself. The income did not cover all expenses, but Team29 was working on new quest scenarios for Gebnya and providing more options for purchases, as well as several new games, including one devoted to preventing domestic violence. In July 2021, authorities declared Team 29 an "undesirable organization," outlawing dissemination of its products, publications, and any other materials under Russian law.
Theory of Change
Human rights gamification helps reach the youngest generation with basic practical and legal information to help them protect their rights within the criminal justice system.
The game aimed to make players "feel how it is when you are on the police’s radar" by walking them through visually depicted interactive scenes simulating a police interrogation, with scenarios that highlight issues relating to access to a lawyer and digital security.
The experiment with a human-rights-related pro-social game was successful on the gaming market through platforms like iTunes and Google Play. It was downloaded over 150,000 times, and 69% of its audience was below the age of 24, as of 2020.