Using Games to Mirror Social Conditions in Developing Countries – 2048 Lagos Edition


[Play the game here]

Technology, particularly games, can be leveraged as an interesting and fun way to attract attention to social issues and generate discussions around them.

As a starting point, I have created a version of the popular 2048 game called 2048 lagos edition (based on an open sourced version) which mirrors the transitions in modes of transportation the average Nigerian makes as he climbs the social ladder. You typically start out in the lower class walking on your legs, ride a bicycle , use an okada, a keke marwa, a molue, danfo , BRT bus  … and then you transition to the upper end of society (terms explained below) .  Now you take a Taxi or drive your own KIA vehicle , RANGE ROVER or a PORSCHE! . The final class is a private JET which ,  as BBC reportsa few people seem to own.

The 2048 game has made the rounds in the news as a fun , addictive , highly copied and also open sourced game. Players earn points by joining boxes similar boxes which merge into a single box with a higher value. Its can be played on a desktop pc using arrow keys or on a mobile device using swipe gestures.


The transport condition pyramid. Source : denvycom

These conditions are not particular to lagos only – they also mirror conditions in developing countries of Africa and Asia . The population distribution at each level typically reduces in a non-linear fashion (more like a pareto distribution) as you go up the pyramid. The probability of transitioning from a level to another is also non-linear. The following video does a better job of describing wealth gaps from a global angle.

Now .. lets explain some terms in the game …


lagoscrossThe most trusty form of transportation! Students , kids , hawkers, and most people at the very bottom of the social pyramid move around on their legs. Walking on the streets of lagos can be really dangerous especially because many roads lack appropriate traffic lights and traffic crossings. Some laudable progress has been made in recent years (overhead bridges and LASTMA enforcement officers), but the situation is still far from idea. Photo source : punchng.


Very few people use bicycles in lagos. Its still an option, but more likely only in the (dwindling) remote villages of lagos rather than the bustling city.


okadaLocal slang for motor bikes and a very passionate topic. It was the dominant and most convenient means of short distance transport for many decades until its recent ban in lagos. High traffic levels and bad roads contribute to the allure of okada’s – they could create paths and meander through traffic quite well. Heck, I’ve seen middle level executives who would use Okadas to beat traffic and  get to their destinations on time. Photo source : hungryabagal

Keke Marwa

kekeMarwaIntroduced by a former military governor of Lagos state tricycles (known as keke marwa)  have increasingly come to replace Okads’s in recent times a  means of transportation. They thrive on the recent ban on Okadas and also the somewhat sheltered nature of their offering. Manufactured primarily in india, keke marwa fares are relatively cheap and suitable for short distance commutes around lagos.


molueVery old buses ( with rusty surfaces that could cause injury) , typically crowded, and infamous for never stopping. They just never stop. They only “slow down” at “bustops” and passengers  “hop on” and “hop off” . I have tried these a couple of times . Bad experience. In all sincerity, it would definitely be a service lagosians if the government formulates policies that see to the gradual removal of these unworthy vehicles from the road. Fares on them are dirt cheap.

Danfo – Arguably the kings of lagos roads.

danfoMass imported volkvagen T3 transporter model, last manufactured in 1992 (22 years ago) . Many of them are fairly comfortable, the older ones arent. But definitely ahead of the molue and keke marwa. Danfo’s are employed for longer distance commutes across lagos and are the dominant vehicles in all bus terminus. They also cover all major routes.

BRT – Bus Rapid Transit

brtAn initiative by the lagos state government owned and run by  the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA)  agency . In many parts of lagos , BRT buses have dedicated lanes with minimal stops and have received wide applause. They generally work well and seats are spacious and comfortable. Hopefully they would replace the molues on the road for good.

TAXIs ,Private Cars and Jets

This is where the main divide resides.  The upper middle class and rich use taxis, private cars of varying quality and then private jets. KIA seems to be a  popular brand for newly minted upper-middle class and brands like range rover and porsche are favoured by the richer ones.

All talk aside .. play the game here.

What are your opinions on the transportation / transport conditions in your city ? What other games mirror social conditions in developing countries ?
Share your opinion below.

About Vykthur

Mobile and Web App Developer and Researcher. Passionate about learning, teaching, and recently - writing.
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