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EVOKE is (was?) an online social game that bills itself as a “ten-week crash course in changing the world.” Produced by the World Bank Institute, it is free and available in a low-bandwidth version, meaning ostensibly that anybody anywhere with an Internet connection can play the game. The game went live earlier this year and had its first “graduating class”—those who complete 10 challenges—in May.
From “How to Play the Game”:
Your mission is to practice your world-changing skills, right now, wherever you are.
Every Wednesday at midnight, a new mission unlocks.
Each mission has three objectives.
LEARN - Investigate our great challenges and share what you discover.
ACT - Get out in the world. Do something small to help solve a real problem.
IMAGINE - Unleash your creativity. Tell a story about the future you want to make.
Alas, there sems to be no activity on the site at this point, and the last blog post was back in May.
But it brings me to my question: Do online games and social network games like Evoke translate into real action? Can these games be useful tools in the struggle against hunger and poverty?
I’ll admit it: I’m a skeptic. I believe that real-world problems require real-world solutions. I also find something unseemly in the very concept—making a game that simulates real suffering, setting up individual gamers as heroes, the idea that the world can be saved as you sit in front of your computer screen. Anybody care to set me straight?

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.