Urgent Evoke Asks Players to Make the World a Better Place

Urgent Evoke Asks Players to Make the World a Better Place

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A new "alternate reality game" will allow players to make a difference in the real world and in their personal life.

Urgent Evoke is a alternate-reality game created by game designer Jane McGonigal that launches March 3. It is a game designed to cause real social action in exchange for in-game benefits, with the top players being granted mentorships, internships, start-up money and scholarships. The game is designed specifically to empower people living in Africa (though anyone is allowed to play), where innovation and entrepreneurial action is trailing when compared to Western countries.

The game, which is funded by World Bank, will last for 10 weeks. Every Wednesday, a new challenge is presented within the in-game universe such as a water shortage or famine, and a message is sent out to players who do things in real life to help solve these issues. Proof of the completion of these tasks is posted by players in the form of pictures, videos, or blog entries that are then reviewed and graded by the community and awarded points based on their performance. The narrative uses a graphic novel style and follows an in-game character tracking these problems and sending out messages in order to help them be resolved. In real life, this translates to social action by players for the benefit of their community.

So why a game? McGonigal posits gamers are the most equipped to deal with the issues confronting the world, because gamers are trained to believe that they can win. She hopes people will take the enthusiasm people show for games and translate them to doing good in the real world.

Opponents of the idea, however, say games aren't the answer. Kimberly Young, the founder of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and a psychology PhD said online games are an addictive force in our society and skills developed in online games hedge out the development of real-world skills. Others note Africa has the lowest level of internet access, which prevents the target audience from taking part. Indeed, only 400 of the 3,500 who have signed up for the game live in Africa, but McGonigal says this is mitigated by the fact that a cell phone is all that is required to access the game's content.

Despite of criticism, McGonigal feels this game can succeed. Her first gaming venture, World Without Oil challenged players to re-imagine their lives without fossil fuel. Though she did not conduct scientific focus groups with World Without Oil she reported positive feedback from a number of players who had changed their energy consumption as a result. Should this game prove successful, World Bank is looking to sponsor Arabic versions, and later sequels in Africa. With the infrastructure of online gaming available, McGonigal shows the potential to reach a large number of people. While the "game" component is more focused on real-world action,her belief in gamers is strong, so we can only hope gamers will rise to the challenge and prove her right.

Source: CNN via GamePolitics

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Austin MacKenzie:
Kimberly Young, the founder of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and a psychology PhD said online games are an addictive force in our society and skills developed in online games hedge out the development of real-world skills.

Are you kidding me? There's loads of things games can help you with IRL. For example, surgeons who perform complex, precise surgeries have a higher rate of successful surgery if they play games. Civilization has taught me about the great nations throughout history and their respective leaders. BioShock is basically all of Ayn Rand's books condensed into a game. Mass Effect is based on science fiction, which in turn is based in science. ME's helped me learn about the periodic table of elements, quantum mechanics, and kinematics - kine-freakin'-matics!! How else would I ever learn that Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space?

I wonder if this game will have achievements...

Triggerhappy938:
I wonder if this game will have achievements...

lmao, nice link in.

Always did like th ARG's!

When did people start forgetting that games are games... For entertainment. I play a game to loose myself in a world or unwind. People need to remember this when they make claims and all these links...

Interesting project.
Of course, if it fails, the media will inevitably use this to once again lash out at video games...

scifidownbeat:

Austin MacKenzie:
Kimberly Young, the founder of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and a psychology PhD said online games are an addictive force in our society and skills developed in online games hedge out the development of real-world skills.

Are you kidding me? There's loads of things games can help you with IRL. For example, surgeons who perform complex, precise surgeries have a higher rate of successful surgery if they play games. Civilization has taught me about the great nations throughout history and their respective leaders. BioShock is basically all of Ayn Rand's books condensed into a game. Mass Effect is based on science fiction, which in turn is based in science. ME's helped me learn about the periodic table of elements, quantum mechanics, and kinematics - kine-freakin'-matics!! How else would I ever learn that Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space?

I second this disagreement. Thanks to Age of Empires i have learnt far more about history than my many years of education ever managed to teach me.

What do you have to say about this one, Thompson and Atkinson?

Scrythe:
What do you have to say about this one, Thompson and Atkinson?

Atkinson: Clearly we're teaching our young children to invest in blood oil. Gamers with their violent nature will most likely take the same water they are meant to conserve and drown our children in it.
Thompson: It is clear that the man in the photo is that of a terrorist. Gaming promotes terrorism and exploiting third world countries to win. Virtual reality is dangerous.
Atkinson: Wow Jack you're good.
Thompson: Thanks Michael, wanna make out?
Atkinson: .... Okay!

Scene fades to black, Barry White plays in the background

C'mon people, why does this only have 7 comments before me? Gamers cannot be that selfish that this is not seen as good news! You people bitch and whine for politicians to take you seriously and clog up every other thread in the forum with your cries of outrage, but this right here is what can make us gamers matter. Show that gaming has gone beyond entertainment, it's a lifestyle, a hobby, a culture in it's own right. And yet all we have to show for it is the same people begging for people to take them seriously. Perhaps all this thread title needed were the words "Halo vs PS3". Perhaps that will get you out of your chairs.
At least pretend that you give a damn!

I believe, this might be the ONLY game EVER that actually leads to helping and funding others than gaming companies and gaming stores.

Problem is, I still fear that it won't be as interesting to people as it would seem.
Because what I've learned from people so far is that they despise donating. In any form possible. Even tough it only takes some buttons.
Unless the game would inject you with happy pills and epiphany's, there's only a small chance this might be pulled of the way it's intended.
At least that's my negative thought of this.
I'm very negative today

iLikeHippos:
I believe, this might be the ONLY game EVER that actually leads to helping and funding others than gaming companies and gaming stores.

No the Red Cross did one like this a few months ago. It was promptly never heard of again. Much like this one will be.

McGonigal? Reminds me of Proffesor McGonagall from Harry Potter! :D
Interesting thing to do indeed.

scifidownbeat:

Austin MacKenzie:
Kimberly Young, the founder of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery and a psychology PhD said online games are an addictive force in our society and skills developed in online games hedge out the development of real-world skills.

Are you kidding me? There's loads of things games can help you with IRL. For example, surgeons who perform complex, precise surgeries have a higher rate of successful surgery if they play games. Civilization has taught me about the great nations throughout history and their respective leaders. BioShock is basically all of Ayn Rand's books condensed into a game. Mass Effect is based on science fiction, which in turn is based in science. ME's helped me learn about the periodic table of elements, quantum mechanics, and kinematics - kine-freakin'-matics!! How else would I ever learn that Sir Issac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space?

Pokemon taught me that water conducts electricity. And to spell big words like "effective".

 

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