A crash course in saving the world starts today

Jane McGonigal, of World Without Oil and SuperStruct fame has turned her attention to producing a gaming experience which elicits social innovation and changemaking. It's called "Urgent Evoke: a crash course in saving the world". The game launches today (March 3rd, 2010), and this season's round closes on May 12th.

EVOKE trailer (a new online game) from Alchemy on Vimeo.

For more, check out this recent Worldchanging interview with Jane McGonigal by Suzie Boss.

Hat tip to Giulia Stefani.

What do you people think of this game? I looked into it yesterday and was glad to see the principles behind it being innovation, ecology and change, but the funding and sponsorship coming from the World Bank??

This is either a deceptive use of 'new media' advertising in place of blatant green washing and ethical forgiveness, or a serious beginning to the 'change a broken system from inside of it' philosophy.

Knowing a little bit of Jane's McGonigal's theories and her previous experiences of being pitched by the US military, I hope that her morals and ethics are truly giving this game's players sincere character and real horizontal platform networks to create from. If not this "Evoke" game will further discredit and trivialize the deeply innovative Alternate Reality Game as a strictly advertising and entertainment medium, not a vehicle for strong social gathering and action...

Posted by: Luke S on March 5, 2010 2:17 PM

Hi Luke!

I'm certainly curious to see what lessons can be learned from it. I'm intrigued by the use of 'mentors', for instance, to help keep the project on track. One could imagine that the use of mentoring (depending how lightweight the commitment) could allow people with limited time, or limited expertise in a given field, to nevertheless make a meaningful contribution. And on paper it looks like a great way to sustain engagement. Engineering motivation is certainly one of Jane McGonigal's keen interests:

The World Bank, presumably, is like any other institution - there are going to be parts of it that will do things you don't like, and other parts that will do things you like. They provided Herman Daly a home to think about ecological economics for many years, for instance.

And I think that's also true of innovation. Every innovation that we work on comes with the knowledge that someone will likely make use of that innovation in ways of which we might not approve.

Let's assume for the moment that McGonigal and team are completely sincere about their efforts, and succeed brilliantly in all the ways we hope they will. I think it's nevertheless highly likely that if experiments like this prove successful in engaging a lot of people, systems like these unquestionably will be used for greenwashing, cynically used as advertising, gamed, and so forth. That's been the general trend of new internet applications. At the same time, if successful, they have the potential to create new levels of engagement with social innovation and civil society, and that's all to the good. I like very much, of course, that McGonigal is keen on the use of fun and play, and keeping the game play open ended.

One thing that I think bears thinking about is what the implications of this kind of technology are for things like wiki security, which Karl Schroeder does such a good job of evoking (excusing the pun), in Safety Glass:


Posted by: Mark Tovey on March 5, 2010 4:54 PM

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