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Submitted by Rex Brynen on
There's no doubt about the exciting potential of both social networking tools and serious games to deliver educational content—I teach on international development issues myself, and frequently use them in the classroom. However, having watched EVOKE since its launched, I'll admit to some concerns. Part of these related to interface and playability, where I think the website may have gone for cutting-edge at the cost of playability. More seriously, however, I have real concerns about the substantive content of the first two chapters of the story, which seem to suggest that food security issues are always a function of inadequate local production (they may or may not be, depending on context), and that solutions such as rooftop gardens or (incredibly expensive!) floating gardens are the appropriate sorts of solutions. They almost never are, of course. Frankly, it reads a bit more like a 1960s "cities of the future" issue of Popular Science than it does any serious introduction to issues of agricultural development, agricultural trade, and food security. This is a shame, because food security issues have a complexity to them that can be made interesting to high school and college students, without dramatic reductionism. Sure, there are sometimes simple solutions to complex problems. However, as the World Bank well knows, there are more frequently complex solutions to complex problems. There's no point teaching bad agricultural economics just to make it more trendy for teens.