In 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education , I included gaming as a trend to keep an eye on. The gaming industry has been growing faster than the movie industry in the past number of years and is occupying an increasing number of hours of time in a young person’s day. Educational games it can be argued have the potential to reach students outside of the classroom where some traditional educational methodologies are failing. This genre of “serious games” has indeed mushroomed over the past number of years. A number of “serious games ” have been developed in the fields of education, business, health, politics, engineering, defense, etc. In order to better understand the impact and potential of such games, we decided to develop and evaluate an educational game focused on youth social innovation and development – Evoke : a crash course in changing the world.
Evoke emerged from discussions with universities in Africa who increasingly wanted to find avenues to encourage their students to engage in local communities and develop innovative solutions to local development challenges. The universities were searching for ways to engage students in real world problems and to develop capacities for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial action that many believe will be the engine for job creation now and in the future.
Evoke therefore is designed to empower young people all over the world, and especially in Africa, to start solving urgent social problems like hunger, poverty, disease, conflict, climate change, sustainable energy, health care, education, and human rights.; to collaborate with others globally; and to develop real world ideas to address these challenges.
Players will be challenged to complete a series of ten missions and ten quests -- one per week, over the course of the ten-week game. The "text book" for this course is an online graphic novel written by Emmy-award nominated producer Kiyash Monsef. Art for the graphic novel is by Jacob Glaser, who Monsef describes as "an extraordinary visual storyteller who has been working at the leading edge of the comic world doing motion comics for Stan Lee."
Set in the year 2020, the story follows the efforts of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, as players unravel the mystery of the Evoke network, they will form their own innovation networks: brainstorming creative solutions to real-world development challenges, learning more about what it takes to be a successful social innovator, and finding ways to make a difference in the world.
Players who successfully complete ten online missions in ten weeks will be able to receive a special distinction: World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010. Top players will also earn mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world, and scholarships to share their vision for the future at the EVOKE Summit in Washington DC.
The game's creative director, alternate reality pioneer Jane McGonigal , is debuting the game at this week's TED conference  in Long Beach, California. As she describes the game, "An evoke is an urgent call to innovation. When we evoke, we look for creative solutions. We use whatever resources we have. We get as many people involved as possible. We take risks. We come up with ideas that have never been tried before. That's what we're asking players to do in this online game. To learn how to tackle the world's toughest problems with creativity, courage, resourcefulness and collaboration."
For the World Bank Institute and our partners infoDev  and the Korean Trust Fund for ICT and Development, we very much hope to learn from this game. The evaluation component will try to better understand how serious games such as Evoke could help develop 21st century skills, encourage young people to learn about local development issues, foster social networks and collaboration to brainstorm creative solutions to development challenges, think critically about the future and what actions are needed today to create tomorrow's world; and create an engaging learning environment that is interactive, engaging, and well.....fun.
Evoke will launch on March 3, 2010 and the site is now open for pre-game registration at www.urgentevoke.com . Please join us in this adventure!