A few months ago, at the Web 2.0 Summit, Mark Pincus from Zynga talked about some of the ways that online gaming, by connecting people to ideas, could be used for social change. While there weren't many concrete suggestions on how to do that, the idea that online gaming was an area where its full potential was yet to be discovered.
(Disclaimer: EVOKE is a project sponsored by the World Bank Institute, so it's particularly relevant in this context. But even if it wasn't, the intersection between international development and social gaming is one that is worth exploring.)
EVOKE is an online game designed to teach collaboration, creativity, knowledge networking, entrepreneurship, courage, resourcefulness, sustainability, and vision.
Our goal: to empower young people all over the world, and especially in Africa, to start tackling the world’s toughest problems: poverty, hunger, sustainable energy, water security, conflict, disaster relief, health care, education, human rights.
And a few thoughts about the power of the collective intelligence, from an article by Jane at the Christian Science Monitor:
Despite stereotypes of antisocial gamers who prefer to consume rather than create, most video-gamers are in fact engaged in a highly collaborative effort to exhaustively understand their favorite games. The video-gaming community is, quite simply, engaged in intense and highly successful "collective intelligence."
The term "collective intelligence" was coined by French philosopher Pierre Levy in 1994. He argued that, because the Internet allows a rapid, open, and global exchange of data and ideas, the network should "mobilize and coordinate the intelligence, experience, skills, wisdom, and imagination of humanity" in new and unexpected ways.
Thanks to the unique nature of digital gaming, gamers may be the world's most literate and practiced community when it comes to developing these new, real-world skills of collaboration and collective intelligence.
I'll admit, this whole idea of social gaming for social change is a bit new to me, but I'm extremely interested and want to learn more.
Do you have any background, experience, or expertise on online social gaming? Do you agree that games could be used to change the world? Let me know, I'm looking to learn more.
And if you're interested, check out EVOKE and let me know what you think of it. I'll be playing along as well.
(Photo: Jane McGonigal at TED2010 on Flickr.)