Does the World Bank have a sense of humor?

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Perhaps the title is a rhetorical question, but I felt obliged to ask it after seeing the latest parody of a World Bank initiative. If you've been ignoring CNN, you may have missed the news that the World Bank Institute recently launched a massively multiplayer game called Evoke designed to get people around the world to work collaboratively on pressing problems like food security, human rights, etc. Evoke builds a storyline based around a comic book (eh hem, sorry, graphic novel) to lay out a quest each week. The initiative is still very new, so it is hard to judge its value, but in general I see great potential in "serious games" like this.

It took very little time for a parody of Evoke to crop up, called (appropriately enough) Invoke. At first, I took it in good humor. Parody and snark have their uses, all the way from Swift's A Modest Proposal to Bill Easterly's Aid Watch. But many of the parodies I've run across lately go beyond useful criticism into the realm of snark for the sake of snark. Take this excerpt from Invoke's about page:

The objective of INVOKE is to ideologically demobilize the next generation of potential anti-capitalist activists all over the world. It targets educated layers of African youth – young people most in danger of critiquing and opposing the World Bank’s policies in their region.

Not the kind of parody designed to lead to thoughtful discussion or action. And, unlike Swift's A Modest Proposal, not really that funny in the end, which may be the real sin of a would-be parodist.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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