Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

World Bank = gaming geeks?

One might be excused these days from thinking that the World Bank is becoming the Games Workshop or Electronic Arts of international financial institutions. They have the Carana simulation on fragile and conflict-affected countries (which my PaxSims co-conspirator Gary Milante moderates). They have the award-winning Evoke game that Jane McGonigal designed, intended to “encourage [African] students to engage in local communities and develop innovative solutions to local development challenges.” There is SimSIP, a “set of user-friendly simulation tools that make it easier to conduct policy-oriented empirical work on a wide range of social indicators and poverty.” The World Bank is also using a role-playing simulation to help build national capacities to address problems of money laundering and corruption (designed, in this case, by another good friend and gaming buddy Tommy Fisher —which helps to explain why we haven’t been able to play D&D, 40k, Labyrinth, or steampunk Victorian zombie adventures in weeks, since he’s off travelling the world).

Now the World Bank Institute has issues a request for proposals for two new (computer) games to address processes of political coalition-building (with an initial focus on the issue of procurement reform) and urban development:

Both products are intended to enhance existing multi-national training programs and activities that emphasize the key role of coalition building in leadership. These digital games would be added to traditional materials WBI is utilizing in its leadership workshops. Preference will be given to a vendor who has already developed similar game simulations and can re-purpose an existing technology and game structure to serve this project. Each game is conceived of as a single player strategy game. Relevant examples include Executive Command and Peacemaker. The interface is expected to be simple and accessible, with easy to use game mechanics, targeted at non-gamers.

If anyone is interested, they’ll find the full RFP here. The closing date is 28 February 2011.


You’ll notice that the World Bank’s RFP suggests that game designers “re-purpose an existing technology and game structure to serve this project.” Well, in that case, what better lesson could there be in the importance of coalition-building stakeholder consultation—or, more accurately, the costs of failing to do those things—than World of Warcraft’s legendary Leeroy Jenkins?

It’s all there. Shared interests. Teamwork. Coordination. Dragon eggs. Chicken. They just need to somehow integrate that part about “Procurement Reforms – from legislation (passing the law) to law implementation and acceptance.” How hard can that be?

4 responses to “World Bank = gaming geeks?

  1. Ian Mitchell 14/06/2012 at 4:54 am

    Games are types of learning experiences. They may also be good ways of getting economists and other analysts, like Operational Researcers or Social Researchers to understans each other’s terms.

  2. Skip 25/02/2011 at 6:10 pm

    Tying this back to “Leeroy Jenkins” is inspired genious!


  3. Gary Milante 19/02/2011 at 4:33 pm

    Ha, a great post, Rex. We’re certainly increasing the number of games used for teaching – now we need more folks like Tommy doing these games well!

  4. Tommy Fisher 17/02/2011 at 7:31 pm

    Apologies for the lack of gaming. I will do my best to make it up to you.

    That being said, the realm of professional “serious” gaming is ever increasing at the Bank, thanks in no small part to Gary’s Carana sim. Based on feedback thus far from some Indonesian KPK sim attendees, all the world wants to be a “geek”. they’re already inquiring about help in designing their own scenarios for the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Corruption sim.

    The Bank has realized the advantage of dynamic, engaging training solutions (read: serious games), and this attitude is contagious as other partner organizations (governmental and NGO) are coming on board with requests for gaming solutions. Gamestorming has become a very real, and increasingly lucrative field of endeavor.

    To borrow from a famous phrase: “the geek shall inherit the Earth”. The next time someone is about to tell a kid to stop “wasting” their time playing games, they might want to think twice!

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