PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Reviewing Third World Farmer as a class assignment

twf-ss4Simulations need not to be complicated, sophisticated, or even accurate to provide teachable moments. In my own classes, for example, I have had students review and critique the “banana republic” simulator Tropico as a way of encouraging them to think about how game play does—and does not— reflect real world processes of politics and economic development.

Prof. Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé at Bishop’s University sends on another example—a simulation review assignment from her second year course on international affairs:

 The course presented an overview of the main political, economic and social issues in the developing world.  Throughout the course, various simulations were used to illustrate the themes covered in class. Students were asked to pick one of the simulations proposed in the course outline and provide a debriefing on how the game reflected /diverged from the political, economic, and social dynamics at play in a real developing country/area.

On of her students, Danielle Keating, chose to compare the game Third World Farmer to rural life in Sub-Saharan Africa. In her debrief Danielle argues:

Online games and simulations have become increasingly popular with teachers and professors in the undergraduate classroom. Many find that they are an excellent way of illustrating complex and challenging materials in an alternative way (Wainwright, 2014). 3rd World Farmer (TWF) is an online game that hopes to simulate what it is like to be a farmer in the third world. Its goal is to generate an emotional reaction from player in industrialized countries when they realize the plights those living in the rural third world might face (3rd World Farmer Team, 2014). The game is set in Africa, however, the issues explored in the game are common in many developing countries. The purpose of this paper will be to explore how well 3rd World Farmer simulates the reality of farm life in the developing world. I will argue that although TWF does an excellent job of showing the volatility in external factors and the impacts these factors can have on farmers in the third world, the game fails to demonstrate the often permanent effects of external, uncontrollable factors, and further ignores many impacts of family based issues on the lives of these people. In order to accomplish this, I will compare TWF to rural life in Sub- Saharan Africa (SSA). Three major themes will be explored; farmland and factors that can increase or decrease its size and ability to yield crops, the impacts of illness on family life, and fertility rates in SSA.

You’ll find—with Danielle’s permission—her full (4,000 word) review here.

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