Here is my response to Alex Stovell's dragon-slaying challenge
The challenge: come up with simple, low-tech ways to increase involvement and get insight from people in the areas Evoke is targeting.
My main suggestion is that we make this a much more collaborative game-- in a number of ways. The first is to involve more of the local, non-technical people in ALL our countries by forming local working groups which would be able to meet face-to-face. These would be made up of both players and non-players, with the players charged with communicating the will of the wh*** group accurately. Perhaps some players would also want to play individually, but when they were acting in their 'guild role' their first responsibility would be giving a voice to the non-players in their group.
Although membership in these local groups should be open to all, members should be particularly active in trying to recruit members from marginalized groups. In Western countries this would mean outreach to homeless shelters, poor neighborhoods, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. People without the means to physically meet with the group should be paired with a group member who agrees to relay the latest group discussion to the interested person and get their response and suggestions.
Each local group would have two roles: 1) to find a partner group in another country with whom they would develop a project in that country, and 2) to facilitate the development of a project in their own country with the help of a second partner group in another country. In this way, knowledge of other countries-- and the vitally important connections with other people-- would be developed in all the playing countries simultaneously. Because it is not just the West that needs to learn how things work in the developing world: the developing world will be greatly empowered to act on their own behalf if they know more about life in the West-- how things work-- and don't work. It's been shown that even thinking about life far away greatly increases our creativity. How much more might all of us accomplish if we not only thought this way every day but had real connections to people in those places? I think it's also important that we do everything we can to make it clear that people in other countries-- however poor and lacking in resources-- are not objects of charity, but sources of wisdom and experience.
Some practicalities: in talking about role-playing games, Alex mentioned something which I think is at the heart of many of our problems in playing Evoke: in RPG's, apparently, it is easy to form groups or guilds. I haven't ever played any myself, but I'm imagining that you have a single screen that, while you are going about your game-playing business, also allows you to keep track of what your team-members are up to.
Now on Evoke, I can have, I believe, as many friends as I like-- but we have no easy way of keeping of them or interacting with them, except individually in posts or messages. In this way Evoke is like Facebook, which always irritates me because if I want to check in on a particular friend I haven't heard from in awhile I have to go through several screens, find their name on an alphabetical list and go to their Facebook page to do it.
So-- I think we need to have some kind of group or guild boards. A simple way that Twitter handles this might work here: you can now make sub-sets of your followers by putting people people on lists. I have lists on Twitter for a variety of interests-- including one called 'idea people'. By looking at that I see a nice filtered list of all the things the most interesting people on Twitter have posted recently. Also, more might be done with Twitter, given the widespread access to mobile phones in many parts of the world where internet access, electricity and other infrastructure might be lacking. I don't know if it is possible to update Twitter by SMS in those countries-- I couldn't usually find a local Twitter SMS code when I was traveling recently-- but if so perhaps we could have Evoke Guild accounts for each group so that people who aren't otherwise tech or game savvy could participate by sending a greeting or suggestion by SMS.
Groups can also 'meet' with their partner groups outside the Evoke board. Other Ning groups could be formed, Yahoo has a good format for groups-- and I'm quite willing to set up and host one or several group bulletin boards on my own websites. I also have some social networking software which I'm not quite technically literate enough to install. If someone wanted to walk me through the process I would be happy to put that at the disposal of interested groups.
I will start to contact some of the other people on Evoke from Prague and talk to them about setting up a local Czech group.
Please let me know what you think. The more participation the better!