Have any of you ever played the game 3rd World Farmer
? Its a little game someone made "to make you think". In it, you play a poor African family with a few bucks, a barren patch of land, and four options for what to grow (not counting livestock). Your goal is to get "educated", buy off a politician, make money, get a cell phone, and buy a bunch of machines and livestock.
And "make you think". Thats why they made the game. Want to know what I think?
What a f-ing joke.
I can't stand that game, even though I've played it all the way through a dozen times and feel dirty each time. The gamer in me can't stand leaving a challenge unbeaten; the rest of me just rankles at every disgusting assumption they make.
For starters, the paternalistic concept. "3rd World" is a BS term from the Cold War.
Its an anachronism. Calling a country "3rd World" is like calling the Czech Republic or Armenia the USSR. Its not accurate, and even back when they were a part of it, they didn't like it and would have rather NOT been called it.
It also implies that we in the "1st World" somehow know better. That because of our gaudy lifestyles, we're happier, or at least have a higher "standard of living".
The wh*** concept behind 3rd World Farmer is BS. We Westerners look at "poor" subsistence farmers and think we're so superior. Because we've figured out a trick of mother nature, how we can squeeze a few years of unbelievable crop yields out of genetically violated seeds grown with petrochemical fertilizers and systemic poisons. But at what cost? It murders the topsoil, mutilates the genetic biodiversity, and kills off birds, bees, and beneficial insects. We end up with weaker ecosystems, fewer farmers, less options in the store.
So instead of a game that implies the best thing farmers can do is imitate the dying breed of industrial farmers, why not create a game that rediscovers the way that people worked the land around the world in sustainable ways. How is it that the Chinampas and Milpas of Mexico were continuously cultivated for thousands of years with a diverse group of plants and never lost fertility? How were the Inca and Q'ero and Wari and Tiwanaku cultures able to feed more people with more variety of food 500 to 1000 years ago ON THE SAME LAND where they struggle to eke an existence out today with modern agricultural methods? How do rice paddies in China and Japan use closed loop, indigenous technology to stay productive year after year, century after century...?
What traditional crops are in danger of being lost as generations cut off from their ancestral wisdom opt to play the losing, insulting game of "3rd World Farmer", either in real life, or online?
We need a game that provides a real way to win, not just for the players, but for farmers worldwide.
This game needs to change in two basic ways(maybe more)
1. Take into account the Ecological losses from using "industrial" techniques, like the condition of the top soil and associate something negative to it. Karma points maybe? Or lower the yield by a percentage. Whatever, just make them suffer.
2. Create a balance between buying new equipment and uncovering indigenous farming techniques for the crops chosen(Which can be done in many ways).
I haven't played the game, I am just guessing that this will make the game so much better ^_^
Another sad part of the game is that you almost have to grow opium to keep your family alive and then get bombed by the US. But its ok, you can always just marry off your daughter to replace the son that died in the blast...
What a stupid game, I was imagining something much better
I agree it has no means for us to imagine solutions
And family members are just treated like another resource
All the same, for a class of 16-yr olds who have never had a job or needed to bduget, it's a good starting point in a 1-2 hour class. It's fine to criticise it, but what is the alternative? Back to crappy text books written by professors of linguistics in western countries who have never needed to try and motivate someone from a very different culture to become proficient in a language they hate?
I should have clarified that I use it to teach language, not economics or social innovation.