John Thompson, Senior Research Fellow, Rural Futures Cluster; Institute of Development Studies
James Jackson, Designer/Developer; African Farmer Project
About the seminar
The African Farmer Game (www.africanfarmergame.org) is a computer-based simulation designed to give players the experience of living as a small farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they must make complex decisions about their domestic and agricultural practices, household nutrition, and marketing and related livelihood activities in an uncertain and risk-prone environment.
In this webinar, we will present the latest release of the single-player version of African Farmer. We will start by briefly reviewing some key characteristics of simulation games and give an account of earlier simulations from the 1980s and 90s which inspired and informed the design of the current game. We will then describe the main learning objectives behind African Farmer and the different strategies that players may pursue to achieve various goals to improve their farm’s productivity and their household’s well-being.
In walking through the key elements of the new single-player version – including its nutritional components – we will demonstrate how the design of African Farmer has been shaped by the specified learning objectives. We will discuss the importance of thorough debriefing in order to promote critical reflection and enhance learning among players at the end of the game.
We will also offer some thoughts on how the African Farmer game design might be modified to shift the emphasis to food and nutrition and how related technologies might play a useful role within a broader strategy of training and awareness-raising to promote social and behaviour change for improved health.
We will conclude with our reflections on how the game has been received thus far and outline our plans for the future. Webinar participants are invited to download and try out the latest version of the single-player game at www.africanfarmergame.org/coregroup.