GRID aims to design educational video games for development practitioners and students, facilitating better design and implementation of development policy decisions. Our solutions offer a complementary simulation learning method to more formal education/training. GRID’s target market encompasses the international development community, which includes multilateral institutions such as the World Bank; bilateral institutions such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); universities with international development type programs; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations focusing on international development – both in developed countries (such as Save the Children) or locally in developing countries.
GRID has come across plenty of evidence for strong demand and interest in the product. As previously mentioned, GRID is currently creating a game for the World Bank through their Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF). Through this interaction GRID team members have witnessed the excitement and interest that the idea has generated, not only within the WB circles but also beyond it. The demand for these games is evident in World Bank’s willingness to collaborate on our pilot project, and through the interviews that team GRID has conducted.
Dr. Sean Roberts, Director of the International Development Program at George Washington University, is serving as one of the GRID mentors. Based on his numerous years of experience in the field of international development, he sees extreme potential for the use of video games. He feels that the customization of the games to each organization makes the venture very attractive to potential clients. His ideas for possible uses of the games range from capacity building of small NGOs in the developing world to security training simulations to procurement management and overall monitoring and evaluation of development projects.
Emily Varga, a program manager at NCBA CLUSA which is a nonprofit organization engaged in international development work, was also very intrigued by the idea of using video games to give extra training to individuals. She thought the impact-evaluation game we are currently working on could be useful for a number of organizations. She also was very confident that a game focused on training of trainers was something that her organization could use on almost all of their projects. She further mentioned a scenario game focused on working with volunteers and volunteer management could be useful for her organization as well as many other nonprofits as much of their workforce is often made up of volunteers.
In terms of similar initiatives, the World Bank created one of the few games targeting the international development community, known as EVOKE. It was designed to empower young people all over the world to start solving urgent social problems like hunger, poverty, disease, conflict, climate change, human rights, etc. by connecting young people to create innovative solutions. Similarly, the Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT developed a game that focused on Computer Associated Learning (CAL) to supplement live teaching of children in India. Another, created through the Serious Game Initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars known as Budget Hero, was used to understand the United States citizens’ feelings about where the federal budget should be allocated concerning things like the new Affordable Care Act and defense spending.