Few serious training video games have been developed specifically to meet the needs of international development practitioners. Those made so far have been extremely costly. GRID is a social entrepreneurship venture. We have developed a framework to leverage the diverse skills of students, the insight of industry-leader mentors, and the in-depth knowledge of international development clients to create serious training games at a fraction of the traditional cost. Key innovations of the model include:
Demand-Driven games: GRID has a strategy of developing unique customized games for development agencies. By tapping our networks and with facilitation from our mentors, we identify challenges that can be simulated using interactive games and involve the agencies in the creation of relevant games.
Student Involvement in game development process: We tap the often-overlooked potential of students from the fields of Computer Sciences and International Affairs for game development and provide the incentive of enhanced CV value through internships/senior projects. This has three key benefits:
- Low cost of game development and value addition for students: Computer science students are always looking for engaging, meaningful projects for their capstones, and GRID provides them with exactly that kind of projects, along with mentorship and networking opportunities. This drives down the cost of game development and provides sustainable mechanisms for introducing games that can simulate development challenges.
- Capacity building of students: By engaging students who are aspiring to become development practitioners in the process of game development, we introduce a unique learning opportunity for students to interact with the client and understand the challenges that they face.
- Wide range of Skills: The GRID team, as well as its panel of mentors, consists of individuals from different backgrounds and with a unique area of value-addition each.
Quality Assurance: GRID realizes that student involvement may be perceived as a cause for a drop in quality and we have therefore developed quality assurance mechanisms within the core framework. Game development is supervised by a group of mentors that consists of programming and international development experts from World Bank, Google and Elliott School. These mentors not only facilitate the process of identifying demand but also provide extensive guidance for high quality games. Furthermore, through intensive client involvement in the game development process, we are able to draw on the wisdom of established development practitioners by pulling their knowledge into game form and ensuring we deliver relevant, meaningful games.
The team commits to developing 3 low-cost video games in one year to be introduced as online courses/workshop sessions for development practitioners. Based on pilot estimates (details below), each game is played by at least 150 individuals (average number of WB workshop participants) and with conservative estimates of one project per development practitioner and 1000 beneficiaries per project, the games will improve implementation of an estimated 450 development projects and impact at least 450,000 beneficiaries around the world. As global citizens, this is team GRID’s contribution to the journey towards ending poverty, their “Game” Plan 2030.