EVOKE is a game commissioned by the World Bank, an international financial institution widely criticised for its practise of using crippling debt to force impose its socially and economically destructive policies on the Third World. EVOKE challenges players to become “social innovators” and devise solutions to the world’s social and environmental problems.
As game-playing social innovators, we gladly accept this challenge. And after extensive research and development we are proud to present: INVOKE.
Our game INVOKES the guise of progressive social activism and community organising to promote pro-capitalist ideology. It’s implicit message is that the problems of the world – including hunger, poverty, environmental destruction, injustice and disease – can and must be solved within the logic of the free market system.
INVOKE lasts for ten weeks, and every week they post a new mission to the players — to be executed in the real world. The first mission is to devise and post ideas on how the World Bank should whitewash its public image. I find this hilarious: “All of your ideas are valid, except any solution that suggests that the World Bank make online propaganda in the form of a game. They already did that – it’s called EVOKE!” They even rewrote the EVOKE comic, except for page 5 which apparently was good enough as is for the purposes of INVOKE.
I don’t know what’s the lesson for ARG designer, for company with a bad public image, or for pervasive games researcher. I remember hearing complaints on The Lost Ring based on the fact that it was financed by McDonalds and collaborated somehow with Beijing Olympic Games. Similarly I remember Vanishing Point being criticized for being a Microsoft Vista promotion. When you mobilize the grassroots, you should prepare to face criticisms such as this one.
PS. INVOKE is apparently created by Christian McCrea and Katharine Neil.
Thank you Matthijs!