3rd World Farmer


1. Game Description and Overview

The game 3rd world farmer is a game that allows the user to play as a farming family is a developing country. It's a simulation and strategy game where the player must handle the hardships of their location and raise their family, plant crops, and make money. During each term the player chooses how to spend their money for the year. In the beginning on the game the player starts with $50.00. The player can invent in crops, livestock, tools, and structures. Sometimes the investment will yield a return, other times depending on the disaster that occurs (such as drought) the family loses money. The goal of the game is to learn the challenges that farmers deal with in developing countries. The farmers deal with civil war, health problems, and droughts during each calendar year. The game ends when the player is able to buy all six of the social services: crop insurance, schools, clinics, roads, communications, and representative. The object of the game was to succeed. I failed several times and my entire family died within 10 to 13 turns.

2. Type of Learning Involved

This game teaches the player how difficult it is to succeed as a farming family in developing countries. So many events occur like drought or war that prevent the player from succeeding. Players learn that even when the weather is good, events like war, theft, and disease can prevent the player from a profit and results in family members dying because there isn't enough resources to go around.

3. Teaching

Initially, the instructions aren't entirely clear when playing the game, but the game was simple to learn how to play. The player clicks on items they would like to buy and they click the play button on the upper right hand corner to start the new year. The game keeps the player engaged because they don't know if they will succeed that year or go broke. Sometimes crops bring in more money, other times drought or war can end the game. I think that 3rd world farmer uses Gee's learning principle "psychosocial moratorium principle"- learners can take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered. Because the game is played in the virtual world the player doesn't have to deal with the repercussions of a poor decision. In the game if the player chooses not to educate their children or give them medicine, the children in the game will die. This is obviously not a risk someone would take in real life, but they can see the consequences of those actions in the game.

4. Reflection

Playing the game was the point of learning. It's clear that so much of what happens to people in developing countries relates to chance, and even when you have made the best plans for success, events that are out of your control can lead to disaster. In a class or lesson that is focused on poverty in the developing, this game would help students gain a better understanding of the hardships and choices families face in the developing world.