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World Bank Institute Launches New Online Game 'Evoke,' a Crash Course in Changing the World

WASHINGTON, DC, February 1, 2010 -- There's an old African proverb: "If you have a problem, and you can't solve it alone, evoke it." Gamers around the world will do just that when the World Bank Institute launches its new online massively multiplayer game, EVOKE -- dubbed "a crash course in changing the world." 

EVOKE is designed to empower young people all over the world, and especially in Africa, to start solving urgent social problems like hunger, poverty, disease, conflict, climate change, sustainable energy, health care, education, and human rights.

"An evoke is an urgent call to innovation," says the game's creative director,  alternate reality pioneer Jane McGonigal, who is debuting the game at this month's TED conference in Long Beach, California. "When we evoke, we look for creative solutions. We use whatever resources we have. We get as many people involved as possible. We take risks. We come up with ideas that have never been tried before. That's what we're asking players to do in this online game. To learn how to tackle the world's toughest problems with creativity, courage, resourcefulness and collaboration."

Players will be challenged to complete a series of ten missions and ten quests -- one per week, over the course of the ten-week game. "Education in the knowledge age demands a new skills set, and by completing these missions and quests, players will learn the 21st century skills to become the social innovators that shape the future," says Robert Hawkins, a Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank Institute, and Executive Producer for the game. 

The "text book" for this course is an online graphic novel written by Emmy-award nominated producer Kiyash Monsef. Art for the graphic novel is by Jacob Glaser, who Monsef describes as "an extraordinary visual storyteller who has been working at the leading edge of the comic world doing motion comics for Stan Lee."

Set in the year 2020, the story follows the efforts of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, as players unravel the mystery of the Evoke network, they will form their own innovation networks: brainstorming creative solutions to real-world development challenges, learning more about what it takes to be a successful social innovator, and finding ways to make a difference in the world. 

Monsef says: "There are so many graphic novels that tell stories about superhero networks who save the world: X-Men, Global Frequency, Fantastic Four. Our graphic novel doesn't just tell a story. It actually creates a real superhero network. Our players aren't just reading about the EVOKE network. They're actually bringing it to life."
"This an alternate reality game," says McGonigal. "It combines online storytelling with real-world problem-solving. So it naturally blurs the line a bit between reality and legend. In fact: It's not really an African proverb 'If you have a problem, and you can't solve it alone, evoke it.' But we're hoping that our players will help make it a real saying in Africa, and around the world."
"Not only are players learning real world skills -- they're also earning real-world honors and rewards," says Executive Producer Robert Hawkins. "Players who successfully complete ten online missions in ten weeks will be able to receive a special distinction: World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010

Top players will also earn mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world, and scholarships to share their vision for the future at the EVOKE Summit in Washington DC. 

"The demand is so great for a game like this," Hawkins says.  "The project began as a response to African universities' desire to engage students in real world problems and to develop capacities for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial action that will be the engine for job creation now and in the future."  

The EVOKE online game platform was developed by Natron Baxter Applied Gaming.  "You don't need virtual worlds when you game reality," said Nathan Verrill, the founder of Natron Baxter and the technology lead for EVOKE. Verrill and his start-up company specializes in developing software that motivates real-world change.The rest of the live game running team -- consisting of ten "game masters", mentors and community moderators -- spans six countries on four continents: the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Uganda, and South Africa. 

"In the world of the EVOKE graphic novel, the people who are most prepared for the problems of the future are the ones who are grappling with them today," says EVOKE story director Kiyash Monsef. "And that's exactly what our players are doing by participating in this game. They're preparing for the future."

  • EVOKE is a crash course in changing the world

  • The game is free to play and open to anyone, anywhere.

  • The game begins on March 3, 2010 and runs for 10 weeks

  • Players can reserve a spot in the game now by registering at

  • Developed by the World Bank Institute, the learning arm of the World Bank (more about the WBI at, and sponsored by InfoDev ( and Korean Trust Fund

  • Directed by Jane McGonigal, award-winning alternate reality game director (more about McGonigal at

  • Developed by Natron Baxter Applied Gaming (more about Natron Baxter at

If you'd like more information about the game, or to schedule an interview with ROBERT HAWKINS (Executive Producer), JANE MCGONIGAL (Creative Director) or KIYASH MONSEF (Story Director), please email