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Third World Farmer

Written by Linda Biondi
August 28, 2010

Third World Farmer is a serious game that simulates the life of a poor African farmer. It is an excellent vehicle for teachers to use as a starting point to discuss Third World countries and the issues that they face. The game begins with a farmer and his family of four. The farmer possesses a hut, land, and fifty dollars. The goal of the farmer is learning how to survive each year by making the “correct” decisions such as whether to purchase crops, animals, buildings, giving your children an education or getting medical care.  Disasters strike and crimes occur, keeping him from getting ahead, much less becoming successful.

The game seems to perpetuate the fact that there isn’t any hope for the farmer. When he thinks he is getting ahead, disaster in the form of Guerrilla attacks, bank or crop failures, and diseases strike.  Moral decisions and sacrifices have to be made. Educate the family or get medical care?  It may seem melodramatic, rigged for failure but the quote at the end of the game sends a message to the player….: “Rules unfair? Game rigged? Think about the people to whom this isn’t a game, but everyday life.” The purpose to open the player’s (student’s) eyes to the hopelessness in third world countries and to “Do Something!”  

This game is fairly easy to play. However, students who are used to games with more action and less words and diagrams might become bored or distracted. Background knowledge about the situations in the Third World Countries needs to be provided, as well as follow-up activities.  Students should be left with the thought of what they can do and how to make a difference.

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