3rd World Farmer is a new kind of game. An experiment in the genre of Serious Games, it simulates some of the real-world mechanisms that cause and sustain poverty in 3rd World countries.
In the game, the player gets to manage an African farm and is soon confronted with the difficult choices that poverty and conflict can cause.
As a farm and family management game it has an emotional impact on many players because usually these types of games play out in much easier settings, where it’s always possible to prosper by playing cleverly and making the right game choices. It’s not always like that in 3rd World Farmer. Just like real people are dying from starvation in desperate situations that they never asked to be put in, all it takes for things to go wrong in this game is one bad harvest, an unfortunate encounter with corrupt officials, a raid by guerillas, a civil war, a sudden fluctuation in market prices, or any of the many other game events, that might never happen to families in industrialized countries.
By letting players experience this – albeit in a harmless, fictional setting – we hope to open their eyes to the problems and to motivate them to make positive social change. Our aim is to have everybody play the game, reflect, discuss and act on it. The game is a great starting point for discussions of 3rd World issues, so we encourage teachers to use it in class.
Although the current version of the game is finished and fully playable, our work to improve it continues.
The first prototype of the game was developed as a students’ project at the IT-University in Copenhagen, Spring 2005. All initial participants were actively involved in shaping the original concept to a playable game. Actually, the very most of the game features have been discussed by the entire group until a fitting solution was agreed upon.
The positive evaluation and feedback from user testing inspired some of us to continue developing the game and to publish it online in new versions. Our work to shape the prototype into a fully playable game has involved meetings and correspondence with relief agencies and game industry professionals.
First prototype was developed by Frederik Hermund (original concept, written documentation, in-game text and photos), Ole Fabricius Toubro (lead game artist, concept development, graphics programming), Jakob Elias Nielsen (program design & structure, concept development), and Roman Spycher (programming, balancing, concept development.)
Second prototype was developed by Frederik and Ole (programming) and Benjamin Salqvist (artwork).
The release of November 23rd, 2006 was the result of extensive redesign based on feedback from people at our forums and elsewhere, managed and implemented by Frederik with some cool new graphics by Benjamin.
The release of November 2008 includes Spanish translation by Cristian Selman, implemented by Frederik.
Releases since then have been implemented and managed by Frederik with the help from our amazing volunteer translators: Cristian Selman (Spanish), Synthesis.it (Italian), Ulrich Tausend, Alexander Forestier, and Jan “dkh” Simon (German), Martin Truhelka (Czech), Marco Bertolini, Yasmine Kasbi, and Simon Bachelier (French), Ricardo Pereira Filho and Rodrigo Dias (Brazilian Portuguese), and Adam Steer (Hungarian).
Latest release is from 2014 and features many small updates including a new highscore system, implemented by Frederik.
If you’re interested in helping us translate 3rd World Farmer into your own native language, feel free to contact us.