The World Bank Institute, the learning arm of the World Bank, has launched an online computer game called EVOKE, designed to get young people involved in finding solutions to urgent problems like hunger, poverty and education. The winners of the 10-week game could be mentored by social innovators and business leaders and win a trip to a conference in Washington D.C.
It is a computer game with worldwide implications - a crash course in changing the world and an urgent call for innovation.
Each week until the middle of May, players are presented with a different world problem that needs to be resolved. Bob Hawkins, at the World Bank Institute in Washington, produced the game.
"The entire game revolves around this graphic novel, this comic book which occur 10 years into the future," Hawkins explained.
The game's story follows a mysterious network of Africa's best problem-solvers. Participants can play alone or in groups, interacting with other players. They brainstorm solutions to problems like world hunger, poverty, health and education.
"The game encourages young people to think about what the challenges are and what they might do individually and collaboratively to address these challenges," he said.
The game was originally designed for university students in Africa. But in the first few days, 8,000 players from around the world -- most from the United States -- signed on.
Hawkins recognizes that of all Africans, only one percent makes it to university and that Internet access is not widespread in some regions.
"We have designed the game so that it is compatible with Opera Mini which is a browser that you can use on your cell phones," he said. "We mirror the content into Facebook which is a very popular application for students and young people on their mobile phone."
By the end of the game, the top players will be mentored by business leaders and also win a trip to a conference next year in Washington.
This could be the first in a series of games, ferreting out the innovators of the future.