CORE Group Webinar


Date and Time

Date: Wednesday, June 22nd 2016.
Time: 11:00 a.m. EDT / 4:00 p.m. BST.

Presentation Overview

The African Farmer Game is a computer-based simulation designed to give players the experience of living as a small farmer in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they must make complex decisions about their domestic and agricultural practices, household nutrition, and marketing and related livelihood activities in an uncertain and risk-prone environment.

In this webinar we will present the latest release of the single-player version of African Farmer. We will start by briefly reviewing some key characteristics of simulation games and give an account of earlier simulations from the 1980s and 90s which inspired and informed the design of the current game. We will then describe the main learning objectives behind African Farmer and the different strategies that players may pursue to achieve various goals to improve their farm’s productivity and their household’s well-being.

In walking through the key elements of the new single-player version – including its nutritional components – we will demonstrate how the design of African Farmer has been shaped by the specified learning objectives. We will discuss the importance of thorough debriefing in order to promote critical reflection and enhance learning among players at the end of the game.

We will also offer some thoughts on how the African Farmer game design might be modified to shift the emphasis to food and nutrition and how related technologies might play a useful role within a broader strategy of training and awareness-raising to promote social and behaviour change for improved health.
We will conclude with our reflections on how the game has been received thus far and outline our plans for the future.

Webinar participants are invited to download and try out the latest version of the single-player game by following the instructions at the bottom of this page.


John Thompson has a 30-year record of academic and applied research on the social, technological and environmental dimensions of agri-food systems and natural resource management in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Currently, he serves as a Senior Research Fellow in the Rural Futures Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies – IDS (, UK, where his work focuses on assessing the dynamics of agrarian change and the governance of science, technology and innovation for sustainable development. He holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, USA, and has held doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University and the United Nations. Previously, he worked as Director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Programme at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, and Director of Research and Development of Just Food, New York City. Currently, he serves as Coordinator of the Future Agricultures Consortium (, an international research network working on the political economy of agricultural policy in Africa. He also serves as Food and Agriculture Domain Convenor of the STEPS Centre, a global research and engagement hub examining ‘pathways to sustainability’. In addition, he is an academic supervisor and lecturer with broad experience in post-graduate teaching and training. Since 2010 he has been collaborating with colleagues at the University of Sussex to develop the African Farmer Game, a computer simulation of small farmer decision-making under uncertainty, and more recently, has begun working with partners in The Netherlands and Africa to create The Groundwater Game, a multi-player game on improving groundwater management through cooperation and collective action.

James Jackson is an IT professional with a keen interest in how technology can be harnessed to support learning and personal development. After graduating in Electronic Engineering, he joined a Christian religious order where he worked on a variety of social projects. Along the way he completed a BA in Philosophy in London and received training in counselling and groupwork. After leaving the religious order, for eight years he was employed as IT Manager by a fast-growing engineering software developer where he was responsible for IT infrastructure, code porting & optimisation and client systems support. He then took up the position of Chief Information Officer at a Lloyd’s insurance broker and remained in post for four years before resigning to study for a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and Personal Development at the University of Sussex. After completing these studies he worked in the University’s Department of Informatics ( as a Visiting Research Fellow, providing infrastructure development and technical facilitation for a teaching and learning research project. Since late 2010 he has worked as a designer and developer on the African Farmer project, which has produced multi-player and single player versions of an educational simulation game.

Presentation Slides

Game Installation

The single player game can be played on any computer with the latest version of Adobe AIR installed. This can be downloaded from the Adobe website. When Adobe AIR is installed, download and install the game:

The video tutorials can also be viewed online if the Game Only installation is selected.


Single Player Guide (3.5 MB): a comprehensive guide for players covering the user interface, game flow, game features and options.
Getting Started (1 MB): a 4-page printable overview of the main screens, game flow, tasks and game options.
Educator Guide (1 MB): an introduction to the game for educators which includes guidance on running a game workshop.
Video Tutorials: a series of short videos introducing key aspects of the game.
Release Notes (0.5 MB): a list of the changes and bug fixes introduced with this release.