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EVOKE was developed by the World Bank Institute, the learning and knowledge arm of the World Bank Group, and directed by alternate reality game master Jane McGonigal.

Investigate Episode 1: Social Innovation

Posted by Alchemy on 28 Jan under Investigation Files

Get the facts behind the story. Make yourself an expert. Discover the thirteen secrets of episode one…

Keep the investigation going…

Did you spot other clues about the future in episode one? Post them here!
And share what you know: Add more links, and ask and answer questions, in the comments below.

55 Responses to “Investigate Episode 1: Social Innovation”

  1. Nathaniel (redct0

    Comments about Episode One…

    • While I doubt you can best Alchemy, you can still do “try it at home” 3D head tracking—http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/.
    • Oranges: possibly chosen because of Tokyo’s climate (60-85ºF, ideal for citrus)

  2. Game Retail Store » Evoke ARG Looks To Change The World

    [...] the first week, for example, Evoke will present Episode 1: Social Innovation, a scenario in which Tokyo suffers a major famine ten years from now. As part of the game, players [...]

  3. Yemisi

    I loved episode one. Wow the Food Crisis in Japan is really gonna get worse. I love this innovation, Is that how it really works to keep 50% of profit? I was wondering if this is because aid is being given to Japan, a developed nation known for its affluence. I mean if this episode was talking about for e.g aid to mango farmers in Mali, a poverty-stricken nation, alchemy wouldn’t be keeping profits right? I can’t wait for other episodes to discuss in great details. and ofcourse for March 3.

    Btw I have been waiting for an administrator to approve my membership request . Please I hope it’s done asap so I can go through the website thoroughly. I’m excited to share this with every one I know…

  4. Gustavo

    One of the mass migration causes will be the coastal flooding. If you live in a coastal city and want to see the results of a huge future flooding, try this simulator:


  5. Gustavo

    And yes, it seems that the goal is to create “roof gardens”, planting “Citrus Sinensis” (http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_%C3%97_sinensis). Also, they are using the CubeSat to gather information prior to plant this.

  6. miaC

    One Tokyo poster has the stamp “Evoke #001285″ although I’m not sure what the number signifies.

  7. Andrew A. Sailer

    Wow, excellent post! I am intrigued.

  8. Matthew Reinbold

    Last page shows an evoke nano-cube satellite over Japan. The alchemist and evoke (evoked?) network seems to rely on conventional cellphones for communication/coordination. What else could the alchemist need a satellite for? Surveillance? Taking thermal measurements for problem hot spots?

  9. Japanese Kimonos

    Nice keep up the good work. where can we subscribe to the site

  10. Drew Marshall

    The ongoing urbanization of Japan, by which the built environment is sacrificing arable land (arable land: 13%
    permanent crops: 1%), makes it a prime target for many climate issues.

    The cube sat technology should be able to help better identify areas for food production that account for what will be quite dynamic local climate and weather conditions.

    Tokyo, already a heat sink (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_heat_island) due to the minimization of green spaces, is also going to be supporting an increasingly aged population as Japan’s total population goes into general decline. See:

    That population will have not only food security issues but also health issues resulting from poor nutrition compounded by geriatric diseases. The elderly are at increased risk for poor nutrition due to age-related physiological and psychosocial changes, as well as the added toll of chronic disease. All of these may have a negative impact on adequate food intake. Addressing issues of food security will also have to take into account issues of this population’s mobility, too.

    The great thing about what is proposed – teaching self-sufficiency instead of providing direct free food aid is that it creates a robust local economic outcome. Free food aid causes havoc in domestic economies often bankrupting local producers. See:

  11. Yemisi

    @ Mathew, I think the satellite is needed to aid Evoke in getting constant global coverage at different resolutions and just like you mentioned for the much needed surveillance and to monitor those parts of the world that need to be “evoked” urgently….In a nut shell the satellite is mandatory for Alchemy to be on top of everything…a cellphone would be hardly enough for that to occur. (Governor: When does your team arrive?; Alchemy: we don’t waste time, my team is already there)….

    Also see Gustavo’s comment above, which is on point….hope this was helpuful..

  12. Mita

    Hmm. Maybe #001285 is a colour?

    But then, what’s a nice shade of blue supposed to mean?

  13. Robert

    I think that while roof gardens would be a great idea, but if Tokio implemented skyscraper farms, with oranges like Nathaniel sugessted, they could become more self sufficient. It could also help with the heat crisis.

  14. Matt

    I’m interested to see how the game will actually play…

  15. Jonathan

    A clue I found on page 5 on the second panel. The article on his tablet is titled “Pacific Fisheries All Time Low” and I can’t really make out the rest of the title. I assume this means fish farms but I might be wrong.

  16. Sphaso

    @miaC: 001285 is the evoke number Alchemy assigns to Tokyo’s evoke request (see pg 6 of 7)

  17. David

    @miaC the “#001285″ is probably a sort of mission number used to track evokes.

  18. Wintermute

    Did anyone else notice the Great Wave in the background of one of the early panels. Japan is indeed now facing a great wave and I guess it’s up to us to fix it. Can’t wait until March 3rd.

  19. Raidan

    1. Alchemy wants to remain anonymous but he is African uses an Africa mask for an avatar and speaks in an identifiable accent!
    2. Ember works in “the most prestigious university in West Africa” and seems to be a professor in social science. When Alchemy activates her, Arabic writing is seen on her screen profile.
    3. Ember was previously informed of the crisis in Japan by an underground organization called Citizen X.
    4. The female engineer from a “multicultural” and “romantic” area of Cape Town isn’t named.
    5. The Evoke case number for Japan is 001285, which is likely the number of crises they’ve handled.
    6. The Evoke team uses a miniature satellite called a CubeSat to communicate clandestinely as well as to detect arable areas in dense cities.
    7. Greenhouses are built to protect from torrential rain.
    8. The team is successfully growing rooftop gardens, such as the one in the fashionable district of Harajuku.
    9. Quinn has grown oranges that are native to Southeast Asia in a park.

    Longer essay: http://thebeastuncaged.blogspot.com/

  20. Mikial

    This is quite interesting. Great deductions from everyone. I can’t seem to find more than what you have all found. I will continue to look though. Still curious how this all plays out.

  21. Khaos Farbauti Ibn Oblivion

    I didn’t find anything as cool as the african mask of Alchemy, but it seems that Gizmoz.com provides a way to make 3D talking avatar.
    Still seeking some cooler tool.

  22. John D. Boyden

    The analysis here is useful. Raiden has done a particularly nice job. There is a hint of episode 4 on the video, if I saw that correctly at 1:20 it appears illness, perhaps plague may be the issue.

  23. Transcendence

    I noticed one of the rooftop gardens spells out Evoke. So someone has already made an outcry, which obviously could be seen with the CubeSat.

    I, also, eagerly await March 3. (peering in the darkened window, fingers tapping the glass… “open, open, open…”)

  24. eric b

    some links I just found:

    About Ember:
    A story that takes place in a city that’s running out of power and supplies…

    Someone mentionned something about a wave. In panel1, the painting in the background is from Hokusai (The Great Wave at Kanagawa) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa

    There are some japanese writing in sevral panel… anyone can translate?

  25. Mario

    The Governor’s asistant said something about the solution to the maze problem in Lagos, another city in Africa. http://www.fanrpan.org/news/4882 there is something about maize production in Lagos

    Ember teach Logistics in the Universiy of Ghana. Or at least thats the title of the book on her desk.

    The other female agent seems to be an engineer with a lot of tools (in the window you can read “Evoke– it could be anyone”)

    One of the notes on the Ipad of the male agent refers to a shortage of the yellow tail tuna and there is a drawing on the government’s memo (looks like letters C, P and X)

  26. Robert B. Lewis

    Whats the small cube-shaped satellite watching over Tokyo? Its looking at the soil!




  27. Robert B. Lewis

    How could someone lauch there own cube-satellite.

    The satellite could be built just about anywhere at cost. I would have the cube satellite built in a country where labor cost are low. I would have the ESA launch the bird out of Africa. Having the satellite built and lauched in a first world country would be to expensive.

  28. Robert B. Lewis


  29. Robert B. Lewis

    What happened to the honey bees? CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder.


  30. Henry Fordham

    Exceptional, I passed this on to a crony of mine, and he actually bought me lunch because I found this for him, so let me rephrase: Thanks for lunch.

  31. Nathan Eckenrode

    I find it very interesting that the United Nations has a paper called Using ICT for Quality Teaching, Learning and Effective Management [pdf]. This paper is referenced by the number 001285 which is also the Evoke case number for the Tokyo event. It may only be a coincidence that this paper has several examples in the way that ICT and other networking technologies can and will be used in these specific type cases in the near present and future.

  32. Alchemy

    Your eye for detail is commendable. Good work drawing this paper to your fellow EVOKE agents’ attention.

  33. Jofga

    Actually, elements of the dialogue remind me of Naomi Klein’s “Disaster Capitalism”

  34. Alishia

    The case number 001285 also lends to the thought that Alchemy plans on there being many projects to begin leading into the hunderds of thousands. These projects most likely will be undertaken similationsly throughout the globe

  35. Andrew D

    Can the larger amount of us agree that the processes & conclusions of Evoke aren’t meant for us to point fingers & social , cultural problems & issues, but rather agreeable factual theories that are as viable as Evoke allows it to be? I appreciate what were looking at because it provides excellent insight into a more focused approach towards solving these problems. It seems like a great game format & hopefully these theorized bridges can come to fruition.

  36. Andrew D

    The free mind is made up of free thoughts

    ideas of crop switching definitely would make up for deficits in upcoming spans of “decreased yield” but also security of remaining rice stocks & storage would prevent further crisis from “multiplying”. Patterns during times of emergency have proven to have multiple chains of effect. beyond looking at what happens from the rice shortage, we have to look at events leading up to it, and following events that are just as possible as the situation it self.

  37. Andrew De Leon

    Economically, in the event of shortages, we also see a significant rise in prices of the actual stock. Theory being decrease its demand.
    Has the shortage become a demanding issue? have owners of rice producers & investors already switched towards a more profitable, secure product?
    Is the mayor asking from a consumer stand point, as much as we are?
    Hopefully my questions are presented as well as others would ask them.

  38. Marko

    I love it when the guy at happiness honey collective uses a tablet in the middle of nowhere and a cell phone and then a helicopters comes right away to pick him up, it means in the future we will be reachable immediately anytime anywhere much more than we are now and will be able to get anywhere much faster, but how did tokyo send out an evoke thats not explained :(

  39. Daniel

    Characters Mentioned in Order of Appearance (Subject to change):

    Japanese Male, Name: Mr. Governor Expertise: Politics Location: Tokyo, Japan

    Japanese Female, Name: Unknown Expertise: Secretary Location: Tokyo, Japan

    Black Male,Name:Unknown Expertise:Unknown Location:Dakar,Senegal

    Black Female, Name:Ember Expertise:Teaching as far as we know Location: University of Legon, Ghana

    Indian Descent Female, Name:Unknown Expertise:Hardware From: Bo-Kaap Township, Capetown

    White Male, Name:Unknown Expertise: Bees Location:The Great Rift Valley, Kenya

  40. Dilyan

    @Yemisi I think Alchemy is keeping a cut of the profits because this is what they do. They are professionals in their field and professionalism comes at a cost. It has nothing to do with how wealthy or poor a country is.

    (Btw, Japan cannot be rich AND food-insecure in the same time, can it? This seems a bit odd. What does everyone else think?)

    I reckon the model whereby governments pay private entrepreneurs to solve social problems is the one to go for in the future. It has proven its worth on numerous occasions where social services have been privatised and become better for it, though I don’t think it has been used to tackle such grave issues and on such a scale.

  41. Lynneth

    [LEARN 1]

    I’ve learnt that the food crisis is in part caused by the fact that Japanese are subsituting a large portion of their diet to accomodate WESTERNIZED diets.

    I’ve also learnt, from following links, that culturally in Afica, a status symbol is a Mercedes Benz, because it is the epitome of being Westernised. This symbol is at the expense of their wives and children.

    Firstly, my immediate response to this is – be careful what you wish for – I say this because imperialists and westerncentric ideas want to offer non-westerners western cultural freedom, and educate them into the structures that work in our own society. Then, rather than adopt the boring parts of western cultures, non-westerners have chosen to adopt the food culture and materialsm….

    therefore, perhaps I’ve come to an early conclusion that non-western societies might benefit from learning about the REAL way in which we experience the world – the low-down grotty apathy and work-slavery and lack of life enjoyment…then perhaps they wouldn’t want it so much,

    and THEN come up with ways of not matching westernised society, but bettering their OWN by creating a system that westerners are jealous of….

  42. Jeff McNeill

    Food Security

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Special programme for Food Security
    Wikipedia article on Food Security
    World Health Organization Glossary entry on Food Security

  43. nicolai

    just publish some resources in my evoke blog just to speed up some googleing

  44. Laura Dawson

    [LEARN 1]
    Permalink Reply by Laura Dawson 22 hours ago
    http://www.fews.net/Pages/default.aspx?l=en (USDA Famine Emergency Warning Site)
    http://www.fao.org/economic/en/ (Food and Agriculture Organization)
    http://www.who.int/foodsafety/consumer/5keys/en/index1.html (World Health Organization-food safety)
    http://www.thespiritoffood.com/ (The Spirit of Food – education site for Food Physics & Body Dynamics)
    http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/current.jsp?lang=en (Codex Alimentarius Global Food Standards)

    In Episode 1, page 1, the matter of global famine is brought up, however an even greater concern has erupted. Who can be evoked? How do we evoke them? As with any problem, it must be defined first, then with a larger view the tools for solutions become visible.

    During an application project, in which USAID had requested a document detailing how I would address their higher than average, Under 5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). Keep in mind that I am trained in both traditional medicines and nutritional education. My own view of the problem and solution will have its own unique model.

    The impact of food on health is profound. That is why the three websites above address this matter from the biggest picture, the USDA FEWS (Famine Emergency Warning Site Network) was my first choice. I wanted to know what foods were available and sustainable.

    The next site you will see above is the FAO (Food and Agriculture Foundation) working on the economic and social aspect of food, this is called nutrition. Nutrition means what foods can be converted to usable energy in the human condition.

    I then looked at the largest health organization’s view on the matter, the World Health Organization’s pages on food safety, where one of the primary factors in nutrition absorption is addressed; the handling and preparation of foods in all climates, households, and food packaging/production.

    Noticing the impact of nutrition on both short term health and well being as well as over the longer term of human existance the is much cause to focus on food. That is why it is important to learn about our unique needs for energy in the form of calories (the scientific measure of energy produced in and through the consumption of foods). The Spirit of Food (.com) site has been an ongoing, evolving area to address the most pressing matters of nutrition education and awareness that I believe will make an enormous impact on reducing the chronic disease of not only Nigeria, but the rest of the African Continent and beyond.

    I hope to continue to address these important matters further at the Codex Alimentarius Global Food Standards Committee – Food Additives (http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/current.jsp?lang=en) in Beijing, China later this March with the help of an unknow benefactor or sponsor. May I EVOKE that sponsor/benefactor here?

  45. Robert B. Lewis

    You cant lauch your own Cube satellite but these folks can build one for you.


    There is also an advertisement in The Economist (Feb 27-Mar 5) for looking for indivduals to work at EUMETSAT. I guess the birds are the polar orbiting MetOP satellites and Jason-2

  46. Luci Temple

    Any FACTS you find out, please post in the wiki



  47. cameron

    Satellite pulses increasing crop yield? Satellites could influence the formation of “brush discharge”, which turns nitrogen in the atmosphere into nitrate (fertilizer). Depending upon the capabilities of our cube satellite, is there reason to suppose an impact on crop yields?

    JA Burke is a soil scientist who has discovered that sacred sites like Avebury and the Great Giza pyramid were constructed at locations with ionized geological features. Apparently the electric charge generated at the sites could produce “Brush Discharge” which increased crop yields by 300% during times of population explosion. http://www.consciousmedianetwork.com/members/jburke.htm

    Satellites could perhaps generate the same electric effects in the atmosphere.

    Japan could use something like this in the event of a famine.

  48. Niraj Prasad Koirala

    This episode is very interesting.I think the facts behind the above questions are
    1) The total cultivable land in Japan is 15% of the total land area.Majority of land is used for industries.In this case Japan can not produce more food required to feed citizen.In that case Japan is sure to face food scarcity.
    2)Food security is the right of every people to have access food at any time and any place.This word is famous because there are millions of peoples in the world living in the darness of hunger.For example Oxfam warns Nepal to face heavy food crisis.www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/NSPR-7VBCYH?OpenDocument
    3)Online Avatar technology is used by Alchemy based on the head movement.
    5) I think the natural troubles caused by the climate change ,terrorism led by poverty causes mass migration from the devloping nations.
    6)It is a special culture in Japan.I think it is wore for representing the rainbow in the land as different clothes of different colours are used.
    7)Everyone in the world can send the news to the media.Especially in the countries where news papers are banned,citizen transfer the news from their countries to other nation.

  49. Carol Mase

    What stuns me is the publication dates of the information contained in the investigation…WE HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THESE ISSUES FOR YEARS AND HAVE NOT ACTED!!! What are we ignoring today about the future impact of our actions? Can we learn to act now and change the future outcome before it “surprises ” us?

  50. chris arkenberg

    Fascinating to think of Tokyo as a massive heat sink/emissions generator. Some 25 million or so people living in ~850 square miles sloping off the foothills of Mt. Fuji straight to the sea. Imagine all that concrete, asphalt, glass, cars, tains, and humanity all generating heat, drawing resources, and producing waste emissions. Mean temperature has increased in Tokyo by 3 degrees C over the past 100 years. Given Tokyo has only really been Tokyo-as-we-know-it for little over 50 years, it’s easy to sense the impact of such phenomenal growth. Japan went from essentially feudal to the 2nd largest economy in the world in that time. Yet, they rely on imports for the majority of their energy needs and, increasingly, for food.

  51. Fiacre O'Duinn

    Some items about Tokyo that may be of interest

    “TOKYO’S BIG CHANGE: THE 10-YEAR PLAN” (http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/PROFILE/policy03.htm)

    Tokyo Green Space (http://tokyogreenspace.com/)

    Articles on biodiversity in Tokyo (http://jaredresearch.com/workshops/articles.html)

  52. Lanchel

    Tokyo’s Heat island:

    With tokyo’s problem, Why don’t we surround sections of cities with water containing algaes? Not certain at what depth the water surrounding the sections will be but I’m sure it can be calculated. The only “real” spending will be with destroying and rebuilding certain areas of the city but the algaes are cheap.

  53. Daniel

    I saw in episode 1 the complete base of project evoke. Their job is to solve a crisis in the fastest amount of time, and they keep afloat by keeping 50 % of the profit, but yet in exchange give all the credit to the leader. This is very smart because if someone finds a problem and solves it, people will praise that person. So it is basically like paying for praise.

  54. Luigi

    i’ve been thinking about this!

    rice shortage in tokyo…
    1 month reserves left…

    and when you plant a rice! it will take you 3 long months for it to grow! is a call from evoke solve this..?

    and how come the governor doesn’t know that we exists while the secretary do?


  55. Abraham

    With the shortage, the planting of rice is not the most efficient crop, other crops, like corn, are much more efficient, but may not be suited to that climate. Also, the plan of having Evoke work in the background doesn’t coincide with the part about gaining some money from the plan.

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