Millennium Village Simulation Overview


The Millennium Village Simulation aims to give a taste of life in an African village living in extreme poverty.

Initially, players are given the role of a family of two in a small sub-Saharan African village. Players must decide how much time to spend on their farm, fishing, collecting fuel wood and water, or going to seek medical attention. They must also decide when to try and have children and whether to send those children to school. They will face the challenges of life at subsistence level: facing a drought and a subsequent failed crop; malaria outbreaks; a collapse of the fishery due to overfishing; deforestation; and high mortality rates. At the start of the Sim, player families will not be able to afford the investments that would improve their lives (fertilizer, improved seeds, and irrigation for better yields; malaria bednets to reduce transmission; school meals; latrines, etc.).

The game aims to give a feel of how difficult life is for villages in extreme poverty, and how solutions to problems are inherently interdisciplinary in nature. All of the systems are interacting; the socioeconomic dynamics of the villagers, the ecological models of the forest and the fishery, and the epidemic disease model governing the behavior of malaria in the game are all simultaneously running, and player will learn that getting out of poverty requires simultaneous investments in several areas, of which most are outside the financial reach of the villagers themselves.

Your experience ends when either the last member of your family dies or 50 years of Simulation time have passed. The simulation is separated into "turns," each lasting a single growing season, or six months. During each turn, you may make choices about your family's health, education, food, fuel, effort, and possessions. You may make similar choices on behalf of the village as a whole, many of which will affect your family directly. At the end of each turn, you will receive a "Seasonal Report" of your progress. This report will bring together and calculate the results of all new choices you made, but it will also incorporate weather, epidemics, market pricing and other conditional fluctuations. At some point, you may also be offered assistance from various NGO's for improving your village.

During each turn, financial and health choices marked allowing you to instantly enjoy and observe the effects of certain improvements. Other choices, such as crops you've planted, will not have any impact until the end of your turn, when final calculations are made.

In order to learn from mistakes and successes as well as to more deeply understand the models underlying the Simulation, players can view their game history and graph any quantitative state variables over time.

See the Player Quick Start Guide to learn how to start using the Simulation.

General Objectives

  • Keep your family alive

    • Make sure you have enough raw food to cook
    • Make sure you have enough cooking fuel to cook the raw food
    • Make sure you have enough water to drink
    • Attempt to prevent diseases from striking down your family members
  • Protect and improve village life

    • Invest in Village Improvements
    • Protect Natural Villages Resources such as the Fishery and Forest
  • Maintain Economic Stability and Spur Economic Growth

    • Maintain a Community Pool of cash for purchasing family level improvements and guarding against emergencies
    • Use taxation judiciously to increase village improvement purchasing power
    • Invest in small business to increase your annual income