Playmatics has teamed up with The Millenium Institute (no relation to Lance Henriksen) and raised $1 million from Swiss angel investors for the upcoming "Shadow Government" project.
This social game is descibed as "an entirely new form of social gaming based on the gamification of real countries, systems, and worldwide events." Shadow Government uses real-world data and The Millenium Institute's government modeling tools to create a kind of educational game where you can run nations and play around with variables to see what they do.
Gamification took off after Jesse Schell's now-famous talk at DICE 2010 and it was a pretty big topic at GDC '11 this year. A lot of designers are playing around with how to apply elements from game design to real-world environments and settings, and how to turn tradionally boring things into fun approaches to education or societal support functions.
The idea of gamification in itself is not bad or evil at all, as long as it's applied in a good way and not just used as a marketing trick. And at least this project has Margaret Wallace involved in it -- who knows what she's doing -- so it could become a fun way to educate people on how real-world problems can be solved, without having to train them in sociology and international politics. But I think I played this game before on a more massive scale. What was it called again?
Oh yeah, Galactic Civilizations II.