About Risk Horizon

Risk Horizon is a real-time strategy game designed in partnership with the World Bank as part of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that took place in the summer of 2014. Players use the risk management tools of knowledge, protection, and insurance to guide the development of an alien world and survive increasingly powerful comet strikes.

The global preconception of Risk Management is that it is a cost that is not always affordable, especially in developing countries. The World Bank's Report on Risk Management and the learning module built around it reframes risk management as a tool for healthy development.

Risk Horizon was played during the MOOC's second week, which covered the most important tenets of risk management. The game's design goals were to reinforce these concepts and let users understand them in an experiential way while remaining accessible to a wide audience with a variety of learning styles. Players responded to questions about the game with qualitative essay-style answers, and were required to play at least three of the game's six levels to receive full credit for the MOOC.

  • A screenshot of the world of Alora
  • Art from the Risk Horizon game
  • Identify and understand the climate to better protect your city
  • Protect your buildings or risk them getting damaged by meteors

In Risk Horizon, players take on the role of the Luminator, the individual responsible for developing new communities on the alien world of Alora. The player must build and upgrade “pods” in order to speed up development and meet pre-set goals. However, the planet is frequently pelted by comets, which flood the community and damage the pods. Damaged pods do not produce development, so they must be prepared. This slows development and drains away resources that could be used elsewhere. In order to manage these risks, players must use a variety of tools. Knowledge allows them to examine comets to learn more about the risks they pose, and gain extra time to prepare. Protection raises their city up out of harm's way. Insurance decreases the time and cost of replacing lost development after a strike. Only by balancing these tactics with development are players are able to meet all their goals and complete all six levels.

More than 8,600 people played Risk Horizon as part of the course. Players were in nearly every country in the world, across six continents. The World Bank and Engagement Lab are currently conducting research on the effectiveness of using games like Risk Horizon in learning contexts, as well as on the impact of play in future behavior.