Friday, July 16, 2010

Real Lives 2010 Game Analysis

Real Lives 2010 Simulation

Background information

Real Lives 2010 was created by Bob Runyan through the organization known as Educational Simulations. Real Lives 2010 provides the player the opportunity to “walk in the shoes” of any one of a billion people in over 190 different countries. Bob Runyan’s goal as the creator of Real Lives 2010 is to “enhance the understanding and compassion in an increasingly global society” (

The game can be used in the classroom for students to learn how others live daily in other countries throughout the world. The hope is for these students to apply this experience to decisions they make in the future regarding politics, charity involvement, and acceptance of other cultures. The organization, Educational Simulations, donates 10% of its sales to help the disadvantaged countries it teaches about.

Play features

The game begins by informing you of your new identity as a newborn baby. You are given details about your family, dwelling, country, and a statistical breakdown of your overall well-being. The game player is able to learn what happens to him/herself on a year-by-year basis. Throughout the year, Real Lives 2010 informs you of statistically accurate events that can occur to you and your country; including political actions, economic prospects, health and family issues, education, religion, and the country’s quest for peace.

By the time you reach adolescence, you are able to make your own decisions regarding schooling, work, love interests, and leisure activities. The game player becomes an extremely active participant by the time he/she is in his/her twenties. The decisions the game player makes at this point will have a cause and affect. Your actions will have different outcomes depending on the current conditions of your country, your life, and your recent choices. You will eventually experience the happiness, as well as the heartaches, associated with your health, career, finances, and relationships.


Real Lives 2010 presents an authentic experience within a safe, game setting environment. In the game world of Real Lives 2010, you are able to advance one whole year of your life in just a quick click of a button. You are able to decide if you want to save money by choosing starvation, living in very modest accommodations, and opting to be a frugal shopper. In real life, while you may still be able to choose these same circumstances, you can not know what it feels like to live through them.

However, the objective of Bob Runyan is to inform the game player of these circumstances and to educate him/her of what he/she can humanly experience in this part of the world. All other aspects of the game are representative of the real world. We all experience issues with relationships, education, natural disasters, politics, religion. No one in the world will escape the experience aging. Real Lives 2010 provides an avenue for the game player to view a reality that exists for someone in the world right now.


A game has “fixed rules”, is played “in an orderly manner”, involves “competition”, at times “promotes the formation of social groupings”, may “represent a subset of reality”, involves at least one player that “is actively pursuing some goal”, and can be “entertaining” or used for “amusement”. “Conflict is fundamental to all games” and “the course of the game is never the same”. An educational game should provide “ample data and feedback to the user”, and the game should avail the user “multiple means of completion”. An educational game that offers too few resources to the user does not provide enough of a challenge to stimulate higher cognitive processing. Games that present varying options and possibilities to complete continue to motivate the user to participate in the game. Ultimately, a game is “a safe way to experience reality”.

Game Components
Promotes socialization/interaction
Player pursues a goal
Game represents a subset of reality

Weak Components

I am not sure if the Real Lives 2010 demo lacks some of the content that the original version entails, however, I did not have the opportunity to view a demo or an explanation of the game rules. Instead, there is a brief introduction at the beginning of the game that provides your new identity. The player would greatly benefit from a short tutorial or a section that describes what actions to expect throughout the simulation. There is no socialization with other players or fictional characters. The game does not provide many avenues of competition. It appears as though the player’s ultimate goal is to stay alive and maintain a happy and healthy life for as long as he/she is able to do so.

Strong Components

The player is, however, allowed to invest his/her money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. and can experience loss or gain accordingly. Such as one can experience in real life, there are many variables that the player encounters throughout the years. Real Lives 2010 represents a subset of reality that can be both amusing and safe for the player to experience.

Learner’s styles & Teaching / Learning objectives

I would not be able to use this game with the students I currently work with due to their age level and limited language ability (in both English and American Sign Language). However, I would choose Real Lives 2010 as a learning tool for High School students in a variety of classes (health, history, geography, religion, etc.) or for various courses on a collegiate level. Real Lives 2010 would work well with students who do well either with Diverging (feeling and watching - CE/RO) or Accommodating (doing and feeling - CE/AE) based on Kolb’s Learning Styles. The Diverging learner group is culturally sensitive and interested in learning about people. The Accommodating learner group enjoys solving problems through a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. (


Problem-solving Skills: the students should be able to rationalize what actions they can take to either eliminate the problem that have encountered or lead them in an upward momentum away from the crisis.

Decision-Making: ability to make a decision based on factors that the students are able to control and those they happen due to nature or the control of others. The students should be able to realize the “cause and affect” of their decisions.

Cultural Awareness/sensitivity: the students should be able to make decisions and problem solve based on the knowledge they have about the country in the Real Lives 2010 game. They should not make decisions based on American ideologies.

Implementation & assessment


Teachers wishing to implement Real Lives 2010 in the classroom must have access to computers for each student wishing to play the game. The full version will have to be uploaded at the cost of $899 for 30-user licenses or for schools for the value of $1 per student for each student enrolled in the school (minimum of 500 students). Either way, Real Lives 2010 is quite a costly tool to use in the classroom.

The stakeholders for this game would be the learners, teachers, parents, and the community as everyone who comes in contact with this game will come away with some knowledge about the country and the people of that land.


Real Lives 2010 can be implemented in the classroom or as a homework assignment if the students have access to a computer and the internet to download a free demo from home. The game educates the player about an environment that he/she may never have the opportunity to experience. According to Bob Runyan’s website, Real Lives 2010 is “The best way to learn about life in other countries short of going there”! (

However, prior to game play, it is vital for the teacher to instruct the students about cultural awareness and sensitivity. The teacher and the students should be prepared to encounter topics that may be considered taboo or beyond the scope of the classroom subject. I would use this game after several weeks of discussing a particular objective.

The teacher should plan to allot several class periods to play the game. Each player begins the game as a newborn. The game can take a few minutes or several hours depending on how life circumstances affect you. It is possible to live only a few days or live to be 70+years.

I do not know if the full version allows you to pick your country of origin. However, if you are unable to do so, each student has the possibility of being a native of more than 190 different countries.


I would assess Real Lives 2010 through performance. I would give the students oral exams or have them do oral presentations in front of the class about their experience in their country of origin. Students can compare or contrast their experiences through discussions. Also, students who were born in the same country but a different city or socioeconomic status, will have a different experience to share with the class. I could administer open-ended questions regarding possible solutions to the problems they encountered. For those that didn’t live long, I would ask them what they would do differently in life had they had the opportunity to do it all over again.

Overall, Real Lives 2010 is a wonderful game to teach cultural awareness. The game provides an avenue to educate students about foreign lands that they normally would not have the opportunity to explore.