Getting Started

Here's some basic notes we took from the TLwT 2010 conference session:

We decided to focus the first set of games (Second Life and ARG) on the relationship between sex trafficking and drug trafficking. This was at the urging of Jim Vernon, and the group agreed it would be valuable for exploring an important economic, social, and moral relationship. Furthermore, it would be most pertinent to our immediate setting, which is Denver, Colorado. It's also important to break a vast and complex subject down into smaller pieces, otherwise the project might not be able to manage circumstances as diverse as child soldiers in Uganda, house slaves in Haiti, and carpet workers in India.

The games will be organized around incentives -- another awesome suggestion from Jim. Players would win the game by changing the incentives. My preliminary observation here would be that the game would proceed in two stages. Stage one teaches players about the incentives that conspire, deliberately or not, to make trafficking safe or profitable. In stage two, players experiment with changing the incentives. To make trafficking more dangerous and less profitable is to win the game. We stated a goal of wanting to empower students to take action, and this drives directly at the heart of that.

How can this be done? This is part of our research project. Our hypothesis is that a bright light shining on the traffickers reduces their safety and their profit. But there might also be great value in teaching students ways to keep their friends and family safe. Perhaps we can't do anything to alter demand, but we could possibly help to staunch the supply, along with taking down the traffickers.

So we have an immediate challenge, which is to do some research. We want to define incentives for a variety of roles:

*Slaves. How do people, men, women, children, wind up enslaved? What incentives draw them into slavery, and keep them there?
*Traffickers. What an interesting business to go into. Why do it?
*Slave owners. For every trafficked slave, there is a master. Who are these people? What incentives drive them to enslave human beings?
*Families. Who are the families of slaves? Have they contributed to the enslavement of one of their own? Why?
*Law enforcement. What is the attitude of local law enforcement? What institutional obstacles and incentives define their priorities? Are they successful in combating human trafficking? Why or why not?
*Victims' assistants/Social workers. Same questions as those we might put to law enforcement.
*Activists. Why take action against slavery?
*Ordinary people. This one might be too slippery to use. Thoughts?

We decided to tackle the analysis of incentives from the point of view of our various disciplines. It might not be possible for all disciplines to address the incentives of all roles. I suggest we each try to just be as thorough as we can. After all, we're only in the brainstorming phase!

So, according to the following list, we each have tasks to address. Jim, for example, would address the economic incentives of slaves, traffickers, slave owners, and families, while Brian and Karla might attack the research surrounding sociological incentives of all of the different roles as defined above. Heidi and Beth would also tackle all roles, and Heidi has already done a great deal of the work (see the Ethics and Morals page).

If you have any resources in the community, please bring them in. The more people we involve, the stronger we are!

Here are the areas as defined by the group at the May 20th meeting:

Areas of Research

Economics - Jim Vernon

Accounting - Chris Luchs

Psychology/Sociology - Brian Smith and Karla Schorzman

Criminal Justice - Brian Smith

English: Karla Schorzman

International Studies, Comparative World Cultures and Civilizations: Isabelle Bauch

Ethics/Philosophy/Religious Studies - Beth Davies and Heidi Peterson

Instructional and Game Design - Kae Novak and Kate Hagerty