The Story of SmileUrbo
The idea of SmileUrbo all started in a small village in the region of Kociewie, Poland where Aleksandra Zemke – founder of the Asociacion Smilemundo- spent her holidays as a child. For several years, the village hosted a profitable music festival. However, the locals were unable to take economic advantage of this opportunity. Locals did not provide visitor accommodation and food vendors would commute from surrounding areas.
“I was intrigued by the lack of cohesiveness within this village, not just in regards to the festival but as a community, so I chose to write my master’s thesis on this local community. I conducted field research all summer, spoke to whomever I could, and what I understood by the end was that there was ongoing conflict that had not yet been tackled as they lacked the tools and knowledge to resolve it. I have realized that the conflict resolution skills necessary for community success are not being taught in the majority of schools. I believe the system should support teaching collaboration and working together as a community as much as it supports teaching maths and languages. When I continued studying conflict resolution in Amsterdam, I noticed that this pattern of division within communities could be found all over the world. In terms of development, many view the economy as the most important component. This often leads to overlooking the role played by human factors.”
-High Heels Magazine (July, 2015)-
The idea of SmileUrbo was only a dream of Aleksandra’s for many years. Nevertheless, in 2013 she received the opportunity she had been waiting for. Diputació de Barcelona (the Province of Barcelona) announced a funding competition for the best new educational project regarding development. SmileUrbo won and received funding to create the first version of the game. Later, in partnership with Foundation Innowatorium and with the support of Erasmus Plus, the game was translated into three languages.
SmileUrbo is a reality-based game, a scientific diagnosis of the deficiencies in social structures illustrated by virtual reality. The scenario of the game gives an opportunity for the players to be immersed in real life challenges and work through divergence for the common good.