Bhutan: Game-changing approach to fight youth unemployment


1,904 people played the online social media game with unemployment theme
Active discussion raised through game platform and made into interactive visualization.
Possible solutions for youth unemployment created when the top two causes from the game winners get supported.
The inputs from the game has provided a new insight and generated different perspectives on unemployment issues for policy consideration by the Government



In Bhutan, youth are the largest unemployed demographic; nationally, 7.3% were unemployed in 2012, and in urban areas it was nearly double that figure. With almost half (48.9%) the population under the age of 25, the Royal Government of Bhutan, parents, educators, the private sector, civil society, and particularly the youth, are looking for new and creative approaches to engage each other in constructive dialogues about youth unemployment.

In order to help young people in Bhutan to participate in creating solutions for this issue, UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour of Bhutan and Emerson College (US), developed the online gaming project Youth@Work


Prepare for the online game - offline


Community PlanIt, as a game that makes planning playful, and gives everyone the power to shape the future of their community, has been used in a number of planning contexts in the United States and around the world, where it was successfully used to engage the public on the issues of youth unemployment in that country. However, it has not been implanted in an Asian developing country before. 

To better understand the context and needs, consultants from the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, who created the Community PlanIt platform in 2012, visited Bhutan and met with UNDP, officials  of the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources, the Institute for Management Studies, and other local agencies to create and promote the game.

As an important step of developing the game, in early Octorber, a 2-day design workshop was held in Paro with local youth leaders, school principals, government officials and others to engage them directly in the process of game-based thinking as an approach to solving development issues.

The workshop focused on game creation and testing of non-digital games that will open up meaningful public conversation about the issue of youth employment. The trainers demonstrated on how to design games and play games, wherein the space of play builds empathy and understanding between participants. The participants also provided insight and information about the issues facing Bhutanese youth that were later ncorporated into the content of the online game. 

Check out the photo gallery from the workshop:



Game on!


Youth@Work Bhutan was officially launched in October 2014. Played online, or through SMS, the game consists of three ‘missions’, each open for one week with its own unique theme (e.g. information sources, educational opportunities, etc). 

Game participants answer questions and complete exercises designed to build empathy between different members of society, raise awareness of youth employment issues, and instill a sense of personal responsibility for various aspects of Bhutan’s youth unemployment issue. Throughout the process, participants gain the opportunity to express their opinions about what is missing from the system and deliberate on the best solutions to the problem of youth unemployment in Bhutan today.

Within the game, the particpants can also promote ideas for new projects. The most popular proposals supported by a majority of players will be recognized by the organizers and awarded funding at the conclusion of the game. UNDP and the Ministry of Labour will also incorporate the inputs and ideas gained into long-term strategic plans in the country. 


Results Visualized


With the support from the Engagement lab of Emerson College in the United States, the results from the game are made into an interactive visualization where users can explore in various ways. 

Check out the viz here.

Page last updated: Oct 24, 2015

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