Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Peacemaker game

One of my lecturers posted this link to the Peacemaker Game on our module discussion board this morning. A colleague of his is planning to use it for a project for an undergraduate module about the values of gaming. The premise of Peacemaker is that the player takes the role of the Israeli Prime Minister or the the Palestinian President, reacts to events happening in the war and attempts to resolve the conflict.

The game was piloted in 2005 in a university project in which two Carnegie Mellon classrooms (one in Pittsburgh, the other in Qatar), linked via video conferencing, played the game simultaneously. This was treated as a user test opportunity. The producers interviewed students playing the game and asked them to relate their thoughts and feelings as they made decisions in the game.

The producers are very frank about their expectations regarding Peacemaker - they have no delusions about resolving the middle east conflict through their game - but they have observed an increased depth of understanding of the issues in the students involved in the project.

Very touchingly, Asi Burak, one of the producers of Peacemaker says that in between the many games about violence, war and destruction, "we say a simple thing: there is certainly a place for one, little game about peace."

Sadly, there is a cost associated with the game itself. At US$20, it isn't going to break the bank, and I'm sure the producers could defend that cost most credibly. But my own view is that a game intended to get people talking and thinking about peace should surely be free...?

3 comments:

asiburak said...

Karyn, thanks for this post. As the producers of PeaceMaker, we never understood why a game for peace should be given for free, and people have no problems with violent games sold for $50-60. For the full version of our reasons for charging money I would refer you to our post titled: "Why PeaceMaker Costs Money?"
http://www.peacemakergame.com/blog/2007/02/13/why-peacemaker-costs-money/

Karyn Romeis said...

Hi Asi - Thanks for taking the time to comment. I applaud what you have done with this game, and I would be interested to hear whether you have further developed the idea to cover other issues/areas of conflict. Thanks for the link to your side of the story - I hope people will read it and form their own views.

I guess I assumed the drivers behind a game about war and a game about peace would be different. The game about war seeks purely to entertain, whereas the game about peace seeks (I hope) to educate. However, I certainly don't begrudge you your right to an income, or your right to argue your case.

asiburak said...

Thanks for the compliments, I will make sure to pass them along to the rest of the team.

You are bringing up real issues that justify a deeper discussion. We do have plans for future socio-political titles, and we feel that we designed a platform rather than one game. It is a platform to "play the news" and understand multiple perspectives on current events in a way that only interactive media allows.

Regarding your other comment, we are actually trying to fight hard with the perception that peace=education. I believe that in order to present a real alternative to "war games" we need to turn "peacemaking" into an engaging, fresh and worthwhile experience. The educational part then becomes natural. If we'll achieve that goal other positive titles will follow and interactive media will mature with more genres and new audiences, (more like cinema and books).