Peacemaking is often attributed to great leaders or as often is the case to wishful thinking. But thanks to ImpactGames becoming a Peacemaker is now possible.
Peacemaker is an interactive game set around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All its game elements are rooted in real life situations. In fact, it is so real that it includes pictures and videos from real events occurring on both the Palestinian and the Israeli side. To win the game, the player impersonating either the Palestinian president or the Israeli Primer Minister needs to make peace between the two nations and obtain a Nobel Prize.
The game can be played at three different levels: calm, tense, violent. This certainly appeals to a wider range of audiences and plays an important part in its re-playabilty. The player is first attracted by the neat design of the game and as the game unfolds is further engaged by by the real life images and footage.
As the ARCS model suggests attention is maintained not only by art but by the nature of the decisions the player has to make and their consequences on many intertwined levels. Players are also engaged because the content is based on intriguing real life events, but players with a special interest in the conflict, either because of their geographical location or because of their field of study, will find the game even more relevant to their personal interests and therefore more engaging. The designers understood that and made the game available in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. A high level of satisfaction is reached when the player wins a Nobel and offers peace to the region. Such satisfaction is clearly sensed in one of the players’ responses after winning the game:”I did it, I created peace in Palestine!”
While the game offers Fantasy as players have a chance to be the “others” and experience the situation from their side, what seems to be the most appealing to the players though is one of the biggest motivational elements identified by Malone and Lepper: challenge. The game seems to have a fairly simple objective, but as the real world events have unfortunately proved, it is one of the most challenging political crises that our world has been facing. And as the game builds on these events, the challenge lies indeed in making peace all while keeping everybody happy : your side, the other side, the external political forces involved and of course the media. As one of the Israeli students at Carnegie Mellon puts it, “I played as the Palestinian president, and it was very frustrating; it seemed that no matter what decision i took Israelis kept provoking me.”
Control is another important motivational aspect of this game. The fate of the region lies in the hands of the player and in the type of high-level decisions s/he will make. This is why he is offered a range of military, political, or infrastructural actions.
The game was appraised by both game designers and educators. It won many awards and was even incorporated into the curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University in the Middle Eastern studies program in both Pittsburgh and Doha, Qatar.
While game play stays in the realm of virtual realities, the game seems to present a non-biased point of view and can certainly teach the player about the true nature of the conflict. I wonder if President Obama played this game before winning his Nobel Prize?