Wednesday, December 5, 2007

PeaceMaker: Not as Easy as You Think

Just in time for Christmas!

For all those voices that clamor every time Israel makes a move (or doesn't) in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this is a perfect gift. A virtual game called PeaceMaker that lets you be the one to call the shots on all the tough decisions to resolve the conflict. Think you know better than any of the Israeli Prime Ministers? Ever wonder why no matter whether they came from the right or the left, when in office they made choices you never would. Well, this is the perfect opportunity to find out what it is like to be in their shoes.

Really $19.95 seems a small price to pay for anyone who thinks they could call the shots better to get the "right" outcome in the conflict. If only this game would be bought and played by all with hardline positions. Maybe some would see what the consequences of their choices would really be. (And without actually blowing up the whole region!)

That is probably my biggest complaint about the far right advocates for Israel. There is never any talk about the consequences of the hard line positions they propose the Israeli government take on all the issues that arise. PeaceMaker the game could be very educational in that respect.
As the game website says, "PeaceMaker will test your skills, assumptions and prior knowledge. Play it and you will never read the news the same way again."

Wouldn't that be nice?

You can download the demo at peacemakergame. com or purchase it online in Arabic, English or Hebrew. Give it to that know-it-all friend for Christmas, Hanukkah or Ramadan. Who knows? Maybe they really do have all the right answers for the conflict....or maybe they will emerge from the gaming experience with a deeper understanding of what the leaders are really up against trying to navigate through the morass.

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, the PeaceMaker game was created by a former IDF intelligence officer in Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology program.

"In PeaceMaker, gamers play as either the Palestinian president of Israeli prime minister as they attempt to lead their nation and their people toward a lasting international peace," goes the promotional material. "Players will encounter the same obstacles as real-life leaders, including protests, political pressures and acts of violence against soldiers and citizens alike."

Even a tour of the download-able demo quickly shows that making the right call is not as simple as many seem to think.

In a 2-11-07 post by on the PeaceMaker website, Asi Burak writes in Asymmetric Gameplay, Asymmetric Feedback:

"One of the fascinating things about an interactive piece like PeaceMaker is that it can take a life of its own. Players get positive messages you didn't intend to convey, others try very hard to find the bias towards one side or the other .... All I can say is we tried to create a realistic and balanced environment, arguably optimistic, with not intention to say that one side holds the key to a solution or that one side is to blame. "

Real peace in this conflict is going to require Divine intervention. In the meantime, we are called to be peacemakers...not hardliners. Not passive doormats, but those who have been given a ministry of reconciliation...even in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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