Award-Winning Israeli-Palestinian Sim Brought to Market

April 26, 2007 -
An award-winning simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now available commercially from indie publisher Manifesto games.

Peacemaker, originally developed as a student project by a team at Carnegie-Mellon University, won the University of Southern California's Public Diplomacy Games Contest. As described in a press release:
PeaceMaker allows the player to try his or her skills of diplomacy and leadership by playing as either the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President.  Incorporating real-world events and news stories, the game challenges players to succeed as a leader where others have failed; to experience the joy of bringing peace to the region - or the agony of plunging the Middle East into disaster.

Manifesto's CEO Greg Costikyan added:
PeaceMaker... takes on one of the most difficult world issues, presents it without bias or prejudice, and challenges players to think about the issues, to do better than the real-world leaders. 

The development team at Impact Games also maintains a Peacemaker blog.

Comments

Re: Award-Winning Israeli-Palestinian Sim Brought to Market

This is a fun project to work on. My friends at the Nouveau Riche university started to work on a business management game that will allow grown-ups to learn some accounting and marketing by playing a first role based game.

This is a good thing for the gaming world. We need more games like this; and the irony is that this is a game that is trying to solve a real world problem while politicians are busy trying to solve a "virtual" (as in non-existant) problem in regards to video games. Again, hat's off to to this people.

Hopefully they've resolved some of the issues with previous version; Scott Jennings (formerly Lum the Mad) remarked that it was impossible to win as the Israelis (no matter what you did, you caught hell from someone) and you could only win as the Palestinians if you poured money into your infrastructure.

Then again, that's pretty much analogous to the RL conflict...

--TR

[...] Over at GamePolitics.com, they had a post about this award-winning simulation game, Peacemaker, where the player tries to solve the Middle East crisis, playing either as the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president. One of the taglines of the game is that this “game challenges players to succeed as a leader where others have failed; to experience the joy of bring peace to the region — or the agony of plunging the Middle East into disaster.” I feel that this is a good thing for the gaming world because instead of using violence to win the game, the player must resort to diplomacy and other non-violent methods to win the game; there needs to be more games like this. The irony is that this is a game where the player tries to solve a “real-world” problem while politicians, who should be finding a solution to this problem, are busy trying to solve a “virtual” (as in non-existant) problem in regards to video games, as evident by all of the failed legislation against video games in several states. Again, hat’s off to to these game developers and I recommend going to their website and downloading the free demo to see if you can bring peace to the Middle East. [...]

Award-Winning Israeli-Palestinian Sim Brought to Market...

...

Concerning the above post,

"Hopefully they’ve resolved some of the issues with previous version; Scott Jennings (formerly Lum the Mad) remarked that it was impossible to win as the Israelis (no matter what you did, you caught hell from someone) and you could only win as the Palestinians if you poured money into your infrastructure."

Having worked with the creators of the game during development and testing I can say with confidence that Scott's evaluation was wrong. We saw people make the same statements concerning the impossibility of winning one side or the other equally. Some said the Israeli taks was impossible and others claimed that the Palestinian win was unachievable.

PeaceMaker appears to "reflect" the biases you bring to the table (some reviewers have compared this to "mirroring" used n psychological testing although I haven't the background to comment), it is very interesting and shows some of the concepts of Dan Dennett's consciousness theories may have real importance in the development of future policies.

Having worked on this incredible I'm clearly biased but in my opinion this is one great game or media experience, give it a try.

Mmm...my concern here would be the ability of the game to accurately model the respective world views and behaviors involved (for example, the complete unwillingness of the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith, or at the very least to attempt to -enforce- any promises they make about cease-fires or non-violence.), and the external forces (the ways in which Syria and Iran take covert action to undermine Israel, threaten them by proxy by supporting Hezbollah's little private army in Lebanon, etc). The latter in particular is an absolute prerequisite for ANY realistic simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even if you're playing from the -Palestinian- side (since the Israeli government will often change its behaviour based on actions taken by these external actors).

Also, what are the conditions for "victory" in the game? Are they based on the old moderate compromise both sides now reject (two-state solution)? Or the stated Fatah and Hamas goals (the complete destruction of Israel as a state and forced expulsion or execution of all Jews in the region)? Or can you "win" by obtaining a lasting, stable peace on current terms (Palestinian settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with minimal Israeli presence)?

[...] An award-winning game dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called “Peacemaker,” is being turned into a commercial product.  Ignoring any personal opinions about the conflict itself, I’m always a little put off by what you might term “educational simulations” - games that attempt to role-play out a scenario with the objective of trying to teach a particular lesson.  I had a similar experience in an economics class, where the game was attempting to inculcate the concept of the benefits of free trade. [...]

While the game does add in some of the external influence, it's probably not as extreme as Brer would like it, which I agree is unfortunate, but it's also difficult to model that many factors.

And no, you can't achieve victory but blowing up Israel, since world opinion plays a big role in achieving the winning conditions. Wiping out Israel (or the Palestinians for that matter) just gets you labeled a war criminal and you lose.

Still, I found it very interesting and it did make me confront a lot of my own biases by playing as "the other side." You can read the review I wrote about a month ago by clicking the link in my name.

What is it with this spam ?

Anyhoo, this game I would like to try out.

Note: The link "Peacemaker" doesn't work.

Pro-tip: To win easily as the Isreali Prime Minister just dissolve your country and tell all of your people to move, that's the only way the Palestinians will be happy.

@Robert

Having read your review, I have to reiterate my point. It may be wonderful as a way of teaching people that "peace is hard and complicated", but it doesn't appear to accurately model the political and ideological structures of either side. For example, to lead people to believe that there is a Palestinian government invested in peaceful co-existence with Israel is simply dishonest. Those elements DO exist, but they have almost no political power or popular support. To illustrate, out of the 132 seats in the Palestinian National Authority:

74 seats are Hamas. From the Hamas Covenenant:

Article 13: here is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

45 seats are Fatah. From the Fatah Constitution, stated as their first goal:

Article 12: "Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence"

3 seats are PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), the authors of a rather high profile series of aircraft bombings and hijackings in the past and whose Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades continue an active campaign of suicide bombings of civilian targets in Israel.

That's 90% of the popular vote for active terrorist groups, controlling 92% of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Fatah and Hamas bicker and fight among themselves (as demonstrated so dramatically in recent days), but the one thing they -are- united on is the complete and utter destruction of the state of Israel.

You do have "The Alternative" socialist political alliance led by the DFLP with 2 seats, who are moderate in that they claim to only attack military targets (nowadays, that is. Their habit of gunning down school kids back in the 70s doesn't count) and aren't -quite- as vocal as most in decrying a two-state solution.

The only REAL moderate/centrists with -any- power are the Third Way and Independent Palestine political alliances, with a whopping 4 seats and 5.3% of the popular vote COMBINED.

If anyone -really- cares I can also lay out the political factions (nationalist hardliners, etc) on the Israeli side, but my point has to do with how the PNA often gets portrayed here.

@Brer, I'm in complete agreement with everything you said there. The game uses a hypothetical scenario where YOU are head of the Palestinian state. One of the options to try and create peace is to crack down on Hamas and Fatah, but this makes you VERY unpopular.

It's mirrored in Israel by a radical right-wing faction (sadly, whose name escapes me at the moment) who believe the Jews are the chosen people and there is no negotiating with the Arab states. Not much pleases them either.

I agree that the game doesn't reflect reality as well as it could (definitely doesn't take Hezabola into account) but it's more food for thought.

I would be really interested to find out how it's being received in middle-east.

@robert

Israel has a lot more special interest/lobby groups than the Palestinians (the effect of a more established and stable political system) but you're most likely thinking of Likud. They've been the most aggressive -popular- party in terms of not wanting to give up Jewish settlement in Gaza and the West Bank and not negotiating with the Palestinians until they renounce terror tactics. You also get intermittent support for that idea from groups like the ultra-orthodox Shas party, and from active groups like the Yesha Council (which is basically a lobby group made up of the leadership from the various Jewish settlements in Gaza, the West bank, etc).

The comments on accurate modeling of the situation are very interesting but irrelevant to the concept of the game, which never claims to "have" the solution.

The win path is the creation of the two states mainly because winning was considered to be a required part of game playing. It may not be the answer but it is accepted by over 70% of both sides as of the last polling.

The core hope of the game is to provide hope and maybe start to break down the defeatism of the past. OneVoice is new and there are many young people on both sides who believe in peace.

[...] [...]
 
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