Quandary Teaches Children How to Resolve Conflicts Through Understanding Different Perspectives

Scot Osterweil, creative director at MIT’s Education Arcade writes an interesting article on Boston.com detailing a game created by the lab to push the idea of good conflict resolution. The game is called "Quandry" and it teaches players to resolve conflicts by better understanding the different perspectives of those who might be engaged in strife.

In the game, players are captains of a space colony on the planet Braxos. While the colony remains in constant contact with Earth, a small group of settlers are responsible for working together to solve their problems, and accomplish the daily functions needed to keep the colony working. When there are conflicts on the colony it is the player's job to sort them out in the most peaceful and fairest way possible. Players do this by learning the details of the dispute with the parties involved and by paying attention to their different perspectives on the situation.

In investigating these misunderstanding, the captain must also learn how to separate facts from individual opinions, and decide what parts of any argument might move people toward agreement. You eventually propose your solution to a council of elders on Earth who make the final decision, but it will almost always be influenced by the information you provide.

"In working through the original design of this game, co-designer Marina Bers, associate professor of child development at Tufts University, and I wanted to make something that was neither preachy nor too earnest," wrote Osterweil. "We knew from the start that the game’s dilemmas would not have right or wrong answers. Too many games baldly signal their good intentions and most players, wanting to win, will do whatever the game designers indicate is the “right choice” without really reflecting on their actions. In Quandary, you only do well if you confront the complexity of the problem, and recognize that most participants in a dispute actually bring sincere, if conflicting, perspectives to the table. You get maximum points by listening to all the game characters, and accurately predicting how they will respond to the eventual solution, something that is only possible if you’ve come to understand each character’s point of view."

The game was created at Learning Games Network with Boston-based development partner Fablevision. It was named game of the year at the 2013 Games for Change Festival in New York.

You can find it for free at www.quandarygame.org.


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