"I Made Peace"

We’ve received a note today from Rolf Burton and he kindly allowed us to post it in its entirety. The subject of the Blog post is the subject of his email – “I Made Peace”:

“I was at the Sundance Film Festival. That’s where I found out about the game. The most surprising thing that came from my experience with the video game Peacemaker was when the game ended and I created peace. I knew fully well what game I was playing and what my objective was but when peace was actually achieved it was such a weird feeling. I mean there isn’t supposed to be peace in that region right? We all want peace but do we believe it is possible?

I can say after playing the game and finding a solution I know that subconsciously I was certain that peace was not an option. When peace was achieved and I learned ways that it could happen my whole paradigm for the region changed. I realized that even though I am someone that would like to see peace in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, in actuality I did not think it was possible until after playing this game. Many times parents or colleagues will tell you to achieve something but most of the times have no idea what the process is to achieve that goal. And then people feel bad never achieving those grand goals they were told to achieve. It’s similar to saying we want peace in the Middle East but then no one ever attempts any of the paths that could create peace.

Learning with Peacemaker how many different paths to peace already exist reminded me of this quote I had cut out of a magazine that read “Oh God, I do not pray to you for peace for you have already provided us with so many ways if only we would follow them”. If anything Peacemaker shows the player that peace is actually possible. It’s the most important first step in creating peace. Believing its actually possible. May I suggest your next game focus on a solution to improving democracy in the United States.”

10 thoughts on “"I Made Peace"

  1. It seems simplistically optimistic to say that peace is possible in a video game therefore peace is possible in the real world. If I recall correctly from my days of playing “Joust” on the old Atari little men were flying around on the backs of ostriches, I don’t think that makes ostriches a viable form of air transportation in the real world.

  2. Matt, You probably will want to reread my statement. I never said peace was possible in the real world.
    The point I made, and its a simplistic one, is that in my mind I now think peace is possible. Peacemaker made me spend 3 hours focusing on finding a solution to peace instead of jumping on their heads and making eggs pop out(part of joust).

    Joust is fun but its point is pure fantasy pleasure. Peacemaker is based on real events and its point is to educate people about real events. So you failed the LSAT comprehension question. Your response doesn’t make sense.

    If you want to play Joust follow the website link below. If you want to play Peacemaker download it on the Peacemaker site.


  3. Start by making peace at the micro level interpersonally. One must start with making internal peace at the individual level with those around them, past or present, before expecting to accomplish big peace related goals at the marcro societal level. How do we achieve our grand goals? Start with the small stuff, the seemingly small and tedious tasks that may only appear distantly related to the grand goal. However by chipping away at the tedium, the large stuff gets accomplished. If you want to accomplish national or global peace related issues, start with resolving interpersonal peace issues that need to be addressed in your life. If you can spend 3 hours on an educational game in your quest to simplistically find peace in your outer world, you can sure spend 3 hours to create real peace right around you. Accomplishing peace does not come from virtual interactions while at the same time, hurting and neglecting in your real life interactions. Perhaps you may want to use that seemingly dispensable 3 hours of your time by creating some real peace with those around you who truly need the peaceful resolutions. That would make a true difference.

  4. I would like to explain why I posted Rolf’s note to begin with. To me it was a genuinely moving account of his encounter with our modest effort. As a developer of an interactive experience we couldn’t aim at a higher goal than a paradigm shift- helping someone to look at the world in a fresh way. In my eyes, the interesting part was not necessarily Rolf’s notion that “peace is possible” but rather the following statement: “I can say after playing the game and finding a solution I know that subconsciously I was certain that peace was not an option. When peace was achieved and I learned ways that it could happen my whole paradigm for the region changed. I realized that even though I am someone that would like to see peace in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, in actuality I did not think it was possible.”

    That unique moment of realization is significant, and PeaceMaker was instrumental in reaching it. The conclusion is a different issue and so is the nature of a virtual experience versus a non-virtual peacemaking effort. I’d be happy to discuss these topics in length in future posts. However, that very personal aha! moment is something that might happen with works of art, books or movies, and the fact that we could achieve something similar with interactive media is encouraging.

  5. The “Matts” and “Friends” of this world are quite possibly the reason we don’t have peace. It so strange that the comments on my e-mail to peacemaker make no attempt to describe the game or critique the game which was the point of my origional message. The comments only seem to attack my personal experience with the game that I described. It seems obvious that this person has not played the game yet. Many of the problems in the middle east seem to come from people like this who don’t read the book but want to critize it anyway. You might want to read the book first before writing your report.

  6. But it flatters me that someone would spend time replying. I must have really struct a nerve. But I think anyone would be confused with the “friend and Matt” comments because they don’t seem to be related to the origional message. This reason is why Asi had to take the time to explain things. It’s ok though they’re are many people in this world that don’t understand that is why we are trying to help you friend.

  7. Rolf, Asi

    I don’t beleive Matt’s point should be dismissed too lightly. I will admit, I have not played it, but I have a strong interest in political simulation games- I’m running one at the moment. I think that what Matt was driving at was this: Rolf, you found a solution because the game already allowed for its existence. Do you not see a little circularity there? How is this dealt with? Could you imagine real world circumstances where the very same actions which promoted peace in the game in fact produce worse outcomes in reality? Does the game design make any assumptions that are questionable in reality? All simulations can be tricked, taken advantage of by players. Did you really solve a problem, or did you find the trick?

    Running a multi-player world political simulation game, I have learned a few things. First, real humans will always surprise you. For good and bad. Second, they will always suspect the worst of each other. Third, no computer simulation can cover even a fraction of the possibilities that the human mind can generate.

    Ergo, I to support Matt to a point. Achievement of something in a game should in no way make you feel like the real thing is more or less achievable, no matter how much effort went into the game design.


  8. I just wanted to add my reflection on this string. I see the two conversations here as diverging in terms of content. It is the difference between an experience and a strategy. We are open about the assumptions we made in creating the game ( please see the post on PeaceMaker: Design Assumptions ). We are open about the fact that we have not created a new roadmap to peace. We haven’t created the step by step strategy for peace. The talking point being that if we had that answer we wouldn’t be making a game. However we feel that even if you disagree with the specifics of each action and response that there are positive experiences to be gained such as Rolf’s. A similar response to his in terms of experience was this quote: “At first I played on the Israeli side and my reaction was the Palestinian President is being so unfair and hard. So then I switched sides, and literally for the first time in my life was truly able to see the situation from the other side. “. This experience is not related to a singular act in the game but the overarching experience. We welcome discussion about faults in the presentation of the issues but as long as we affect the person on this kind of level regardless of their view of the winning strategy then we have accomplished something. To Ben et all and this is not a simple sales ploy I would ask you, as Rolf said, to play the game and see how you apporach this conversation after having had the experience. I can’t guarantee you will have that type of a reflection, but if you don’t we can have an informed discussion about what we were unable to or chose not to simulate in the game because as you said no simulation will be able to cover every facet of society.

    Design Assumptions Post:

  9. My intent in posting my comment was not to provide feedback on the game itself but on commenting on Rolf’s piece as an example of the growing over-reliance on substituting virtual reality for real life experiences. I continually encounter individuals who appear to substitute the virtual for real life human interactions–and believe that the virtual is the better than the real. The computer may allow more convenient and speedy experiences to lots of things. However, I believe that experiencing and learning from real life human interactions, especially when addressing issues of humanity, i.e., world peace, is crucial. I just want to prevent the apparent demise or breakdown of sensible human interaction.

  10. It took me 20 minutes to achieve peace as the Israeli prime minister, and double that time as the Palestinian president.
    So now I am the prowd owner of two Nobel medals !!
    In reality I don’t think there is a chance for peace in the middle east, at best a cease-fire.
    Maybe you should change the name of the game to “Cease-fire maker” ?!?!?