Among the changes we’ve recently made to the website, we’re happy to present our new free demos. Both are available for Mac and PC and are also hosted by other sites such as download.com. The mini or tutorial demo (60mb) is limited but effective. It does not provide real gameplay experience but it is a good overview of the interface and the features of PeaceMaker. The full demo (220mb) is a ‘try-and-buy’ version, which means that you have the full game in your hands and can activate it upon purchase, no second download required. It provides actual gameplay for 3 turns (3 weeks in ‘game time’).
Another change I’d like to point out is the new links page. It gives us a chance to show some related work and inspiration. As PeaceMaker and other games open a new category in interactive media, we always looked to similar developments in more traditional media like cinema or comic books. It is exciting to see creators still finding fresh ways to deal with meaningful content and challenge the boundaries between real world events and entertainment.
I wanted to dedicate this entry to our new tag line, and specifically the term “Playing the News“. We gathered a lot of feedback from early customers of PeaceMaker. A common theme is that the immersive nature and emotional impact of the game’s interactivity brings news events to life and creates a deeper retention and internalization of the information. I gathered a few quotes to demonstrate that effect:
– Eric Boyd on his blog: “I learned more in an hour playing this game than in years of listening to the news”
– T.Bowers: “Although he [my son] was able to go through the game quickly, he learned more about the conflicts that have been plaguing the Middle East in three hours than I have been able to teach him in many years.”
– Ernest Adams on Gamasutra and Mark MacKinnon of the Globe and Mail both reflected on their virtual experience while comparing it to current events. Adams through opening the BBC website on another screen while playing, and MacKinnon through sitting a few blocks from where the news was actually happening (Olmert-Abbas summit).
To us, “Playing the News” is a new concept. It is not about “education” as it is about consuming information. Just like we turn on the TV for the evening news, skim through the Sunday newspaper or watch a documentary, PeaceMaker is a new information channel. While this title is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict we at ImpactGames aim to create future titles about other socio-political issues (domestic or global). And, hopefully, provide better understanding and engagement through interactivity.
I wanted to mention two events we are participating in. Next week I will attend the iEarn national conference in NYC (Match 23th-24th). iEARN, our good friends, will host young adults from Ireland, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Cameroon, UK, Israel and the US to participate in discussions. Other attendees include former Vice President Al Gore and NBC’ Tim Russert. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will address the issue of technology in education, and is scheduled to speak on Friday, March 23, 1-2 pm.
Eric Brown, my dear partner, will attend the Skoll Forum in Oxford, England (March 27th-29th). The forum is the leading international event on social entrepreneurship that attracts every year around 700 social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, policy makers, corporate representatives, financiers and philanthropists from more than 40 countries. We were kindly invited to present as finalists of the Ashoka peace contest. Key note speakers include Jeff Skoll himself, Muhammad Yunus – the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate – and Dr. Larry Brilliant the Executive Director of Google.org.
The article in the Canadian newspaper starts with: “Armed with only his keyboard, Mark MacKinnon goes online to try and solve the age-old rift”. It is an interesting review especially due to the fact the reporter is sitting in his office in Jerusalem playing PeaceMaker while the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meeting only a few blocks away. MacKinnon writes: “The parallels with what was happening in the real world yesterday — where Mr. Abbas was trying to persuade Mr. Olmert to accept a Hamas-Fatah unity government and to help lift the economic blockade of the Palestinian Authority — were striking.”
On another note- we made some changes in our site and I will post a detailed account shortly.
“I, Video Game” is a new mini-series by the Discovery Channel that will air worldwide this spring. The show explores the revolution of interactive media in 5 episodes from the early days of Pong till the rich MMOs of today. We were interviewed for episode 3 which looks into the lines between reality and the virtual, how the new possibilities of the medium led game designers to portray virtual wars and us to aim at virtual peace. Here is a link to the full synopsis of the show (seems it airs in Asia tonight).