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.
Also I can testify to the effect “Playing the News” has. The very next day after my first play-throughs of PeaceMaker the local newspaper had a piece on the opening of the Rafah Gaza-Egypt border crossing (this story can be found also here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4377776.stm ).
Earlier, this little news item would have almost completely escaped my notice. Now, I immediately recognized the subject, had a grasp on the background and was thinking about the impact on Palestinian economy and sense of independence and on Israeli security even before they were mentioned in the story.
Making the policy decisions in the game and pondering the possible ramifications on all parties really makes the issues hit home and stay with you. It is a wonderfully efficient and fun way to study the real world. In several ways, I feel enriched by the experience.