The Nobel Foundation Says No to PeaceMaker

Well, not every day you receive a formal letter from the Nobel Foundation. Excited, we opened the large envelope from Sweden thinking that our efforts were positively acknowledged by the institute. Long ago we chose to include the Nobel Peace Prize and what it stands for as the ultimate award for a true PeaceMaker. We couldn’t think of a better ending to our peace game than standing on that honorable stage with world leaders and past peacemakers. To be honest, there was also controversy. We got numerous angry emails from Jewish and Israelis that lost their faith in that institution after Arafat has received the prize in 1994. In their eyes he was actually the cause for the failure of the peace process.

Well, back to the envelope. Unfortunately, the letter was not such an acknowledgment. In fact it was a “warning/cease and desist letter” for using the Nobel medal as part of our game. As it turns out – the Nobel foundation owns trademark registrations and the letter claims that we “take unfair advantage of their intellectual property rights, in a way that is detrimental to the distinctive and repute of this trademark”. Although there was no infringement on our side, and we had nothing but pure intentions, as a small business we couldn’t afford a legal battle. We also thought that our energies should be invested in other places. Sadly, we’ve decided to remove all mentions of the prize (textual and visual) from our site, the game and all other materials. Starting from version 1.06 of PeaceMaker players will no longer receive the Nobel Prize. Would the Nobel guys feel the same if this was a book or a movie, I wonder. Still, in the world of Internet transparency, global free speech and blurry borders between public domain and IP it seems somewhat out of place and disappointing.

Two-State Solution

Last week we have received the following inquiry from a player:
“Hey, I was wondering about the “Two-State Solution”. I beat the game today and the game said I had created the two state solution. I wanted you to know that, yes people are talking about a two state solution, but is it really going to work? I think Israel/Palestine is too small for there to be two states… If that doesn’t work, than what do you think will happen?”

A tough question! At first, we didn’t want to define the end-solution of PeaceMaker and thus avoid the controversy. We assumed that lowering the violence level will be enough as a positive outcome in the game. Already in early stages of our development we were proved wrong and players demanded “a more meaningful outcome”.

So why the two-state solution? We are neither politicians nor prophets. What I can say is that we’ve worked with many content experts from both sides of the conflict and from the American perspective. Following their educated advice we’ve chosen the two-state solution, mainly because it is supported by UN resolutions, by the US’ road map and by the Arab World initiative. In addition, frequent public polls in Israel and the Palestinian Authority show it is a widely popular and acceptable solution

As always, we welcome you to challenge our assumptions and comment on them in this blog. We are aware of other solutions, some of them gathered significant public support. After working on PeaceMaker for so long, we are also aware of the weaknesses and pitfalls of the two-state solution. At the end of the day, we focused our experience on the path and the process rather than on the solution. We believe that this is a good starting point- in the virtual world, and perhaps also in the real world.