Protest against Violent Video Games

An interesting report coming from CBS-Portland around the holidays. The video shows a small crowd standing in front of Toys ‘R Us, demonstrating against violent video games and offering alternatives- games that promote non-violence and are socially or politically conscious. You can actually see the list of these games on the demonstrators’ signs. I swear we had nothing to do with that…

Press Release: 100,000 Israelis & Palestinians to Play PeaceMaker

The Peres Center for Peace Partners with ImpactGames to Distribute 100,000 Free PeaceMaker Video Games in the Mideast

Pittsburgh and Tel Aviv, November 21, 2007 — With the Mideast Peace Summit in Annapolis, Maryland just days away, 100,000 Israelis and Palestinians living in the actual conflict zone are about to try their hands at solving the peace puzzle—one game at a time. In an unprecedented giveaway, the Peres Center for Peace is distributing 100,000 free copies of the interactive game PeaceMaker to people in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

PeaceMaker is an award-winning interactive game that allows players to get inside the unpredictable politics of peace, discovering firsthand the huge challenges of leading a country, a people, and an international process. PeaceMaker players must choose to play either as the Israeli Prime Minister or Palestinian President. In the course of a typical game, players encounter real-life incidents affecting the Mideast, from protests and political pressures to violent acts, and the player must decide what to do next in order to achieve a virtual peace.

Approximately 75,000 copies will be sent to subscribers of the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz on November 27, with 10,000 copies of the game distributed through the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. An additional 15,000 copies of PeaceMaker will be distributed to Palestinian and Israeli high school classrooms and taught by specially trained teachers in the coming months.

“Since we first got the idea for PeaceMaker, it has been our hope to put this game in the hands of people who live with the real conflict every day, so they can play as the other side. With this game, the people can succeed where politicians and leaders have failed until now–bringing peace to the Middle-East,” says Asi Burak, co-founder of ImpactGames. “We are so grateful to the Peres Center; their high reputation, educational expertise and outreach to community groups in Israel and Palestine made this project possible.”

“It’s significant that the PeaceMaker giveaway in the Mideast is happening around the peace summit, but also at a time of year when millions of Westerners begin their holiday shopping by purchasing games where war, violence and conflict are central points of the game. To win at PeaceMaker, you have to cooperate with the other side and reach an understanding; you must challenge any prior knowledge or assumptions you have about the Mideast conflict,” says Eric Brown, CEO of ImpactGames.

Leading a new breed of games that are based on current events, PeaceMaker was created by a former Israeli Army Intelligence Corps captain, Asi Burak, and American Eric Brown, who met at Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious Entertainment Technology program. They created PeaceMaker with a panel of Palestinian and Israeli consultants and launched the game earlier this year. PeaceMaker is the first in a line of news-oriented games the Pittsburgh-based company is developing and is available in English, Hebrew and Arabic.

Research on Decision Making and Strategy in PeaceMaker

With funding from the Lounsbery Foundation, Professors at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a comprehensive research using PeaceMaker. The effort is led by Cleotilde Gonzalez, director of the university’s Dynamic Decision Making Laboratory, with the cooperation of Laurie Eisenberg, associate teaching professor of history and our educational adviser. The research aims to find how prior assumptions vs. deeper knowledge of the conflict may affect the students’ decision making process. The research will be conducted in Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon Qatar, Israel and the Palestinian territories. You can read more about it on the university site or in the Chronicle of Higher Education.