I use the “Peacemaker” game to help students in my graduate seminar understand the limits on actions of world leaders, and to teach how to see conflict from the viewpoint of the opponent and bystander. My course examines the contemporary use of violence by States and non-state agents.
Behavioral scientists and educators are trained to view conflict differently from soldiers or diplomats, so we learn to apply psychological principles to the analysis of terrorism and terrorist networks. We apply principles of conflict resolution to understanding global conflict, using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a primary example.
The course is structured around a “Peacemaker” lab each week, followed by a weekly lecture. My students work in teams to learn how to be effective consultants within governmental and non-governmental (NGO) agencies.
I am teaching at the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My course compares online and face-to-face coexistence activities aimed at bridging between young people living on different sides of the political, ethnic and religious divides in the Middle East. This course is based upon 3 years of work as a postdoc student at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.
Given that my course examines peace building processes among Israeli and Palestinian youths, I thought to let my students explore how Peacemaker can be utilized for this purpose. In order to learn more deeply about Peacemaker, the students played the game a few times. Then we analyzed various apsects of Peacemaker such as photos and videos used to capture events, startegies that can be taken by the Israeli prime minister and by the Palestinian president to achieve peace, and the design of the Israeli version vs. the Palestinian version.
After learning more about the game, my students had to decide how they want to use Peacemaker in their final class assignment. One student decided to run the game among Israeli-Jew and Palestinian high school pupils from East and West Jerusalem. She wants to examine how the game impacts attitudes toward the complexity of the conflict and toward the “other side”. Another student chose to run the game among Israeli and American students in order to estimate the impact of knowledge about the conflict on playing Peacemaker. Two of my students analyze the photos used in the game in order to explore how Israelis and Palestinians are represented in Peacemaker. Another student develops an activity that can be conducted among high school pupils before and after playing the game. After my students submit their final class assignments on March 2008, we can publish short posts about them.
For the aforementioned class assignments, I developed a platform together with Tom Calthrop from Barnraiser, a Swedish based non-profit organization dedicated to giving people the tools they need to share knowledge and advance society through social software. This platform includes a discussion forum, a resource center and a notes wall. The students contribute information to this platform and further elaborate it as they make progress in their work.
All the aforementioned process could not happen without the team that created Peacemaker and the Peres Center for Peace that distributed copies of the game in Israel and the West Bank.
In introduction, my name is Joe Stafura, the individual responsible for the daily advancement of the marketing and sales efforts here at ImpactGames.
I met Eric and Asi through my friend and partner Bill Recker, who is an investor and board member in ImpactGames, last summer. A few meetings later, I joined them on a daily basis to help with the startup process and my excitement has been growing ever since.
Since joining ImpactGames my oldest son, JZ and I have worked together on market research and analysis for Peacemaker and had many conversations about the bigger idea of the game. The following is what he wrote concerning some of those talks.
“PeaceMaker is a little game about a very big idea. Peace. What it takes to create peace. What it takes to maintain peace. And here at Impact Games, we’re not shy about believing that our little game can make a difference. You can’t be timid when you’re a PeaceMaker.
PeaceMaker is more than a game. It’s an idea. A structure. A force. A worldview. A community. A gathering place to determine how to view and change the world. And as a title, “PeaceMaker” refers to the best in people, to their honesty and courage, and to their unwavering drive to better themselves and the world around them.
Do you wanna be a PeaceMaker?
The ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes, to feel their happiness and their pain as an extension of your own; the ability to empathize with the humanity close you, and that far away, is perhaps the most significant skill one can develop in this modern world. Much interpersonal conflict, regional strife, and geopolitical struggle can be traced to the root cause of a misunderstanding of worldviews, or a denial of the other side’s view completely. To find a kernel of common ground among the fiercest antagonists is the first step towards the larger schemas of compromise, collaboration, and mutual respect. To see yourself in the mirror of national and social boundaries is to find restraint, if only for a moment, which may provide just enough of a window to recognize another path: that of a PeaceMaker.”