I write this, Monday the 29th of January, violence between the Fatah
and Hamas factions in Palestine is tearing the guts out of Gaza City.
Dozens have been killed in the last couple of days; shops and
government buildings set ablaze; and fighters from both groups have
begun a wave of kidnappings, snatching senior leaders from the
opposition and holding them for ransom.
Palestinian economy, already depressed, weakens further as businesses
close and people stay home to avoid the danger. The chances of forming
a functioning government in Palestine are at their lowest ebb.
Negotiations with Israel are at a standstill, because how can the
Israelis bargain meaningfully with someone who might be dead or
Personally, I’m so fed up
with these militants that I’ve ordered a targeted assassination of some
of their leaders. The last time I tried this, it fizzled. My death
squad broke into the man’s home and found nobody there but an old lady
and a little girl, so they left. Word got out and everybody snickered
at the incompetence of my security forces. This time, however, things
went better: they blew him up with a car bomb, and I’ve seen a
photograph of the blazing car. The militants are furious, but my
standing with ordinary Palestinians has gone up a little, and that’s my
main concern. The rest of the world, for the most part, doesn’t much
care about the political murder I’ve just committed.
first two paragraphs of this column are actual fact, and refer to the
browser window on the left side of my screen, which is open to the BBC
News website. The third paragraph refers to the right-hand window, in
which I’m role-playing the President of the Palestinian Authority in a
pre-release version of PeaceMaker, a forthcoming title from Impact Games. The
contents of the two windows are startlingly similar, and the effect is
greatly heightened by the game’s use of real news photographs and video
footage from Israel and Palestine.
There’s no animation in PeaceMaker,
nothing cute, nothing that someone can dismiss as “only a game.” When a
missile strike goes awry, or a suicide bomber strikes, the blood and
bodies you see on the screen are those of real people. More than any
other game I’ve ever played, PeaceMaker portrays the truth – or a subset of it – both the good and the bad.
game styles itself “a video game to promote peace.” It began life as a
master’s degree project at Carnegie-Mellon University’s Entertainment
Technology Center, but is now a commercial product due for release in a
few weeks. PeaceMaker has already received a great deal of attention from the world press. You can read other reports through an extensive collection of links available at the game’s website.
you might expect, I’m chiefly interested in it from the designer’s
perspective. We’re all familiar with the concept of asymmetric warfare
these days, and almost all war games are asymmetric anyway. But what
about asymmetric peacefare? The folks at Impact Games kindly let me
take an early look.