This might be the first and last post in this series, as I may not find another game worth devoting an entire post. The first game I want to review really pushes the boundaries of what can be considered a “game”. The game in question is called Global Conflicts: Palestine.
Here’s a brief video clip showing scenes from the first mission and giving an overview of the game:
The basic premise of the game is that the player assumes the role of a journalist dropped into the middle of the conflict in Palestine. From there, a sort of “Choose Your Own Adventure” gameplay style unfolds. Your responses to conversations with characters in the game increase or decrease a confidence score with each character and your decisions affect whether you are viewed as Pro-Palestinian or Pro-Israeli.
As you go through missions you collect quotes from those you interview. At the end of the mission, you publish an article selecting quotes to support your stance, a headline, and images. Based on the strength of your choices your article can wind up on the front page, or buried deep within the newspaper.
The first mission involves going along with Palestinian authorities to investigate a report of terrorist activity. A man accused of terrorist acts is dragged from his home and weapons are produced as “evidence”. Your job is to document his treatment and report on it. The “Choose Your Own Adventure” style offers a number of possible pathways for the game. Two students could go in and have an entirely different experience while both winding up with front page articles.
This game is fantastic on a number of levels. First, the conflict between Israel and Palestine is very difficult for students to understand. This game gives them an intimate look at what life is like in the middle of the conflict. Second, for anyone teaching journalism, media bias, persuasive writing, history, sociology, or any number of other subjects there is tremendous depth for discussion of topics in each course. Finally, the game is engrossing despite it’s simple interface. There is little in the way of the gameplay. There are no advanced gaming skills necessary. You simply play the game, interact with characters, select your quotes, and develop the best possible article.
My one complaint is in the selection of quotes. Your “notepad” has limited space for quotes. If you fill it, and a better quote comes along, you are unable to replace an older one. This can be frustrating as it seems a supporting quote always pops up right after your notebook is full.
After a concerted effort to do a great job with the first mission, I had learned a fair amount about the treatment of suspected terrorists in the region, selected the perfect quotes, developed a top-notch article, and found out that it appeared on page 7 of the newspaper. This is definitely not a game that I would expect students to master within the first few minutes.
A couple of quotes from supporting documentation I found interesting:
We are convinced that learning about topics are interesting, and that it is a matter of engaging students at the right level and provide tangible experiences that provide relevance and good examples that abstract concepts can grow from.
On the expectation of some teachers for the game to teach for them:
Imagine our game as a field trip. Students will experience important issues in fully immersive 3D world. But, they still need the teacher to broaden their understanding of these experiences. We can take them some of they way, but to be quite frank it is up to you as a teacher!
Though a school license for the game is quite expensive, individual licenses are far more reasonable. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fits well into your curriculum I encourage you to look into Global Conflicts: Palestine.