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Friday, February 02, 2007

PeaceMaker game

I don't know how many of you noticed the ads for the PeaceMaker game on the Pajamas Media affiliated blogs. I did and I decided to check it out. There's an introductory video to the game that you can watch here:

Please note that this is not the video to which the PJM blogs are referring people, but I found it much more informative.

Having not played the game or seen anything about it other than the videos it's kind of difficult to comment, but there are a couple of things worth pointing out. First, the idea of forcing parties to a conflict to role-play the other side to gain a better understanding is classic negotiation game playing. It's something I learned when I took this course at Harvard ten and a half years ago. In the aftermath of the 'peace process' initiated at Oslo in 1993, many Israelis were encouraged to role play the 'Palestinian' side of the conflict. The results were disastrous. The 'Palestinians' were never prepared for peace and never encouraged to role play the Israeli side, while it took Israelis two and a half years of being blown up to even recognize that they were at war and undertake Operation Defensive Shield. Role playing only works if both sides do it.

Second, I loved Roger Fisher's course and got a lot out of it. I try to use his tactics in business negotiations all the time. But one of the things it depends upon is being able to state shared goals and values across both sides of a divide. There are no shared goals and values between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' They want to murder us - or at least expel us from this country. They have been very clear about that. Most Israelis would give away half the country to live in peace, and trust that would satisfy the 'Palestinians.' (I would not because I don't trust the 'Palestinians' or the Arabs generally). I believe that the lack of shared goals and values is why Professor Fisher's tactics have not worked here (he has tried them).

Third, the fact that the game needed a 'Palestinian' version and an Israeli version tells me that it's a game and not real life. While it sounds like a noble endeavor, I don't expect it to bring about peace anytime in my lifetime.

Fourth, it's curious that this is the only conflict in the world that people find interesting enough to make into a game.

Color me cynical.

Would I buy the game? Maybe. But that's not the point of the game, is it?


At 3:55 PM, Blogger M. Simon said...

For the role playing to work well you have to understand the other side's motives. Not just what they want but why.

Sounds to me like a classic case of "mirror imaging".

The Israelis were probably playing Germans vs French.

The Palis - Hatfields vs McCoys

At 5:26 PM, Blogger We're the ones who have to put up with them said...

It sounds well-intended but naive. I agree that the fact that there needs to be an Israeli version and a Palestinian version really says it all.


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