NEW YORK Speaking to Asi Burak, the NY-based president of Games for Change, an organization that “catalyzes social impact through digital games”, it is clear that alternatives to mainstream gaming do exist. “The beauty of games is that they are interactive and certain games have the potential to make people think critically about themselves and the world that surrounds them,” he said. This certainly differs from what many parents and teenagers accept as the nature of digital gaming.
One of the most illustrative examples of this atypical form of gaming is ‘Peacemaker’, published in 2007. The game focuses on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and enables players to pick sides. Through exploration and understanding, right or wrong becomes almost irrelevant – the main message being the inherent complexity of the situation, as opposed to the end-result. Using reality footage, the game incites a greater reflection on actions taken in real-life scenarios. “Though enhancing ‘social good’ is part of the agenda of many of the creators, Peacemaker enables players to understand complex geopolitical dynamics through a personal decision-making process.” Used in various communities, Burak offers a touching example of Palestinian and Israeli students playing together, catalyzing dialogue and perhaps a less superfluous, one-sided vision of their conflict. The pedagogical reach of such digital media is game-changing indeed by anyone’s standards.