Ivy League? Me? If you had suggested that I’d be attending an ivy-league school two years ago, I would have laughed. And honestly? I’d have thought you were crazy too.
But here I am, and the newness has yet to wear off.
Entering this program I expected to be stuck in classrooms frantically taking notes, or living in the library researching and writing papers. Call me a traditionalist but that’s how I saw the oncoming classwork for the NECR program. Though a lot of that has come true, I never would have thought that playing games would be a teaching tool. But it can be as we learned in our Conflict and Social Networks class.
Peacemaker is a game that puts you in the middle of the Middle East, and has you try different techniques and strategies to try and solve the Palestinian/Israeli issue. It let’s you play as either or both sides, attempting to solve what has been a protracted conflict. Be warned, playing this game can eat up several hours before you know it.
Not wanting to bring peace to the Middle-East? Then perhaps saving Darfur is more your speed. Here you get to worry about 2.5-million refugees and keep the camp functioning.
What about civil disobedience? Does it work? Now you can find out here, without having to make posters. Though, ironically you may have to pay to play.
Struggling with your finances? Columbia isn’t cheap as we know, but financing that may not be as challenging as trying to live on a minimum wage. And now you can try to do just that.
Regardless of topic, using games is an effective method to expose people to some complex conflict issues. They can help make the situations more “real” than just reading a news article or seeing a story on TV. All of these games, and most other similar ones, highlight how there are no easy solutions or answers.
Discussion in our class brought out that organizations create these games to educate and elucidate an issue, but also to suggest a point of view. And game design limits some of the elements and factors in a real life scenario, but users can expect to be exposed to main themes that may defy simplistic solutions.
And players may leave the game with more than a higher-level character, or a virtual house in the Hamptons.