The era of technology offers a great opportunity for peace workers and proponents of conflict transformation to use technological platforms to reach people across the globe and make a more powerful impact. The current uptake of technology in peacework includes the use of games, apps, mobile platforms, social media, and big data.
Specifically, gaming has become a multibillion dollar industry. Research firm DFC Intelligence estimates that the worldwide video game industry is poised to reach $70.1 billion by 2015 due to the combined growth of console, portable, PC, and online video games. Yet many popular games offer violence driven games even for young people. Games for Change has identified a lack of ‘peace-themed games’ but states that it is an industry that is slowly growing.
We, the Peace Superheroes team, (Sabrina and Marianne, the facilitators) are developing a Peace Superheroes digital game so we are seeing first-hand the opportunities and challenges in this space.
We invite participants to share their thoughts and ideas including projects they are currently working on or wish to develop. We also see this forum as an opportunity to harvest and share resources amongst participants around the use of gaming technologies in ADR and peace work.
Sabrina started out her career in Australia after completing a Psychology degree which landed her with her first job as a community counselor. Sabrina's passion and vocation have always lied in her commitment to help others and make a positive and significant social impact.
Sabrina moved on to complete a Master's degree in Human Resource Management to be able to successfully business partner with NFP leaders and executive teams to achieve greater impact and outcomes.
As a result, Sabrina has over 10 years experience in senior management across different sectors. This has consisted in living and working across several countries including the Mexico, UK and Papua New Guinea.
Sabrina also completed a Master's Degree in Peace and Conflict studies in the University of Sydney. She is passionate about conflict transformation and peace building. Her project management experience and interest in social justice has led for her to co-found a global team with two other peace proponents, who are working on Peace SuperHeroes, game design to teach young people/ children how to learn conflict transformation skills and make more positive choices under stressful situations. Gaming is a platform that combines her interest and belief that technology is a great tool to use to resolve many of today's problems.
Marianne Perez de Fransius helps people see the value of and access peace in their daily lives so that we can all live in a better world. She does this by rebranding peace as sexy, possible, profitable, and fun; teaching middle school kids peace and conflict transformation skills through video games; and helping parents travel the world with their babies. Marianne never felt like she fit in because she was born in Brazil of a French father and an American mother and was brought up in the Sephardic Jewish tradition. But growing up in a multicultural household and experiencing an international education, Marianne has seen over and over again the power of people to connect despite all their differences. Her bachelors degree is in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and her masters in peace and conflict studies from the European Peace University where her thesis was on "Moving Mainstream Media Towards a Culture of Peace." Marianne is also the author of "The Dreaded Conversation Workbook: Navigate Dreaded Conversations with Ease."
One thought I have is that we are in a time now where there are lots of games and apps coming out all the time, especially for mobile devices. This makes for a steady flow of new things to be interested in and makes it harder to stand out from the crowd. So finding ways to "get discovered" and tried out by new users is surely a challenge for low budget peace and conflict games.
Your point about violent games making lots of money at least suggests that conflict, the basis of all good stories, is something that attracts attention. Of course, I want to see constructively handled conflict be the thing we are most interested in, not the the most violent!
I think is the real challenge! People enjoy simulated violence and most of the popular games involve battling of some sort. How do you create a conflict resolution or non-violent game that will be as appealing to users as other games? This is a hard question and I don't have the answer to it. I would also say that it seems likely that other game developers have not solved this problem either.
Another game I'll add to the "check it out" list is the one called "Out on a Limb: A guide to getting along" from the University of Illinois Extension service. It used to be primarily provided via CD to schools, but now I think it is fully playable online and it has been translated into Spanish and Arabic. The target age group are 3rd Graders.
Thank you all for your contributions! Would love to hear more from you all. In the spirit of Teresa's comment earlier, here are a couple great resources that we can recommend, the Games for Change website (http://www.gamesforchange.org/) and their Google Group (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gamesforchange). The website is chock full of articles, resource lists, games by theme, industry news etc. The Google Group has a very active community. Whenever we've posted in it, we've gotten relevant and useful responses back within a day or two and I get the sense that it's the same for others. It has a mix of people from the Gaming side and from the Change (ADR/ conres/contrans/peacebuilding etc.) side so it's a good cross-over space.
What other resources do you recommend?
We hope you can share your final resources however we also want to take the opportunity to thank you for your participation and contribution.
Gaming as it is, it is a challenging environment even when lucrative. It is key to keep the end user/ player not only interested in the game but engaged enough so they return. Now we add the concept of 'conflict tranformation and soft skills building' and we had a whole new layer of challenge.
We will continue at it! And thank you again for your ideas and comments.
We would love to stay in touch so if you would like to share your email addresses that way we can add you to our mailing list, that would be great!
We look forward to sharig our prototype in the near future too.
Best wishes and Peace on,
Marianne, Meg and Sabrina - The Peace SuperHeroes team
Hi folks, some of you might be interested in this, to see developing research on games for peacebuilding education.