War and war games

Image courtesy IGN.
Image courtesy IGN.

Great article on More Intelligent Life on why war games based on (recent) history foster so much of controversy. As I noted in response to the post,

I would not be surprised if the identical game, with some new ahistorical maps based loosely on the Iraqi war theatre goes into production. The mistake seems to have been made in marketing the game as a re-enactment of a complex, violent chapter in the Iraq conflict. If one were to have called this something else, the controversy would be non-existent.

War games, much like Summer blockbusters, are films to escape from, not engaging with war. One aspect you’ve not dealt with are the so-called Serious Games and how they are being used to help promote conflict resolution.

For an article published about two years ago in the media on how serious games are helping conflict transformation, click here.

Fighting Global Warming!

An Inconvenient TruthBy all accounts, Al Gore’s An Innconvenient Truth is a film not to be missed. Reviews entreat even those sceptical of global warming to see, as the New York Times put succintly put it “a necessary film”:

As unsettling as it can be, it is also intellectually exhilarating, and, like any good piece of pedagogy, whets the appetite for further study. This is not everything you need to know about global warming: that’s the point. But it is a good place to start, and to continue, a process of education that could hardly be more urgent. “An Inconvenient Truth” is a necessary film.

In light of the issues this film raises, it’s interesting to note the development of a game to help understand prevent & transform (natural) resource based conflict. If global warming continues apace, there can be no doubt about the increase of resource based conflicts, especially between communities in upper-riparian and lower-riparian water bodies. Even today, irrigation up-stream is causing the Dead Sea to dissapear – a stark reminder that within a generation, we may not have water bodies that have existed for millennia.UNESCOAs the website of the UNESCO PCCP programme states:

UNESCO has launched the project From Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PCCP). While this effort is relevant to each of the challenges, it addresses more specifically the challenge of sharing water resources primarily from the point of view of governments, and develops decision-making and conflict prevention tools for the future.

The Climate Game is still in the early stages of development, but you can try out an interesting beta version of what the game may look like here. My main reservation at the moment is that the site seems very slow to load, even on a high-speed broadband connection – though with sufficient patience, the interactive Flash based game does bring up some food for thought.It is imperative that games of this nature are translated into local languages in order to have the greatest potential to reach a population wider than those who speak English and Spanish (which are at present the only two languages on offer to play the game in).Some of the slides of a PowerPoint presentation of the game seem to suggest that game may well be available on mobile telephones as well, though it would also be useful in the concept planning stage to think of a board game that one can print in the vernacular for little cost and distribute or use in workshops on climate change and conservation. A game of this nature also would benefit greatly from the buy-in of a large mobile telecoms provider – so as to disseminate & popularise the game to a population of mobile phone users that is growing exponentially each year.If you have children between 12 – 18, I’d suggest you join the team of beta testers and help develop a game that if it lives up to its potential, can aid greatly in the understanding of climate change issues amongst the leaders of tomorrow.Related posts:Darfur is Dying : Using games for political activismAn email from Colin RuleTechnologies of Play: Video Games and GenderMobile phone gaming – The next generation?New games for the War Against Terror?Third World Farmer – The GamePaul Currion’s comments on Third World Farmer