PeaceMaker a video game to promote peace.

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PeaceMaker a video game to promote peace.

United States
Project Summary
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ImpactGames aspires to impact society and promote change through interactive media. Our goal is to create engaging interactive experiences that explore social and political issues affecting the world today. ImpactGames first initiative is PeaceMaker, a video game simulation of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict: a tool that can be used to promote dialog and understanding among Israelis, Palestinians and people around the world. It is a game that allows the player to interact with the world as the leadership role from both sides of the conflict. The primary conflict management issues that we address revolve around creating empathy and a deeper understanding of multiple perspectives. We see interactive media as the perfect tool for creating experiences that can achieve these objectives. The immersive and emotional impact of these environments creates a deeper internalization of the information. The empowerment of interacting with the world as a leader forces an exploration of the issues and leads to a better understanding of the complexities of that perspective. ImpactGames future development aims to push the experience beyond the interaction within the game and into the community. The long-term goal is to create an online community and experience that allows people to share, build upon, and create avenues of dialogue and projects of collaboration. ImpactGames is already working with community and non-profit groups to establish events around the experience using the game as a launching point for ongoing dialogue and constructive debates. Our target audience begins with stakeholders in the particular conflict, but also includes people in other conflicts who can translate the experience to their own struggle. We also aim to engage the next generation, with their own vocabulary, in positive lessons for the future to counterbalance the vast amount of violent games currently on the market.

About You
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Your idea
Focus of activity

Technology

Start Year

2005

Positioning in the mosaic of solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of empathy

Main principle addressed

Create communities of peace builders

Innovation
Description of initiative:

ImpactGames aspires to impact society and promote change through interactive media. Our goal is to create engaging interactive experiences that explore social and political issues affecting the world today. ImpactGames first initiative is PeaceMaker, a video game simulation of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict: a tool that can be used to promote dialog and understanding among Israelis, Palestinians and people around the world. It is a game that allows the player to interact with the world as the leadership role from both sides of the conflict. The primary conflict management issues that we address revolve around creating empathy and a deeper understanding of multiple perspectives. We see interactive media as the perfect tool for creating experiences that can achieve these objectives. The immersive and emotional impact of these environments creates a deeper internalization of the information. The empowerment of interacting with the world as a leader forces an exploration of the issues and leads to a better understanding of the complexities of that perspective. ImpactGames future development aims to push the experience beyond the interaction within the game and into the community. The long-term goal is to create an online community and experience that allows people to share, build upon, and create avenues of dialogue and projects of collaboration. ImpactGames is already working with community and non-profit groups to establish events around the experience using the game as a launching point for ongoing dialogue and constructive debates. Our target audience begins with stakeholders in the particular conflict, but also includes people in other conflicts who can translate the experience to their own struggle. We also aim to engage the next generation, with their own vocabulary, in positive lessons for the future to counterbalance the vast amount of violent games currently on the market.

Description of innovation:

The field of ?serious? games is rapidly expanding the areas of professional training and socially conscious initiatives. We are not unique in the technology used or even the delivery mechanism. Our initiative differentiates itself from other products in three distinct areas: accessibility, current events presentation, and multiple perspective representation. Accessibility: The interface is simplified to make it easy for gamers and non- gamers of all ages. Our content is distilled down to make it while informative not overwhelming to people with limited knowledge of the subject material. Lastly we plan to take advantage of the Internet for online global distribution. Many of the current options are either sophisticated to the level necessitating expert knowledge, or simplified to the point that they present only anecdotal information. Current Events: Our initial product and all future products aim to include real world events, and images. Our long-term goal is to create interactive environments that will seamlessly integrate the latest changes into the experience. This helps bridge the experience to real world people, places, and perspectives. It also helps the user contextualize events from single moments in time to the bigger issues. Technology has only recently made it possible to realistically approach these types of initiatives. Perspective Shifting: Our products aim to represent the different struggles and concerns of multiple perspectives. Experiencing the world through the different roles gives a deeper understanding of the complexities of compromise. We hope to transition this base of understanding into real world dialogue and empathy through on and off-line community building. Improvements to user input and monitoring will allow for ongoing changes to the representation of concerns and the contextual effects of current events. Many of the examples available today focus on a singular viewpoint.

Delivery model:

We see 6 different areas where we can have a great impact: Stakeholders in the conflict or issue, high school and university students, online news consumers, special interest groups, gamers, and educators. Exponential growth in global broadband access has made it possible for us to focus distribution of the game online. Supporters from around the world have already illustrated to us that the only limiting factor is our ability to translate the game for regional markets. While we have plans for standard advertising and marketing techniques to reach the different groups we are also leveraging relationships we have to reach key groups and the general public. One benefit of our early support is that we have found great partnerships in a range of areas for supporting outreach to the community and educational networks. These partnerships will help us gain visibility through community and international cross-cultural events, promotion and support in gaining access and funding for schools both in the US and in cross-border interactive coursework. We believe that all of these partnerships are beneficial for both increasing the impact of the experience and gaining exposure for our product. Groups that have been great supporters in a range of these initiatives are The Gandhi Institute, The World Affairs Council, iEarn, and many others. We have also had many conversations with Foundations to create grants in support of these types of initiatives. Pairing these foundations with non-profits we can fund community and educational events. Our experience with a teleconferenced class between the US and Qatar showed us that through technology we can cross borders and cultures. To this end we have a Blog and are planning a teacher forum. We are working to implement hosted moderated discussions and a more robust feedback and interactive mechanism which will increase our impact and the offering to our community and partners.

Key operational partnerships:

We have partnerships that will help us to fund educational initiatives, validate the experience, and bring groups together to experience and build on our product. We have other partnerships that will help us to reach the market, find new ways to leverage emerging technologies, and research future features. Media: We formed relationships with different media sources to gain access to picture and video archives that will make it easier to institute new updates, future title development and new technology implementation. Distribution: We have relationships with distribution networks that are emerging as key players in the web 2.0 marketplace that we can leverage as we expand the depth of our technological platforms. University: Our ties with Carnegie Mellon gives us access to content experts, business and technology advisors, and advanced research that we hope to incorporate into new features of community interaction. Non-Profits: Relationships with non-profits and foundations give us access to larger resources for community and educational driven events and expertise. Endorsements: We have built a large network of supporters in Gov?t, NGO?s, Education, and the community that we will use for validating the experience. We have avoided some direct partnerships in our efforts to control the perception of what is driving our efforts. None of these partnerships are critical to our development, but the combination of them all is critical to our success.

Impact
Financial model:

Our online download distribution model relies heavily on the growth of broadband accessibility. This sectors growth trend gives us great confidence that we will be able to reach a very large global market. We will also have the ability to physically distribute our game to areas where there may not be reliable access. We are limited by the necessity of the audience to have at least computer access. Our relationships with foundations and non-profits will help us to distribute the game in areas where there may not be either the technology to support the experience or the budget to implement. These groups will also help support programs to train and implement educational and event driven programs.

Costs as percentage of income:

100

Financing:

ImpactGames is a for profit entity. The financial sustainability of our company will be determined by the success of our products. Our first funding came from Idea Foundry a non-profit focused on economic development and seed funding for Western Pennsylvania. The Idea Foundry investment was followed by investment from a local Angel Investor. These investments have closed our first round of funding. We intend to look for further funding post PeaceMaker launch to grow the company and fund future R&D. The mission of our company has driven us to look for funding sources that are philanthropic or from socially minded Investors. While we believe in the financial potential of our initiative we want to make sure that our backers are equally committed to our long-term vision.

Effectiveness:

<ul><li class="entry-label">Project outcomes: <span class="entry-text">Since we have yet to release our first title commercially our effect has been limited to beta tests and several classroom experiments. Individual Beta Tester: ?At first I played on the Israeli side and my reaction was the Palestinian President is being so unfair and hard. So then I switched sides, and literally for the first time in my life was truly able to see the situation from the other side.? Classroom Trial Student: ?In our class, we have spent much time learning about the history and evolution of the Zionist movement, State of Israel, Arab-Israeli wars, and peace negotiations. This simulation game gave me the opportunity to better understand the present condition, needs, wants, concerns and goals of both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.?</span></li><li class="entry-label">Number of clients in past year: <span class="entry-text">Though we haven?t released PeaceMaker yet we have seen an amazing reaction to what we are doing. We have had significant press internationally, and been asked to appear in the community and at universities for speaking engagements and panel discussions to help promote the fields surrounding our initiative. The idea has energized hundreds of people to write to us. An example from Arun Gandhi, Mahatma?s grandson: ?I have had the opportunity to observe many efforts by individuals from many countries to promote peace. In my opinion Peacemaker is ground breaking in both its conception and execution. This exceptionally creative and relevant video game will further concepts of conflict resolution and peacemaking and bring important new audiences into the fold.?</span></li></ul>

Scaling up strategy:
Stage of the initiative:

<i>Start Up</i> stage.

Expansion plan:

Our short term goal is to release PeaceMaker Israel-Palestine in early 2007. What we have created in PeaceMaker Israel-Palestine is not only the one game, but a platform. Even within this one title there are really two different games. Over the next three years we plan to expand to cover other conflicts and social issues such as India-Pakistan or Immigration. Unfortunately there is long list of issues that we feel could be improved through better understanding of the differing perspectives. We also plan to expand the surrounding technologies for the existing platform. We plan to incorporate new uses of technology to make the content and interaction of the player community more dynamic and immediate. We also want to create a broader and further reaching user community to carry the experience of the game into dialogue and debate.

Origin of the initiative:

PeaceMaker and ImpactGames were born in the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Carnegie Mellon. The ETC brings together individuals with interdisciplinary skills: Artists, designers, musicians and engineers. As students we looked at the media of the young generation- video games. While kids invest more and more hours playing them, 89% of top-selling games contain violent content. Public figures are warning parents from ?a new epidemic? (Senator Clinton). We wanted to prove that there is an alternative. We set out to create a video game that is meaningful and non- violent. We chose the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is to many a representation of the most significant challenges facing leaders today. We thought that in this particular point in time, we have a real chance to add new verbs to the vocabulary of the new generation, the future leaders of the world.