In the last few years, more and more organizations worldwide have started using games to address different social issues, including peacebuilding. Worldwide, many organizations and societies agree that online games (Gamification) is a promising new method to build confidence amongst people across conflict divides. For example, the award-winning Peacemaker game changed players’ perceptions on local conflicts by letting them assume the role of a political leader on different sides of the conflict. Games for Peace is trying increase interaction between Arab and Israeli youth by organizing joint sessions of the popular online game Minecraft. This project seeks to replicate the success of mentioned initiatives in Caucasus region, while taking into account the local context.
The project “Promoting Inter-Ethnic Engagement Amongst Youth in Conflict Divides”, supporting by the EU/UNDP Joint Initiative COBERM, can roughly be divided into two components. Firstly, we have developed our very own, entirely new peacebuilding game Peace Park. This game was designed by seasoned game developers, in close consultation with local and international experts in the field of conflict resolution and gamification of social issues. Peace Park is a sandbox game, that challenges players to restore peace in a communal park, by understanding visitors’ interests and making wise decisions. While yet in development, Peace Park has received honorable mention has received honorable mention within the PeaceApp competition by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the United Nations Development Program. Peace Park was designed by Mark-Rein Hagen and realized by Stormbringer Studios.
Secondly, we have build upon the successful experiences of Games for Peace in the Middle East to get children and youth to interact by playing the very popular online game Minecraft. During so called “Play2Talk Sessions”, selected groups of youth from centers located on both sides of conflict divides are paired with each other to play Minecraft over the course of 3-4 sessions in December and January. Whilst playing, children and youth will meet their peers across dividing lines virtually and co-create their own peaceful world. In addition, in the framework of the above mentioned project two open “Play for Peace Weekends” were organized, involving more than 100 individuals across the region.