- Commercially released serious game Peacemaker, which simulates the Israel-Palestine conflict, seems to have been getting a new round of publicity as of late, and over at Plush Apocalypse, Borut Pfeifer has made an extremely detailed post critiquing the game, with a lot of interesting insight.

He particularly notes that the game is, well, realistically difficult: "On my playthroughs I typically get ousted by lack of public support, even if I’m making progress towards peace or world opinion of me is high. The game does a great job of pointing out how overconstrained the problem is. As Israeli leader you can have people signing petitions to take down security walls, but the army may just refuse to do it. Settlers may ignore your order to freeze construction of settlements. You can spend money on domestic social or economic initiatives, but that earns the criticism of the hawkish parts of the government."

But Pfeifer seems to be saying, in some ways, that a realistic portrayal makes for a depressing, if well-crafted game: "So naturally, while you the game leaves you with a picture of how screwed the situation is, it also highlights the hopelessness of it. I mean, you already feel powerless as a regular person to do anything, but when most of your choices as a leader don’t really do anything either, you realize both leaders are also sort of powerless to do anything effective about it."

[Oh, and here's an interesting aside on the official Peacemaker blog, after the creators received a letter from the Nobel Foundation, which "...was a “warning/cease and desist letter” for using the Nobel medal as part of our game. As it turns out - the Nobel foundation owns trademark registrations and the letter claims that we “take unfair advantage of their intellectual property rights, in a way that is detrimental to the distinctive and repute of this trademark”." They had to remove the reference, sadly.]