Peaceful Competition?


I selected this article because I personally do not think that I would ever equate peace to games. To me games are always a competition (not to say there are not peaceful competitions). This article sought to examine the use of games in exploring the achievement of peace. The ideas of using games compared to warfare have been around a lot longer than I would have initially thought.

According to Brynen and Milante,
“Simulations and games have long been used to examine war-fighting. Chess—one of the world’s oldest, and certainly most ubiquitous, games—has its origins some 1,500 years ago in India as a game of contemporary warfare”

chessIn this particular article the social dimensions are in some ways more multifaceted and complex than that of a typical war game. Chess is used as an example as an early war simulation, and as most people know modern computers have been able to consistently defeat the best chess champions. In many ways, despite its chaotic nature, once committed to a conflict war games take on a course with a limited set of outcomes and in many cases a very small group guiding the conflict. This is no different in simulated conflict.

game-peaceThe authors went on to discuss how games have been used to educate and train individuals engaging in battle. In a similar fashion, there are plans/games that could simulate how to help people in area’s experiencing conflict. This is a fascinating concept to me because rarely do people during times of war immediately ponder the actual after math of their destruction. Just this morning, I was reading an article about a zoo in a war torn country. The animals haven’t been fed in days and the government is letting them starve to death. I realize that this is probably not part of the save the human’s game plan above, but maybe it should be.

mario-peaceAs mentioned in the article however, simulated peacemaking requires an expansive set of circumstances and social dimensions. To successfully broker lasting peace is by nature a social enterprise, whereas conflict is by nature anti-social (on a large enough scale). In this sense, a truly representative peace making simulation would have to utilize a social dimension as a victory of peace is always a victory of many not one.

In this article I found it interesting that both sides of a potential zelda-peacenarrative were explored. In one sense, the authors make it clear that in real life peace making situations historical facts and context are of the utmost importance. In other words, to create a realistic and lasting peace one would have to be acutely aware of the specific challenges and obstacles such a deal would face. Yet on the other hand, it is pointed out that one can get lost in the specifics and lose track of focusing on the skill of peace building.

It would seem finding a balance between realism and development of a particular skill in an abstract sense would be the most effective way to simulate peacemaking.

games-for-peaceIn my opinion, to play off of what was mentioned in the article I would suggest not considering peacemaking or warring to be distinct. The author mentions that in peace making one may use the concepts of success and failure in battle the same way in fighting for peace. I would take this a step further, as the policy makers that declare war also are the ones who allow for peace. In this way it might be a more realistic simulation to take a holistic approach to the cyclical realities of war and peace.

In many cases a poorly brokered peace is just as bad as a hastily waged war and to understand the ramifications of one, both of these outcomes must be weighed together.


Works Cited

Peacebuilding with Games and Simulations Rex Brynen, Gary Milante Volume: 44 issue: 1, page(s): 27-35 Article first published online: September 12, 2012; Issue published: February 1, 2013 DOI: McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.