A game about war is nothing new. A game about war where you’re not shooting people - that’s worth a look.
Peacemaker is a simple set of choices where you play as either the Palestinian or Israeli President, and control everything from police and military forces to medical care. Your aim is to raise your political standing with your populace, and create a lasting political solution for the area.
You get a simple map of Israel, and as events take place - a suicide bomber, a shooting - hotspots light up. Real news footage and photos are used, and many of the events themselves are based in reality. If militias flare up, you can target them with assassination attempts, or try to negotiate. If the assassination attempt goes awry, you’re greeted with sickening results. All the photography in the game is from actual events - and atrocities.
Each action influences national and international opinion, and keeping both positive is enough to make your mouse hand as clammy as a wet flannel. Advisors are on hand to comment, but as they always seem to contradict each other they’re about as much use to the peace process as a chat with Mike Tyson.
As you learn to balance the needs and ideals of both parties, you achieve various milestones, and eventually “win” by reaching a stable compromise. You lose when your rating drops and the situation descends into chaos.
One concern with any game about such an intricate conflict is that it might dumb it down, but the information in Peacemaker goes well beyond a five-minute summary. Even the most avid broadsheet reader is guaranteed to learn something after 20 minutes of tense clicking.
For all it’s worthiness, it’s fairly dry in terms of action. It all comes down to making decisions and seeing how they affect your approval scores, but the connection with present-day events gives the experience extra resonance. This game is compulsory for anyone who wants to know more about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Peacemaker is available here for $20.