A board game for 2-4 players about perspectives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Student Project: Games for Change Course, MFA in Design for Social Innovation

Team: Haya Shaath, Meryl Natow

Role: Game design

Year: April 2014

Our main goal was to create more empathy between people from both sides, and to generate conversations about why people there make the daily decisions that they make and what can be done differently. We decided to focus on university students, preferably politically engaged and from Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds for  our target audience. The conversation in that landscape is usually pretty polarized around who is more wrong and how, rather than look at the human beings behind the flags and talk about why they make the choices they make – this is what we wanted to change.

We spent a lot of time unpacking our own narratives and play testing different mechanics. Our biggest challenge was designing an experience that would be thought provoking, not prescriptive – and avoid taking sides in the conflict as the designers of the game. This ended up dictating the incorporation of complex mechanics around scoring and penalties.

Our final version of the game had the players alternate in each turn between playing a Palestinian or an Israeli perspective and going through different scenarios taken from everyday life on each side, most of which involve decision making and then dealing with the implications. The game includes cooperative mechanics for making decisions together towards a shared fate. Most of the scenarios and outcomes promote cooperation and dialog but since life in the Middle East isn’t black and white, neither are all our scenarios.