App review by Chad Sansing, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2014
PeaceMaker: Israeli Palestinian Conflict
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PeaceMaker: Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Compelling test of kids' empathy and problem-solving skills

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 1 review
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Grades
9–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Social Studies, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Challenging, engaging, and relevant gameplay

Cons: Feels a bit dated and repetitive

Bottom Line: It'll give students an impactful lesson on the complexity of human conflict, and the ongoing tensions in the Middle East that emphasizes empathy and the delicate nature of diplomacy.

Teachers can use Peacemaker to teach 20th century geography, history, and current events focused on the relationship between Israel, Palestine, the surrounding countries, and their political partners around the world. Playing the game should help build students' empathy and gives students an opportunity to test hypotheses about what kind of government actions bring about peace or sow violence. With its closeness to real-life events, Peacemaker supports research and expository -- or persuasive -- writing projects. These projects could get students to dig into the most up-to-date information on Israel, Palestine, and their neighbors and other opponents and allies, or to take a historical approach and argue about the most significant events or causes/effects for/of specific conflicts or periods of peace. For students participating in mock United Nations or debate -- whether as a unit or in a club or team -- Peacemaker could provide some sound research and perspective to help craft arguments.

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Peacemaker is a turn-based simulation game about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Players can choose to lead either society, and must work to curb violence and find a path to peace for both Israel and Palestine. Each turn, players get to implement one diplomatic, military, or political initiative and then see how that decision plays out. Some initiatives fail because stakeholders don't believe it's sincere or that there's enough stability for the plans to work. Occasionally (and sometimes triggered by player actions) positive and negative events pop up on the world map and must be tackled. To be successful, players must balance the competing wants and needs of his/her people and those on the other side as well as provide enough security for cooperation to take root, and continually mitigate violence; think Civilization meets The World Peace Game with just a few tense turns to go before catastrophe.

Peacemaker is a great resource for teaching kids about the Israel-Palestine conflict. It uses real-world issues and archival footage of real events to create a slightly dated but still compelling game for kids to explore. Moreover, the compromise, empathy, and problem-solving skills needed to successfully bring about less violence and more peace should stick with players long after they quit Peacemaker. Failing at peace is so frustrating and saddening that players will remember what worked to bring their virtual societies peace. The decisions students have to make -- like whether to order a missile strike or other attack -- are challenging and hard to forget. And it's rewarding to achieve peace through more constructive measures like cooperating on security, investing in infrastructure, and rebooting trade.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Offers a compelling, challenging, and sometimes frustrating experience for players seeking peace between Israel and Palestine.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

The decision-making, compromise, and sacrifice necessary to "win" the game help teach resiliency, empathy. and problem-solving.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

A fairly thorough tutorial takes covers most of the controls, but when it comes to finding the path to peace, players only have competing approval ratings and polls to guide them.


Common Sense reviewer
Chad Sansing Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Elizabeth H. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Arcadia High School
Phoenix, United States
Gives a view of how complicated the peace process is but seems to drag on at points with the same responses over and over.
I like that as you play you get to either be the leader of Israel or Palestine and you are trying to bring peace to the area. The process is not quick and easy and neither is the game. Players choose between difficulty levels before starting to play. During game play the player has the choice between many actions both positive and negative that affect your score. Over time you can see how your actions are being seen by your own people, the opposition, and the world. The downsides are that after awhile y ...
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