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

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Compelling test of kids' empathy and problem-solving skills

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 Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

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

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

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

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

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

Teacher Reviews

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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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