Some recent items that may be of interest to PAXsims readers on serious games and conflict simulations:
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Games for Change has a brief listing of games (in production or development) that examine war away from the battlefield:
Countless games have thrown players into heated warzones, whether as a soldier holding a gun ready to fire or an almighty commander who oversees the entire battlefield, moving units around.
What’s less examined in games is what’s happening off the battlefield and the consequences of violence. Recently, however, we see more developers who are examining war’s impact on civilians. We’ve made a list of games that we’re looking forward to and a list of thought-provoking titles to play right now.
Some of those mentioned in the short piece have been discussed before at PAXsims, including PeaceMaker and This War of Mine.
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The current conflict in Gaza spurred the development of several games on the theme. According to Time:
In Bomb Gaza, a game about doing precisely what its peremptory title commands, you play as the Israeli Air Force, tapping a touchscreen to pour red-nosed bombs into a 2D multi-level landscape filled with cartoonish people wearing white robes and clutching children — meant to signify civilians — as well as others draped in black, clutching rifles, touting greenish headbands and grinning maniacally. The goal is to hit those black-garbed militants — presumably members of Palestinian militant group Hamas — while avoiding the white-clad civilians.
At some point in the past 24 hours, Google removed Bomb Gaza from its Android Play store (the game was released on July 29). It’s not clear why. Google’s only officially saying what companies like it so often say when handed political hot potatoes: that it doesn’t comment on specific apps, but that it removes ones from its store that violate its policies….
It’s unclear which of Google’s policies Bomb Gaza might have infringed, but in Google’s Developer Program Policies document, it notes under a subsection titled Violence and Bullying that “Depictions of gratuitous violence are not allowed,” and that “Apps should not contain materials that threaten, harass or bully other users.” Under another titled Hate Speech, Google writes “We don’t allow content advocating against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.”
Bomb Gaza isn’t the only Gaza-centric game Google’s removed: another, dubbed Gaza Assault: Code Red is about dropping bombs on Palestinians using Israeli drones. Its designers describe the game as “[bringing] you to the forefront of the middle-east conflict, in correlation to ongoing real world events.” It was also just yanked, as was another titled Whack the Hamas, in which players have to target Hamas members as they pop out of tunnels.
Politically-themed games about touchy current issues have been around for years, from depictions of deadly international situations like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to others modeled on flashpoints like school shootings. In late 2008, a game called Raid Gaza!appeared around the time Israel was carrying out “Operation Cast Lead,” a conflict that left 13 Israelis and some 1,400 Palestinians dead. In that title, you’re tasked with killing as many Palestinians as you can in three minutes, and actually afforded bonuses for hitting civilian targets, all while listening to a version of the Carpenter’s saccharine “Close to You.”
In the past, quick browser or app games have developed for the purpose of sitar or political commentary—as is immediately evident if you play Raid Gaza!. In this case, however, it seems to have simply been a case of game developers cashing in on the widespread destruction in Gaza to create a quick “how many Hamas militants can you kill” game.
There was also at least one Arabic game that put the player in the role of Hamas. According to the BBC:
The US-based firm has now removed Rocket Pride by Best Arabic Games, in which players attempt to outmaneuver Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system, from its Google Play app store.
It also deleted Iron Dome by Gamytech, which challenged players to “intercept the rockets launched by Hamas”.
Other titles that do not name the “enemy” remain online.
You’ll find further discussion of this phenomenon at Slate, The Guardian, and Haaretz.
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The Connections Australia website has been updated with a general conference program and registration information. The conference will be held on 8-9 December 2014 oat the University of Melbourne.
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Additional details have been announced for the 2014-15 Disaster and Humanitarian Response Program at McGill University (October 2014-April 2015). The program includes a field exercise to be held in May 2015.
2014-2015 Disaster and Humanitarian Response Program
Beginning in October 2014, the Humanitarian Studies Initiative of McGill University will be once more offering its innovative and multi-disciplinary humanitarian training program that advances and improves the quality of humanitarian work and practice to improve the lives of people most affected by war and disaster around the world.
The 2014-2015 Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program offers an evidence-based approach on the globally-recognized core humanitarian competencies that are essential for anyone involved in disaster response and/or humanitarian assistance. This course is specifically designed for people with little or no prior experience in emergency settings who wish to undertake a career in the humanitarian sector. Participants will learn about the background and context of humanitarian emergencies, international humanitarian law, doctrines, and operating procedures of in many technical areas. Instructed by a community of humanitarians and Faculty from around the globe, the program also offers participants an occasion to join an exciting network of humanitarians.
In-Classroom training is on a weekly basis from October 2014 till April 2015.
The 3-day field-based disaster simulation exercise will be held in May 2015.
The course will take place in Montreal at the Department of Family Medicine
Interested applicants can apply directly on our webpage or send their enquiries to the Program Manager: Melanie Coutu.