NPR's Studio 360 last week on games includes this segment on game training for warfighters, "Iraq and the Xbox" (realaudio link). Reporter Rachel McCarthy covers the development of Full Spectrum Warrior and another project called "Dark Hunt" at the Institute for Creative Technologies, as well as the Institute for Defense Analyses' large-scale urban combat simulation Urban Resolve.
In the New York Times, Clive Thompson's article "Saving the World, One Video Game at a Time" looks at the current interest in serious games, including games like Peacemaker, the UN's Food Force, and a game of nonviolent conflict resolution called A Force More Powerful, with quotes from Ian Bogost, Gonzalo Frasca, Henry Jenkins and others.
Thompson's bit on Peacemaker, a game based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Video games, serious-games advocates say, also possess a persuasive element that is missing from books or movies: They let the player become a different person (at least for an hour or two), and see the world from a new perspective. When Mr. Burak first showed Peacemaker to Israelis and Palestinians, he found that they were most interested in playing as their own “side.” But when he pushed them to switch positions they developed a more nuanced sense of why the other side acted as it did. In Qatar several people told him that “they kind of understood more the pressures the Israeli prime minister has.”
Not everyone agrees with Peacemaker’s basic assumption: that both Palestinians and Israelis want peace. I discovered I could get to a ceasefire by removing settlements while assassinating Hamas militants, a strategy I doubt Israeli hawks would approve of. Mr. Burak said Israeli players complained about the bulldozing of Arab villages; Palestinians felt the game ought to more clearly reward the use of “subtle” measures. Still, he said, Peacemaker (which was designed before Hamas’s electoral victory or the recent Mideast eruption) inspires an unusual kind of debate: an argument about how rule changes can affect society. “That sort of complex thing is precisely what you can do with a game,” Mr. Burak said.