Peace Park now open for business in GeorgiaApr 8, 2015
Abkhaz and Georgian teenagers are finding out that working together can lead to win-win situations through a new computer game called "Peace Park".
On 1 April 2015, the non-governmental organization, “Elva Community Engagement” presented this new online space for youth divided by conflict.
According to Elva’s Director of Partnerships, Mark van Embden Andres, “The idea behind Peace Park is that we can use games to teach children, even our youngest ones, basic conflict resolution skills. I think we’ve succeeded rather well.”
The game was officially introduced to the public at Europe House by Niels Scott, UNDP in Georgia Resident Representative, and Boris Iarochevitch, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia. The game is part of a broader joint initiative from UNDP and the EU which creates a space for testing new approaches to confidence building amongst Abkhaz, Georgian and Ossetian communities.
In addressing the crowd – government representatives, civil society and international organizations, as well as the young gamers - Scott remarked:
“Conflict resolution is a long process. It is a combination of good will, patience and well-thought consecutive actions that lead to achievement in the long run. Investment in young generation is the way to break a vicious circle of prejudice, hatred and ignorance.”
Peace Park is a virtual landscape where players must work together to ensure the stay of park visitors is happy and peaceful. It was developed by Georgian videogame developers, in close consultation with local and international experts in conflict resolution and online gaming.
It was subsequently tested in sessions for young people organised in Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi, Gali, Sukhumi, and Ochamchire.
One of the experts behind the game was renowned designer Mark Rein-Hagen, an American living in Tbilisi. "Most of my games are too complex and mature for my kids to play,” says Rein-Hagen. “It’s really gratifying to have made a game they can not only play, but are obsessed with."
His children seem to concur. His daughter Giselle, age 8, noted “it’s really pretty so you want to make sure everyone is happy when you are playing the game."
Sandro Rein-Hagen, age 5, agrees: "It is really hard later on, but it doesn't feel hard because you are having so much fun."
Rein-Hagen continued: "I’m really proud to have made a game that can not only make a difference, but very few players will realize was made to make a difference."
The game is can be accessed and downloaded for free at: http://peacepark.elva.org/Contact information