|The Basics of the World Peace Game
The World Peace Game is a structure of four 4 x 4 foot plexiglass layers stacked horizontally, one above the other. The game board matrix towers over most of the fourth-grade students who play. The layers include:
• undersea level with submarines, sunken civilization with valuable artifacts, and undersea mining;
• ground-and-sea level with hundreds of game pieces representing multiple militia, artillery, ships, tankers, natural resource depositories, nuclear and hydrogen power plants, mercenary troops, sacred native grounds, and disputed geographic territories and homelands;
• air-and-space level with big puffs of cotton for clouds that move as weather changes, territorial air spaces, and the four countries' air forces;
• outer-space layer with black holes, satellites, international space station, and asteroid mining.
There are four countries around the board. Each country comes with its own profile, beginning budget, and state of affairs, which are outlined in each country's secret dossier. Some countries are rich; some poor. Each has different commercial and military assets. The four nation teams of students name their countries. Each country has a cabinet that consists of prime minister, secretary of state, minister of defense, and a chief financial officer. The teacher chooses the prime ministers. Each prime minister chooses his or her own cabinet.
Other influential bodies in the game include a World Bank, arms dealers, and a United Nations. The weather goddess controls a random stock market, random weather, and makes official judgment calls as circumstances and issues arise. There is a covert saboteur who plays the dual role of publicly being helpful in supporting his or her team's efforts to solve problems, but also of secretly making moves to undermine everything in the game through misinformation, ambiguities, and irrelevancies. Knowing this confusion agent is there, but not knowing who it is, causes all of the game players to have to think more deeply about every interaction and to learn to corroborate and validate information from multiple sources. Outing the saboteur is one of the game crises that must be solved.
Game players are presented with a 13-page crisis document outlining 50 interlocking and interdependent crises and world dilemmas that are inspired by real-world situations, but veiled so that the students are working in an imaginative space where they must generate their own problem solving and critical thinking. The game crises include ethnic, religious, and minority tensions; chemical and nuclear spills, oil spills, water rights disputes, and environmental disasters; nuclear proliferation; breakaway republics, famine, endangered species, and climate change. The ultimate challenge is for students to understand through game play that if one thing changes, everything else changes because problems are complex, interdependent, and far-reaching in their consequences.
The game, which typically takes 16 to 20 hours of class time and is played over two to three months (or during an intensive one-week course in summer), is won when every nation's net asset value has risen beyond its starting point and all game crises have been solved.