Do computer games enhance learning about conflicts? A cross-national inquiry into proximate and distant scenarios in Global Conflicts
Interactive conflict resolution and peace education have developed as two major lines of practice to tackle intractable inter-group conflicts. Recently, new media technologies such as social media, computer games, and online dialogue are added to the existing set of tools used for peace education. However, a debate is emerging as to how effective they are in motivating learning and teaching skills required for peace building. We take issue with this question and have conducted a study investigating the effect of different conflict contexts on student learning. We have designed a cross-national experimental study with Israeli-Jewish, Palestinian, and Guatemalan undergraduate students using the Israeli-Palestinian and Guatemalan scenarios in the computer game called "Global Conflicts." The learning effects of these scenarios were systematically analyzed using pre- and post-test questionnaires. The study indicated that Israeli-Jews and Palestinians acquired more knowledge from the Guatemalan game than Guatemalans acquired from the Israeli-Palestinian game. All participants acquired knowledge about proximate conflicts after playing games about these scenarios, and there were insignificant differences between the three national groups. Israeli-Jews and Palestinians playing the Israeli-Palestinian game changed their attitudes about this conflict, while Guatemalans playing the Guatemalan game did not change their attitudes about this case. All participants changed their attitudes about distant conflicts after playing games about these scenarios. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.