Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Pax Warrior

Here’s some info on Pax Warrior, further to our gaming discussion today. Note it’s a Canadian project.

Following text excerpted from www.worldischanging.com

Pax Warrior | Jamais Cascio

Scenarios don’t have to be about the future. We can learn from the examination of past experiences, exploring how alternative options may have played out. These are often referred to as “counter-factual” exercises, as they are intended to play out in ways contrary to historical fact, giving participants insights into both how decisions are made and the complexity of events. Pax Warrior, a computer simulation-documentary on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is designed to be just this sort of counter-factual exercise. In Pax Warrior, the player is given the role of a UN Peacekeeping commander in Rwanda, and is asked to make a series of increasingly-difficult decisions about how to respond to evidence that something awful is taking place.

There isn’t an obvious “right answer” in the simulation; seemingly-correct choices can have unforeseen (yet utterly plausible) results, as the text in the image here shows. The goal isn’t necessarily to stop the genocide (although that would obviously be an ideal outcome), it’s to educate players about the complexity of managing humanitarian situations. A Canadian team began working on the project in 2002 in coordination with academic and activist specialists on human rights and genocide, and a beta version of the software is now available.

[...] Read full article

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Pax Warrior was built with the notion that the best and most useful learning experiences are those that motivate and engage us.

Design parameters:

The initial market for Pax Warrior will be the 14-24 years old demographic comprised of students in high school and early university. Based on our testing with this group a number of design decisions around issues of functionality and aesthetic have been made.

The design is also affected by this modules’ intended deployment over low broadband networks [56k+]. File size — network use — is at a premium, and every message must be put forward with a radical economy of means.

Finally the subject matter of Pax Warrior — the UN mission in Rwanda — has its own responsibilities. Making an “Interactive Documentary” that has experiential simulation as one of its bases and collaborative learning as another, while powerful, needs some careful handling with regards to the delineation between these modes. Interactors need to know if they are in the fictive environment – a first person experience or in a third person environment such as the research area where the information has the documentary authority of history. While questioning information clearly adds to one’s media literacy, issues of authentication and veracity present special challenges to the user experience design.

Pax has taken a number of creative strategies in the design and telling of the story that allow a conscientious construction of this ground breaking educational new media form — “Interactive Documentary”.

Curriculum applications:
This unique pedagogical tool presents an opportunity to change the way history, peacekeeping, genocide and human rights are taught – a way that demands critical thinking about ethical issues while engaging students with a compelling combination of history and new media simulation.

Press and Pax Warrior in the news
Pax Warrior Walkthrough

Thu, October 20 2005 » Future Cinema, games