Software Review: Palestine

If the name of this game - without any mention of Israel - doesn't put you off, its superficiality undoubtedly will.

Palestine game 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Palestine game 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If the name of this game - without any mention of Israel - doesn't put you off, its superficiality undoubtedly will. Three years ago, the founders of a very small Danish software company chose to "make a different kind" of computer game. "We all had a dream about making an intellectually stimulating game based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," they said in 2005. The result was this pathetic product, which contributes nothing to understanding the intractable Arab-Israeli problem. It is far below the level of Impact Games' Peacemaker, released last year, that puts gamers into the shoes of an Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian Authority president and awards the "Nobel Peace Prize" to those who "end" the conflict. In Palestine, you are not a novice national leader but a still-wet-behind-the-ears newspaper reporter whose job is to speak to "informants," collect up to five quotes apiece and then compose an article for a paper. Choose to be either the fictional Hannah Weissman, a depressed, Jewish, divorced mother who comes to Jerusalem to work as a journalist and escape her problems, or Diwan Massoud, who has graduated from traffic reporter at a local New York paper to Middle East correspondent. Whichever persona you choose, you are in Jerusalem to "cover" events for any of three local newspapers: The Israeli Post (at least Serious Games didn't take the name of this paper), Palestine Today and Europe's Global News. The graphics are awful, and "Jerusalem" doesn't look very much like the city I have called home for 35 years. To find your way around "Palestine," check the irrelevant maps of the 1947 UN partition plan or the Gaza Strip in 2000. You are "embedded" in a military raid by the IDF in collaboration with the PA on a house in Abu Dis; sent to a checkpoint to control weapons smuggling by Palestinians; see the effects of settlements on Palestinians and Jews; and assigned to "investigate the concept of martyrdom" (that is, suicide bombers). All your efforts are meaningless. If you really want to learn about the Arab-Israeli crisis, come and spend at least a few weeks in Jerusalem. Global Conflicts: Palestine, a DVD-ROM in English by Serious Games Interactive in Copenhagen ( for PC or Mac G4, for ages 12 and up, £20 to £30 via the Web site. Rating: *