Peace Is Not a Game

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Antiwargame, a free online game by the San Francisco-based futurefarmers collective, has a simple premise: stay president of the U.S.A. while the country is in crisis after a terrorist attack. The president’s tasks require giving orders to troops and setting the budget, which is divided into three sectors: military and business, foreign aid, and social spending. Immediate recognitions, like the directly proportional relationship between military spending and popularity, eventually lead to more confounding questions: is there anything the troops can do besides get promoted or do drugs? how can regular citizens become politically relevant without becoming soldiers? why do both sides lose during war? The ease of quickly understanding the game’s surface mechanics sets the stage for rich intellectual payoff and quandary upon extended play. Beginning, as it does, from a perspective in which confrontation is inevitable and urgent, this critique of war evolves into insights that are atypical and meditative. - Andrew Choate