7.6

PEOPLE POWER: THE GAME OF CIVIL RESISTANCE

One thing that defense/war departments and military strategists do quite well is game out different scenarios so they can try out various plans and actions in the simulation so that they might eventually learn what the best course of action is to take in real life.

Since nonviolent action involves much of the same strategizing, planning, and disciplined training that is required for military action, why not game out scenarios and try out different nonviolent strategies and learn how to win that way?  This is the goal of the turn-based strategy game, People Power: The Game of Civil Resistance.  The game was produced by the same company that made the film, A Force More Powerful, and it is designed to help activists and scholars better understand the various dynamics at play when waging a civil resistance struggle, provide an interactive way to analyze various kinds of conflicts and then try out different strategies to emerge victorious in those conflicts using nonviolent actions.  Voice of America did a short segment on how the game emerged and how its being used around the world.

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Click here for instruction on how to download the game for free.  The video below provides an overview of the theories and principles that support the game and a tutorial on how to navigate and understand the game’s interface along with some ideas on how to start playing.  If you are familiar with computer games, you can jump right in start playing.  However, if you feel like you need a tutorial, I would recommend watching the entire video below, or at least jumping to 00:13:57 in the film.

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Reflection Question: Immerse yourself in People Power: The Game of Civil Resistance for at least 20 minutes.  What was this experience like? What knowledge, skills, or perspectives on nonviolent resistance did you gain, if any, by playing the game?  For what kinds of learners would this game be appropriate or effective?

Additional Resources:

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8 thoughts on “7.6

  1. I also had a hard time downloading the game (in fact it’s been in the background of my computer for a day now trying to download…) but i was able to watch the tutorial and the video about it as well as read others’ comments. Sounds like it is a great learning tool that takes some time to get into and understand- probably similarly to non-violent action! I am curious to see what age group this would be most appropriate for and if it is engaging enough from the beginning to get young adults into and away from all of the terribly violent video games that exist!

  2. I had a similar experience to Leah and Katie – there was so much going on that I needed a lot more time to really understand what I should be doing. I found myself just looking at the “suggested actions” after awhile and just going with that (which is probably not the best way to simulate doing anything.) I do like the idea of this game though.

  3. I had a similar reaction to Leah. This game is so in-depth it takes many more than 20 minutes to figure anything out. I watched the video and tried a few things but they didn’t seem to have any effect on the newspaper reports. Regardless of my minimal experience, I think it’s a really cool resource based on what I saw from the video. I would say this is most appropriate to late high school and college students who maybe have a month or more to go through a scenario so that not only can they learn how to play the game, but can have time to research the characters and develop a strategy. It would be interesting to have all the students play the same scenario and then have them compare their strategies, maybe drawing on real world examples.

  4. I also had a hard time downloading the game. 😦 But I really like the idea of a game as a tool to teach civil disobedience, nonviolence, and protest strategy. Teach people the complexities of nonviolent strategy can help build appreciation for the process and the outcomes.

  5. Cannot download Adobe to access the game, but I have looked at this before for my IR research class. I think its a great idea! The Serbian revolution is an exciting setting for a video game and the Oregon Trail-esque plot line is appealing.

  6. The first thing I realized after playing the game for 30 minutes was that I needed much more time in order to understand the game and the situation and feel comfortable making decisions and organizing movements. I realized how much time in preparations nonviolent resistance requires. You need to have such an informed understanding of the situation and scenario, and this takes a lot of research on the cultural, historical, and political elements of the conflict. The game puts into perspective how nonviolent resistance is a strategic, tactical process that requires much planning and research on the part of the organizers. I learned that in planning a course of action it is very beneficial to have informants who specialize in certain areas so that one can gain knowledge from various sources in order to make the most informed decision. I’m eager to finish my “planning” stages of the game and proceed to making tactical decisions.

    I think this game is very effective for college-level students or anyone interested in learning more about nonviolent resistance. As mentioned on the website, I think it would be very beneficial to translate the game into different language to make it available to users from around the world. Many people could benefit from the knowledge and skills learned during this training game.

  7. I was unable to access the game from my IPad and thus unable to immerse myself in the game for 20 minutes. However, I did watch the entire Webinars, and got a sense during the Question/Answer session that the participants saw this as a highly complex “serious” game which most likely would take a long time, without necessarily resulting in a win. Indeed, the term “game” may be a misnomer for a learning by doing simulation. Despite the caution during the Webinars about the seriousness of the game, as the different parts were explained, it became evident that this was a teaching/learning tool for serious practitioners of nonviolent resistance.

    Although I did not get the opportunity to play, I can see from the demonstrations that students will be exposed to: strategy development; constituency building; tactics and tactical planning: identifying the pillars of power and developing tactics and strategies to attack them in a nonviolent manner; the power of building coalitions, and bottom up organizing, and the necessity of information and utilizing it strategically to achieve a common goal.

    I think this game is a wonderful learning and instructional tool for graduate school.

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