Common Ground

  • Common Ground is a game about perspectives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I created with my classmates Haya Shaath, a Palestinian living in Saudi Arabia, and Meryl Natow, a Jewish American. It was our final project for the Designing Games for Change class, taught by Asi Burak and Naomi Clark.
  • We started by just wanting to work together, but it was pretty much a no brainer to decide on the conflict in the Middle East for a topic, seeing as we had been talking a lot about it amongst ourselves since we pretty much first met. Our personal narratives and experiences were the inspiration for the game. 
  • Common Ground is a board game for 2-4 players, where the players alternate in each turn between playing a Palestinian or an Israeli perspective - and go through different scenarios taken from everyday life of each nationality that are related to the conflict, most of which involve decision making (and then dealing with the implications). There are also some cooperative mechanics around players making decisions together and having a shared fate. Most of the scenarios and outcomes promote cooperation and dialog but since life in the Middle East isn't black and white, neither are all our scenarios. Our main goal was to create more empathy between people from both sides, and to generate conversations about why people there make the daily decisions that they make and what can be done differently. We looked at university students, preferabley politically engaged and from Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds, for our target audience. The conversation in that landscape is usually pretty polarized around who is more wrong and how, rather than look at the human beings behind the flags and talk about why they make the choices they make - this is what we wanted to change.