According to Mark Saltzman in USA Today, video games can be a force for good. He writes:
"Video games are not just about reaching high scores or blowing off steam after a long day at work or school. The $10 billion interactive entertainment industry is also finding that games can be a tool for good — from healing your mind and body to solving world problems.
The latest positive pursuits in games range from burning calories and fighting cancer to tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
This is cool, because it shows that people are beginning to catch on to the amazing possibilities for teaching history and social sciences (or propagandizing, depending on how you look at it) that video games represent. Just imagine how much students will retain from an hour immersed in the 14th century, working on an open-ended quest set by the teacher. Most of what I know about westward migration in the 19th century is based on an hour or so playing Oregon Trail (at a Univax terminal during a gifted summer camp program at our local university, which makes me prehistoric).
I just love the idea of dramatizing the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yes, it's a multisided story and whomever developed the game gets to spin things their way, but the same can be said about textbooks. By the way, Peacemaker, the game in question, sure looks like it has a pro-Israeli spin.
Programs like Food Force can harness the power of all those creative little brains, too. Perhaps some teen out there has a better idea for food distribution in combat zones? Now he or she can get "on the ground," so to speak, see what obstacles really exist, and figure out ways around them. Cool, huh?