Gamers, Put Down Your Weapons
Two months ago, gameLab CEO Eric Zimmerman gave the three designers an assignment: to come up with a game based loosely on the Nobel Peace Prize. Each participant had 10 minutes to present the game idea, which was inspired by the greater emphasis of serious games at the GDC, and meant to be an homage / spoof of the genre.
Presenting to a packed room, Smith, known for his work on Deus Ex, listed his rejected concepts, including "Bono's Africa", a strategy game where you would save Africa, and a Counterstrike level inspired by a photo of the Nobel Institute in Oslo.
He decided to go with a game called "Peace Bomb" which is intended for a Web-enhanced Nintendo DS. "In the game, [groups of players] promote peaceful insurgency projects," with the ultimate goal of embarrassing a "militaristic corporate government." Players could also use the stylus to collect signatures on petitions.
Cliff Bleszinski, who's currently working on Epic's Gears of War for Xbox 360, presented his rejected games, one of which was called "Sim Prison". He also suggested that an addictive puzzle game like Zuma could pacify the entire world.
The game that he chose to present was titled "Empathy." Explaining the game's premise, he said, "You live in a nation that is on the brink of war... The goal is to keep your family intact and alive." The game would have players scavenging for resources in an effort to keep their family together.
Bleszinski said the game would "put a very human face on the civilians caught in a war." He suggested that a commander-in-chief would have to play a game like this before entering into a war to see what the conflict would look like through the eyes of a civilian. He also said that the score of the commander could be publicized.
Namco's Takahashi, who is responsible for Katamari Damacy, didn't have a game to present, rather an idea accompanied by a cartooney slideshow and fun presentation.
"This may sound like a cliche," he said, "but I still believe we can come closer to world peace if everybody believes in love — the love of videogames."
Smith ended up winning the challenge for Peace Bomb, and was awarded by Spore-creator Will Wright, who won the contest the first two years, but didn't participate this time around.