September 21, 2015
Level 1: Coming Up with a Winning Concept
“And now, the winners of the PEACEapp awards, a game design challenge hosted by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the UN Development Programme! We’d like to invite up Marianne Perez de Fransius, representing the Peace Superheroes,” announced Rodrigo Davies, convener and organizer of the Build Peace 2015 conference. As Marianne made her way to the stage, she nodded to some fellow participants who she’d already befriended at the conference–her networking superpower was fully activated. She knew that some of these people would likely inform the future of the Peace Superheroes Digital Game. But she also remembered the steps that contributed to getting her all the way to this conference in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus.
The Peace Superheroes really got started two years ago when Marianne bumped into peace trainer extraordinaire Meg Villanueva at the Muslim-Unitarian wedding of a mutual friend in upstate New York. Marianne was working on fictionalizing the stories she’d collected through Peace is Sexy and turning them into a comic book series. She knew she needed a team of real life superheroes to make the comic book project happen and Meg would be perfect. They also enrolled two others onto the team, but they got called to other missions… perhaps not feeling particularly inspired after a mediocre crowd-funding campaign.
Adding to the challenges were that Marianne was moving from Sweden to Mozambique with her newborn son and her husband and Meg was based in Barcelona and the Peace Superheroes were (and still are!) bootstrapping it. But these challenges didn’t daunt Sabrina Patrick-Urrutia who joined the Peace Superheroes team in January 2014, while she was still living in Australia, but getting ready to move to the San Francisco Bay Area where she now lives.
Despite being in multiple time zones and on different continents and with busy schedules, the Peace Superheroes team really gelled together while performing great feats of calendar synchronization and totally virtual collaboration.
After nearly a year of spinning wheels in the air with the Peace Superheroes comic book, Sabrina pushed the team to re-iterate the form of the Peace Superheroes, leading them through a creative ideation process in which they decided to pursue a digital game instead.
As soon as project took this new direction, it immediately gained traction. Parents showed much more interest in a digital game than a comic book and funding opportunities magically appeared. Peacebuilders have been excited about this new technology and even game industry professionals have recognized the need for fun games that teach peacebuilding and conflict transformation skills.
So Marianne, Meg and Sabrina set out on a quest to learn about game design. Fortunately the PEACEapp award they won included mentoring from Games for Change. Emily Treat and Andrea Morales led the Peace Superheroes through an 8-step process to solidify the game concept–reflecting on everything from the players’ technological habits to product distribution channels. They were able to pull together a game concept document just in time for the Build Peace conference which Marianne used as the basis for her lab-style presentation and as talking points for the Peace Superheroes Digital Game stand at the Tech Fair.
As our Peace Superheroes team, Marianne, Meg and Sabrina approach the end of Level 1, Coming up with a Winning Concept, they know that they have to set themselves up well now in order to succeed at Level 2, Building a Game Prototype. The Peace Superheroes have already been in touch with 3 teams that have expressed interest in building a prototype (for free!). This is an opportunity to build alliances which will be key in future levels. They also know that they need to seriously power up for the next few levels and so have been looking for that treasure chest full of gold coins.
If you want to help the Peace Superheroes team win at designing a fun and covertly educational conflict transformation digital game, you can do that by:
- Linking the Peace Superheroes team to game designers interested in teaching kids positive behaviors
- Introducing us to beta-testers (9-11 year olds who would be willing to give us their thoughts on our prototype)
- Helping the Peace Superheroes find the treasure chest full of gold coins.
All you need to do is reply to this email and let us know.
The Peace SuperHeroes Team – Marianne, Meg and Sabrina