World Policy Blog: Tell Me How This Ends
Hallie Golden writes about Truman’s new Iran simulation web game in the World Policy Blog:
You are now the president of the United States. Iran has enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. You’ve promised the American people that this will not be tolerated and that the country will take military action. The fate of the country is in your rather inexperienced hands. So, what do you do?
Do you “Work through diplomatic channels to assemble a multinational coalition?” Or do you “launch a unilateral U.S. strike?”
In the Truman National Security Project’s new choose-your-own-adventure computer game “Tell Me How This Ends,” this is the first decision players must make. From there, they open a Pandora’s box of chaos as they work through scenarios that eventually lead to one of six different outcomes that all carry serious consequences.
The game came out on the Project’s website on Friday, after being molded into a video game by their policy team over the course of three weeks. Its content is based on consultations with senior national security officials, who gave their best guesses as to what the likely outcomes of war with Iran could be.
According to the Project’s media relations director, Stephanie Dreyer, the game has already received 20,000 hits. The purpose of the game is to educate the public, she says. “If we are going to go to war with Iran, we need to understand the cost and consequence. The goal is to accurately simulate the choices we would be making.”
Video games can be an effective format to convey information, but they’re even more potent as an advocacy tool. Instead of feeding people news through articles or broadcasts, these games take people into the circumstances as active participants, which can make them truly care about the outcome. Games, of course, are not unbiased. The assumptions of the Truman Project shape the game, and the game’s name—a quote by General David Petraeus explaining how easy it is to start wars but how difficult it is to end them—reflects their particular bias.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Truman National Security Project or Educational Institute