Kibbutz: Settlers of Palestine
Founded in 1910, the kibbutz movement was a radical experiment in direct democracy and communal economics as well as a microcosm of the complex history of the state of Israel. Kibbutz: The Settlers of Palestine is an online game designed to complement a nonfiction narrative about the century-long rise and decline of the kibbutz: Love & Rockets: Chasing Utopia in a Divided Israel (ECW Press, Spring 2016). This text-based simulation game allows players to act as a leader of a communal settlement by making decisions critical to the growth and survival of a fictional kibbutz. Questions are divided into issues, opportunities and threats internal and external to the kibbutz, and progress decade by decade to map out key eras within the Zionist settlement of Palestine and the subsequent expansion of the state of Israel. The long-term outcomes of all decisions are obscured, so players must balance their own moral and political stances with the needs of fellow kibbutzniks and the over-arching ideology of the movement to chart a path that best serves their community. Metrics such as kibbutz population, economy, solidarity and reputation are tracked as a measure of player performance. Players are rewarded with informational text and archival images for reaching milestones, which contextualize the history (and controversies) of Israel and the kibbutz movement. In this game demo, the author and designer will discuss the background of games about Israel/Palestine and the challenges of creating a morally ambiguous text-based interactive historical simulation while recognizing the limitations of its inherent procedural rhetoric.