Playing Public Diplomacy Games

The U.S. State Department and the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication are co-sponsoring a "Reinventing Public Diplomacy Through Games Competition, which seeks to improve America's reputation abroad," reports Wired magazine. "Contestants must employ the principles of 'public diplomacy' while cooking up a video-game concept from scratch or creating an original 'mod' of an existing massively multiplayer online game." USC professor Douglas Thomas said, "Public diplomacy must move away from a model that has been dominated by notions of propaganda, so we are looking to virtual worlds and games as a space where people can build something productive and focus on the experience of learning, interaction and play." The U.S. government is also "licensing the technology" behind the America's Army game, which cost $12 million to produce. New versions will stress "cultural awareness, negotiation skills and adaptive thinking," or help soldiers "anticipate and counter terrorist and insurgent tactics."