Computer Games
for Social and Spiritual Development

The Hayut Foundation (a foundation dedicated to the re-Vision of Zionism) has undertaken the development of an experimental communications network to support innovative social and cultural initiatives. Development of computer games is seen as a "natural" area of such a network, both because the best dedicated users and participants are likely to be brilliant youth who spend much of their time by the computer, and because a computer network is the best means to move the computer programs which comprise the bulk of the distributed development work between makers, coordinators, reviewers and users.

A very (or impossibly) ambitious system of "redemptive games" are posted as exemplary description of attempted games. This description is given as a Sci-Fi story about a magically new way for bringing an Arab-Israeli peace, and in which a system of such games is used as an initiation curriculum for a secret Messianic movement (called "the HEJERA", short for "the Heavenly Jerusalem Agency"). In this context the games are the "drill sessions" in an esoteric Biblical adventure that recreates the journey of Abraham and his sons and associates to Mount Moriah. The game is open and the winner(s) will enter the Heavenly (or "New") Jerusalem and may determine the future spiritual and religious path for mankind.

The games system described in the story is a complex of four dozen games within which a sequence of twelve game-acts has to be followed. There are four distinct goals which are four different views of the Redemption (Alchemical, Kabbalistic, and of the Old and New Testaments) drawing four distinct "redemptive scenarios". The game rules prescribe one sequence to the four players, leading to a competitive situation where players are likely to press the others to play their games as often as possible. But a cooperation that brings the playing of a hybrid game would give increased pay.

Such combinations of competition and cooperation are found in all levels of the game, from the selection and modification of games down to specific tasks in each game. The inherent biases of the games are for building understandings and for other "redeeming social values", but these would be implicit, embedded into some of the games procedures. The names of the main protagonists - Isaac and Ishmael - for example, actually mean laughter and listening, and these are taken in the games as behaviors that combine to produce understandings and thus yields extra payoffs in the games.

The games given in the examples are illustrations to induce participants in the project to suggest alternatives and simpler, more realistic games for the commercial and educational markets.

The transactions are supposed to include discussions about goals and game procedures that embody them, and technical exchanges of program listings, graphic pages (IFF for Amiga and ANSI for PCs) and animation sequences for illustrations as well as peer reviews and "ideas exchange" and project directives. Of special interest to the Hayut Foundation is an experiment in fair project economics where each participant will get shares in project earnings in relation to worth of his/her inputs as assessed by peer review.

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