Divide et Impera
Divide Et Impera is a game where you interact with a connected group of diverse people initially in good relations between them; by using potentially divisive speech in various forms you try to bring about division and hostility, finally separating the group in fractions. Through manipulation of a simulated small community, the gamer can be confronted with and made aware of actual mechanisms used to manipulate people in social media. Adolescents can learn this way to be more critical about the sources and content of information they find in social media.
Online hate speech often enters discourse in an apparently banal and everyday way: by commenting on current events or by posting jokes, you can realise how many similar messages you may have encountered on social media and how these messages could hurt people’s sensitivity. It is preferable to propose this game to the students within a wider educational setting and propose to participate in the activity as “data analysts”, as “observers” who try to understand the relationships between people, to become more aware of how these can be manipulated or nurtured positively, depending on the objective.
Example of itinerary can be found in the Hackathon games booklet which is available in all languages of the project here at this page.
Introduction to the game
You: A disingenuous political leader keen on using divisive speech to further your aims.
Your Goal: Splitting your community in half, by detaching at least 12 people from the interconnected grid of 5×5 people. Detached elements are grayed out.
Your Weapon: You have to choose potentially divisive contents to post online and a specific target of 3×3 people for each post. Each person in the grid has different individual features: nationality, immigration status, sexuality, religious creed. By choosing the person you want to make your target with your speech, you can damage and destroy social relationships within your community.
Your Allies: You have to inspire confidence in your political vision by using every trick of the trade. Be your followers’ leader and virtual friend. Tell them about your holidays, your family, your spouse, your best selfies. Post jokes and tongue-in-cheek subliminal messages. If you turn someone into a follower or a fanatic their portrait will display a colored hat and a badge.
Your Results: After each post, you will be shown a thumb up or a thumb down. Click on them to read your social-media analytics. You can also click on other user portraits to check how you did, how you affected their confidence and relationships in order to better plan your next social-media stunt.
The game has been designed and developed by Mauro Vanetti (independent game developer), and Pino Panzarella and Pietro Polsinelli from Open Lab, a small indie company creating applied and commercial games.
Game writer, designer and developer. Has 25 years of experience in software architecture and development. Works since 2012 on applied (a.k.a. educational) and commercial games.
Visual designer with a long experience in web and multimedia development for multi-platform user interfaces. Works on applied and commercial games as illustrator and UI artist.
Software developer, indie game creator and activist. Teaches Game Design and Game Production. Works mostly on non-game mobile and web applications.
Selected for thee 9th Wordplay Festival
Divide et Impera was selected as exhibitor at the ninth WordPlay Festival, an international video game event.
The event, which took place online on the 13th and 14th of November 2021, was organized by The Hand Eye Society, a Canadian non-profit association that supports video games created as a form of expression.
Hackathon Games Booklet
A guide in form of a booklet has also been developed. It contains 4 didactic proposals on the 4 Hackathon Video Games, that constitute an educational path for secondary schools, youth centers and associations.
The Hackathon Games Booklet is available in all languages of the project here in this page.