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This month Germany marks the first anniversary of Angela Merkel’s surprisingly bold decision to open the borders to refugees, especially from Syria. The move was controversial and set in motion a series of events which has culminated in what is probably the most important social change to hit Europe since the Second World War.  A negotiation challenge indeed!

But is there also capacity for games and play here, in what is clearly a very serious, even desperate humanitarian crisis? Three organizations that we have been in conversation with on the grant-giving side of Rational Games have developed some creative ideas on how to help resolve this particular kind of conflict through games and play:

  1. Berlin-based SINGA Deutschland ( is a very new project initiated last year by founders Luisa Seiler and Vinzenz Himmighofen (both RGI seminar graduates) to provide a space of co-creation in Berlin for newcomers and locals. From an initial network of  German “living room” invitations to a fairly elaborate professional one-on-one mentoring program to more advanced initiatives in its “project incubator”, the organization is increasingly venturing into playful fields like improvisational theater to create spaces in which newcomers and locals can work together to help make German society more inclusive.

  2. Nela Bartsch and Daphna Czernobilsky established the “Theater for Tolerance” project in 2010 to bring German and Israeli high school youth together for an intensive ten day camp where they create, write and perform an original play around the theme of tolerance, racism and prejudice.  We are now in discussions with them to extend this idea to the  German refugee community. Truly trendsetting.

  3. In the war region itself. Tarek Alsaleh has already made a name for himself with his Capoeira4Refugees projects, conducted inside and outside refugee camps so that refugees from enemy territories learn and enjoy this fascinating mix between a fight and a dance (see my paper for more thoughts on this). The learning is perhaps the deepest and most physical here.

Separately, RGI is working on publishing a new six-party negotiation simulation built around the political negotiations to find a macroeconomic solution to the crisis.

Stay tuned for this and other initiatives on our webpage.  Ideas and inputs welcome!

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