These projects are written differently from my ordinary in-hobby games. Each is a non-fiction book about a particular historical situation, and each includes, but is not limited to, a game or at least game-like activity that creates fiction in that situation.
Spione (German for “spies”) concerns the espionage riddling divided Berlin throughout the Cold War. The book was released in 2006 and I have a dedicated website for it as well, Spione: Story Now in Cold War Berlin.
Shahida (Arabic for “witness”) concerns the Lebanese civil war, 1975-1990. I’ve brought the game part past the major hump of playtesting and am currently turning the outlined and drafted main text into (I hope) readable prose.
I chose the situations to focus on based on the following criteria.
1. The events were highly consequential for political discourse world-wide, to the extent that terms and perceived confrontations literally became the vocabulary for dealing with any number of later, widely-dispersed events. The Cold War as widely perceived was effectively born in terms of perception and discussion in Berlin, 1945-1952. The War on Terror, again as widely perceived or at least advertised, was effectively born in the Lebanese Civil War, especially 1975-1983.
2. We’re all closer to the events than we think. As soon as I started reading and learning about the issues, I found that people near me were deeply touched by or had even participated in the events or their more recent consequences. You’ll probably find the same.
Another weird connecting concept is that the real-life historical situations generated their own bodies of fiction, which in each case was highly politically charged but not especially obedient to the dominant discourse. So a big part of each project is about “joining” that community of authorship, in a personal way.