Games, Peace and Justice

Capture the Castle Game

Capture the Castle is an active adventure game that teaches strategic thinking and planning and fosters empathy for all parties to the conflict.

Capture the Castle is an adventure game referring to peace and justice themes (SDG 16) for children aged 8-13. Children represent different groups in a ‘battle’ and need to organise themselves in order to win. Afterwards they discuss the different feelings on different sides of a conflict, the reasons and mechanisms behind it.

The idea of the game was published in the book ‘Compasito. Manual on Human Rights Education for Children’ and had been adapted from ‘Praxismappe’ Bundesjugendwerk der Arbeiterwohlfahrt.

 

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WE WILL NEED:

  • large space where the children can run and hide
  • 6 action plans, each on a separate sheet of paper of a different colour and cut into 10 pieces
  • 3 various identifiers for 3 different groups (t-shirts, ribbons, face paints etc)
  • water to drink after the game

Gameplay

  1. Explain to the children that there is a beautiful city nearby with a castle at its centre. The city is controlled by the Purple Party, but there are two opposing groups who want to invade and take over the castle – the Blue Party in the south and the Orange Party in the north.
  2. Divide the children into 3 groups: 50% – Purples, 25% – Blues and 25% – Oranges. Indicate the boundaries of the playing area, give the Blue Party and the Orange Party three ‘action plans’ each.
  3. Explain the activity carefully so that all the children understand the rules:

 

  • Everyone must stay within the boundaries of the activity area. Each group will establish a camp within the game’s boundaries – no other group is allowed to enter another group’s camp. The city that the Purple Party is defending should be exactly in the middle, the Blue Party’s camp on one side and the Orange Party’s camp on the other.
  • To capture the castle, the two invading parties must exchange their action plans with each other. Each of these groups has three plans on different coloured paper, which are cut in 10 pieces each. Each piece needs to be brought separately by one of the invaders to the other camp. One person can carry only one piece at a time. The Blues are not allowed to transport pieces of the Oranges or vice versa. Pieces can only be handed over once a Blue or an Orange ‘courier’ reaches the other camp.
  • To defend the castle, the Purples must try to prevent the Blues and Oranges from exchanging their plans. To do so, they should try to catch the invaders and take away pieces of their plans. ‘Catching’ means just touching lightly on the shoulder or arm.
  • When a Blue or an Orange player is caught, they have two options: 1) give their piece of the plan away to the Purples and then be free to re-join the game; 2) refuse to give the piece away and remain a prisoner in the city until the game is over; or they change their decision and the piece is handed over to the opponent. The Blue and Orange Parties can help each other.
  • Players must carry pieces of the plans in a visible way.
  • The two or three facilitators do not take part in the game but supervise to see that all the rules are respected.
  • Once the Blue Party or the Orange Party have collected all ten pieces from one of the plans and have had it completed, they can take all the pieces that the Purple Party had taken away and they win the game. If in turn the Purple Party manages to get all ten pieces of one of the Blues’ or Oranges’ plans, the group who have lost it is out of the game. However, the remaining Party can still win the game. If they can carry all pieces of their plan to the camp of their ally who had been eliminated, both opposing groups win.
  • The game is over when one of the Parties has won or when the set time limit decided by the facilitator has run out.

 

Tips for the Facilitator

  • No one has to fight over anything in this activity. Children in weaker physical conditions can achieve much more through strategy, quickness and cooperation than those who rely on aggression and strength in their actions.
  • Prepare adult facilitators or helpers. Make sure they understand the rules and boundaries of the game area and are aware of any potential dangers in the area.
  • Explain to the Blue and Orange Parties the importance of having a strategy in order to avoid losing pieces of each plan and therefore never getting one completed.
  • Emphasise that ‘to catch’ means simply touching the person lightly on the shoulder / arm. In the paragraph below you will find ideas as to how the game can be adapted to groups of children with different abilities.
  • The duration of the game very much depends on the group. Be prepared for the activity to be shorter or longer than expected.
  • In the follow-up discussion make a clear distinction between armed conflict and peace, or conflicts in general, such as children experience in everyday life. Both are important but need separate approaches.

 

Adaptation

  • If one group or an individual child is weaker than the others, provide some hints on possible strategies (e.g. verify how many pieces of which plan already reached the other camp; risk the loss of some pieces to save the others; do not send pieces of all the plans in the very beginning but save some until you have understood the rhythm and dynamics of the game).
  • Rather than the simple rule (‘touch to catch’ someone), introduce a more challenging procedure (e.g. when a Purple Party member meets a Blue or an Orange Party member, they play ‘rock-paper-scissors’; if a Purple wins, then the Blue or Orange gives up the piece of the plan; if a Blue or an Orange wins, they go free). This variation is effective when the children vary in their ages and physical conditions, because it gives younger or the weaker children an equal chance.

Follow-up Discussion

1. Debrief the activity by asking question such as these:

  • How do you feel?
  • What happened with your action plans?
  • Did you succeed in getting a complete plan? What strategy did you have? How did you make decisions?
  • Did everyone participate in the game? Were all players assigned a different role in the game?
  • How did you feel about the other two Parties?
  • Did the Blue and Orange Parties cooperate or compete? How did their relationship affect the outcome of the game?
  • Did the Blue and Orange Parties fight against the Purples and vice versa? If yes, why? What triggered the conflict?
  • Was the scenario presented in the game realistic? Do you know of similar situations in real life? What are some reasons that such conflicts happen in real life?
  • How do you think this situation could be changed? How could such conflicts be prevented?
  • Do you know of any other conflicts in your life? What do you do to resolve them? What could be done to change these situations?
  • How do conflicts arise? What can we do to avoid them, resolve them, manage them and/ or what actions can we take to sustain peace (depending on the examples discussed)?

 

2. Relate the activity to human rights by asking questions such as these:

  • What are some human rights that could be violated when people are in conflict? In an armed conflict?
  • How are different parties in a conflict affected by having their rights violated? How will this affect their future?
  • How are children affected by conflict? How will this affect their future?
  • What can be done to prevent conflicts and human rights violations such as these?
  • Can all conflicts be resolved? If not, how can human rights help people to manage their conflicts?

Ideas for Actions to Promote Peace

If your debriefing discussions focused mainly on armed conflict and peace, try to organise / join a demonstration for peace and / or visit a peace organisation. Help the children find out about how these organisations understand peace and approach conflict resolution.
Discuss with the children the ways they deal with conflict among themselves. Help them develop some ground rules for addressing conflicts within their group that reflect human rights standards (e.g. no physical violence, no insulting language, everyone has the right to an opinion and expression thereof, and equal opportunity to participate in the group’s activities).

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