Slate has an enlightening piece on using games to rebuild Iraq.
Lord British suggests applying the lessons from Ultima Online where the original anarchy turned into a social structure (tip: communicate clearly to the users that you’ve heard their complaints).
Edward Castronova suggest remaking an old board game called KingMaker to reflect the muddled political conflicts in present-day Iraq.
While the word “game” can make everybody uncomfortable, it does make sense: Iraq (and the real world in general) is the kind of place where clear-cut ideologies fail because they think that reality can be reduced to a simple root cause (economics, power structures, language, the joy of being liberated, national pride, god) whereas it in actuality is complex and packed with emergent and unpredictable events. Games, however simplistic their models, can be a soothing reminder that the world is full of emergent “gameplay” and events that we can’t master or fix with a simple sleight of hand.