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Gaming to Unite a Divided City in Cyprus

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 5 2014

The Last Divided Capital (Dan Nevill/Flickr)

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Nicosia became the last divided capital in the world. Located on the island of Cyprus, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sections are separated by a United Nations buffer zone. A new online game allows young Nicosia residents on both sides of the divide to experience—virtually—their city as a whole, and helps them understand their shared history.

Nicosia is Calling was developed by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) in Cyprus. It began as a collection of booklets, but AHDR turned it into an online game to reach more people.

Mahallae, “your digital neighbourhood [sic] for civic engagement” in Cyprus and the Euro-Mediterranean region, recently interviewed two members of AHDR, Shirin Jetha and Daphne Lappa, about the project.

Jetha and Lappa share their inspiration for the project, and what they hope to accomplish:

Being aware that we live in a society in Cyprus where people are still afraid to cross to the “other” side, where prejudices and hatred prevail and children especially are exposed to biased views of the past, was one of the major incentives to create an interactive educational game on Nicosia.

We wanted to develop an educational platform that would provide young people with a fun way and an interactive tool in which they would learn about the past and present of the old city of Nicosia, its geography, its unique cultural heritage…And how brilliant to think that a child in Morphou and child in Paphos could simultaneously understand the truly multicultural past of the city and learn about a common history of Cyprus without limitations.

They hope to develop a more complex game for adults and young adults, and to share what they've learned in Nicosia with cities around the world.

Who knew gaming could do so much good?

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