Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Roman Mardoyan-Smyth

Mentor: Matthew Aldredge

Consultant: Matthew Longo

Domains: Cultural History/Visual Arts


Title: Occupied Territory

DescriptMatthew Longoion:

torytm BBC NeI created an instructive board game based on the Palestine/Israel Conflict.  The game’s purpose, and my goal, is to allow a group of people to gain an understanding of the conflict and its principles by participating in the conflict’s history.  By researching the conflict and studying maps of the region I was able to create a game that achieves this and is enjoyable to play.  In 1948, Israel was declared a country; the game begins one year later and guides the participants to the present, moving along a timeline as the game progresses.  The board is an actual map of the region and the game focuses on the value of geographic locations, sites, and resources.

Details: Product consists of: rules and Phases Cards (historical component), 1 Game board, 1 Game Box, 5 Sets of armies, 1 Year Marker, 5 Country Cards and 41 Territories Cards, 5 Capital Markers, 40 Game Cards: 34 Event Cards and 6 Phase Card, and 6 Dice: 5 Battle Dice and 1 Civil Unrest Die.

Product Logo:

The Game in Action:



I began my senior project knowing I wanted to look at a war and see how the geography of the region influenced the events of the war.  At first I decided to do this by writing a paper, but I soon changed my mind wanting my senior project to be more creative then a research paper of some sort.  This was how I came to make a board game.  I realized that I could make a board game much like the ones I play and enjoy so much.  Now I wanted to make a board game based on a historical conflict in the context of the geography of the region in which it occurred. By doing this I hoped to be able to teach the players the history of the conflict through the game and in the process of making the game learn a great deal more about the conflict and how games work.

The next challenge was to choose a conflict and in the end I decided to look at a more contemporary conflict. I felt that learning about a more contemporary conflict would be more interesting for the players of the game.  I choose the Palestine/Israel conflict due to its current importance and because most people have heard of the conflict, but know very little about its history.

My first goal now was to teach myself about the conflict and gather as enough information so that I could process it into a presentable form that would be easier to digest for the players.  My first challenge was to see if the resource I was using had any bias. I did not want my research because then the information I would present to the players would be bias. Once I had done this, I moved on to making the actual game.  I wanted the game to be played on a map, similar to Risk, and a great deal of work went into creating the actual board.

The next goal was to actual typing up the rule, which is the glue to any game.  I had to take all my concepts and ideas and work them into functioning a functioning game, and an understandable format.  This task was made slightly easier by basing the mechanics of game on those of Risk.  Having created the rules in which the came could function, the next challenge was to find a way to incorporate the history of the conflict into the game and create goals for the players so that the game would play out similarly to the history.

Once the project was finished and the presentation given I was able to see what skills I hade come away with from the project.  I have develop skills as a research and better learned to see bias in others writing.  I have a better understanding of the processes that go into making a board game and look differently at the mechanics of board games.  I also learned that even though I enjoy the research and historical part of my project, I am also very connected to the creative visual part.  The senior project has given me a great opportunity to explore my own interests and allowed me to create a product that I am proud of.

Annotated Works Consulted

Anderson, Ewan W. The Middle East: Geography & Geopolitics. London: Routledge, 2000. Mr. Anderson’s book looks at the history of the region and its conflicts through its geography.  The two major topics it touches on are the Palestine-Israel conflict and the fact that it is the one of the world’s largest reserves of petroleum.  The book follows the history of the region looking first at land structure and climate, then beginning the history in 4000 BCE, briefly touching on each major period till the present and then moving in to a more in-depth analysis of the Palestine-Israel conflict, as well as the history of the surrounding countries.

Dodge, B.J. Board Game Design First Steps. 22 Sept. 2003. Viewed 19 Nov. 2006. <> An instructive guide to making any board game. It outlines a method for brainstorming a board game in 6 steps and provides a list the different variables found in many games.

Harms, Gregory and Todd M. Ferry. The Palestine Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction. London: Pluto Press, 2005. The book follows the history of the Palestine Israel conflict, first starting with a brief history of the region beginning in the Bronze Age and moving up to just before the outbreak of the conflict.  The book provides in-depth discussions about the factors leading up to the creation of Israel, such as the Balfour Declaration, and continues to do so with the outbreak of the conflict following it to the present. The book is very informative and for the most part objective, however sometimes it seems to lean towards the side of the Palestinians.

Held, Colbert C. Middle East Patterns: Places, People, and Politics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2006. A comprehensive guide to the Middle East, Mr. Colbert’s book looks at each county individually providing in-depth histories and geographical breakdowns of each region.  It includes a large section in Israel, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, providing information and maps about settlements, immigration, economic patterns, water, and political relations.  The book also contains an informative glossary of terms.  Due to the wide variety of subjects and countries the book covers the book is fairly objective and mostly factual.

“History of Middle East Conflict.” BBC News.  2 Feb. 2001. Viewed 5 Oct, 2006. <>. A timeline of the Palestine/Israel conflict following its major events from 1948 to 2001. Provides links to articles on the Israel elections of ’99 and full texts of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the Declaration of Principles, and the Camp David Accords, among others.

“Key Maps: Israel and the Palestinians.” BBC News. 14 Oct 2006. Viewed 22 Oct. 2006. <>. This BBC source looks at some of the major historical maps and dates of the forming Israel and provides information about each event.  Also has information about the change of Jerusalem during the conflict, as well as maps of Jewish settlements within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Middle East Maps. Perry-CastaĖeda Library Map Collection. Nov. 14 2006.  Viewed 22 Nov. 2006. <>. An online database of maps, both historical and present.  The database has at least four maps for each country or state and provides great maps of the political boundaries within a country, both now and throughout history.

National Geographic. Atlas of the Middle East. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2003.  National Geographic’s atlas for the Middle East. Each map includes information about populations, religious percentages, GDP, etc.  Includes maps of the capitals of each city, historical maps and maps based on regional themes, such as climate, religion, ethnic/linguistic groups, water, and development indicators.

Community Member (Details)

Matthew Longo

A graduate of Yale’s undergraduate program, Matthew recently spent two years in the Middle East doing field research for one of his professors and observing the elections in the West Bank.