IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

War, Peace and Video Games

You know me, I don’t hesitate to jump into some of the big subjects, and this is no exception.  As usual, I make no claim to doing more than scratching the surface here.   First of all, there is a fair amount of controversy over whether or not violent games (particularly first person shooters or FPS’s) make people (usually young people) more violent.  I think the evidence is somewhat ambiguous, though I remember seeing once that if a person is already inclined towards violence, playing violent games might help to get them to do something violent.  However, it seems that most people above a certain minimum age (and young children shouldn’t be playing these games anyway) are not affected in this way.

Seen from a broader perspective, these games certainly reflect and probably reinforce the general militarization of certain aspects of popular culture.  Many are about war, terrorism, subversion, commando operations, viral outbreaks, etc… In other words, they reflect the times.   However, they also have a positive side (even the FPS’s).  They teach players to solve problems (like, for instance, staying alive) in an unknown environment where there are few a priori rules and many unexpected twists and turns.  Personally, I find this very interesting and think these are very important skills to acquire.  Why?  Well, our world is changing very rapidly, and the “certainties” of the past are not very good as guidelines for the future.  So, what will upcoming generations have to do to find a viable path to survival and prosperity?  Well, maybe solve problems (like, for instance, staying alive) in an unknown environment where there are few a priori rules and many unexpected twists and turns.  Of course, this is just as true for Super Mario Brothers as it is for a (much) more violent game like Quake or Resident Evil.

So, what am I saying?  The video game, as such, is not the problem, but the technology could be used in more positive and peace affirming ways.  Which brings me to a very nice site:  Nobelprize.org’s Educational Games .  Here you can find games associated with each of the prizes, including, for the Peace Prize, something called The Peace Doves Game, which is about controlling and eliminating nuclear weapons.  I haven’t had a chance to play a full round, but it reminds me a bit of Carmen Sandiego, if that means anything to you.

There are, apparently, more and more peaceful and ecology-oriented games appearing.  Here’s one I found that looks interesting.

Do you know of others?

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December 7, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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