Teaching our kids the difference between video game combat and real war

On the ONE Campaign blog today, I share my thoughts on a father’s choice to teach his sons about videogame violence by taking them to Israel and Syria.

While I respect his choice, it wouldn’t be mine. From the ONE post:

I have a 14 year-old son who loves to play combat video games. We draw the line on mature, realistic war games, but he plays a few sci-fi themed first-person shooters. I can’t stand these games, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play them. But I do recognize that they are games, and so does my son.

I wrote more on my reasoning which didn’t make it into the ONE post due to space considerations. Here it is:

Like it or not, the simplistic good vs. evil/you vs. me nature of combat is the basis for many games (playground games, video games, sports, board games). Indeed, it’s behind many of our most compelling novels and movies. Conflict is the fundamental plot driver of a story. And "getting the bad guy" is a satisfying ending, even if it’s not reflective of real life. 

For me, violent video games (and movies such as Harry Potter and Star Wars, and novels such as The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings) open the door to conversations about the complexities of war and conflict. These fictional setups become common ground where my kids and I meet to discuss larger issues that don’t fit neatly into the plot lines of a story.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments here or on the ONE blog.

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This piece specifically addresses international violence, but the topic is just as relevant to violence here in the US. I’m thinking about the frightening events unfolding in Ferguson, MO, right now.