Parent of gamer asks his son to honor the Geneva Conventions

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283 Responses to “Parent of gamer asks his son to honor the Geneva Conventions”

  1. theLadyfingers says:

    I’d like to say, for the record, that a childhood of unfettered access to ultraviolent entertainments made me the man I am today: really wary of weapons.

  2. Takuan says:

    I’ve got a suggestion for you too, slow.

  3. usfoodpolicy says:

    It’s a great challenging question whether rules of war make war better. On a tour a couple years ago of the International Committee of the Red Cross museum in Geneva, the guide was clearly wrestling with questions about whether his organization’s lovely work to alleviate the pain of war sometimes facilitates by making war bearable to the war-makers. Thinking of Evan in front of his video controller makes me think of Lee and Longstreet at the top of the hill at Fredericksburg, philosophizing on the terrible nature of war. Perhaps, like Lee and Longstreet, Hugh and Evan could discuss the Geneva Conventions while blasting away without restraint for maximum educational value.

  4. Xopher says:

    I think this is good parenting. I think they said they’d see how it goes; this will lead, I expect, to the kid telling Dad “a computer-generated ‘team member’ killed that POW/used poison gas/whatever” and there was nothing I could do to stop it” and the dad (who seems like a reasonable sort) saying “OK, not your fault” and revising the rules. Only a real dummkopf thinks rules once made can never be changed.

    Were this my blog, I would simply have deleted PShaffer’s comment. But it is NOT my blog, and Cory made a different choice.

    Cicada 14: Even more fun– assuming his class happened to put on a production of Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, would you have a problem if he wound up cast as Henry and gave the order for every man to kill his prisoners?

    Two things wrong with that: one, Henry’s order was criminal by the standards of his time, too; the code of chivalry says that when you have a prisoner you’re not allowed to just kill him, whatever else happens. (I’m not sure who invented the story that the French killed the noncombatant boys, but as far as I know it’s not historical.)

    And two, theatre != video games. Believe it or not.

    TheLadyFingers 18: a childhood of unfettered access to ultraviolent entertainments

    I at first read that as “ultraviolet entertainments” and thought of the black-light posters I collected when I was a kid. Good times.

  5. robulus says:

    @Greg Yeah it’s not a highpoint of the game. Those “platform” style periods of gameplay alsways feel like padding. The worst is jumping across little boxes and things. Very Mario 64.

    There’s a bit just after that where your buddy gets wounded, and you’ve got 15 minutes to get to a chopper rendevous, alternately carrying him and taking out enemies. Thats pretty cool.

  6. AirPillo says:

    I’m a little too young to be a parent, at 21, but when I have children the household rules about gaming will, I hope, be inspired by thinking like this.

    This actually sounds very clever. Instead of just treating gaming as something unhealthy and antisocial, and limiting access to it or discouraging it, here you see parents who have turned one of their child’s favorite games into an opportunity for an educational dialog and a potentially enlightening experience.

    I think that’s just downright awesome. Sure, in this specific instance what their child is learning may be narrow in scope, but if you apply this kind of process intelligently throughout his various games and even his other hobbies, in the long run he’s going to pick up a lot of educational interaction with his parents and the ideas they’re exposing him to; and in a way which will be memorable enough in its own right to help cement the learning experiences in his mind.

    I love, love, love the use of games to teach. An educational program I was in as a child made heavy use of game play (with computer games, board games, and more) as a teaching tool, and I have to say that none of my lessons from those years stuck with me as much as the ones which had fun and engrossing gameplay experiences attached to them. Sometimes it really was just as simple as keeping you thinking about an educational concept while playing a game that was not necessarily even educational in and of itself.

    (please forgive me for gushing a bit about this)

  7. Tenn says:

    @Sloansteddi;

    Why? I’m not being sarcastic. Taku-san and I do have the tendency to talk to eachother in asides a lot, but I didn’t feel I was doing that really. I thought that my aside about my sniper-potential friend and my Army friends was useful to the thread as a whole.

  8. nosehat says:

    I can’t believe I actually read through all these comments, with varying degrees of waxing and waning interest. It’s made me think about the different expectations we have for “communication behavior” in real life vs. over the internet.

    In the context of a random comment on a blog from Some Random Guy On The Internet, the first comment wasn’t particularly unusual or out-of-bounds. It was some guy spouting off in the hit-and-run fashion that is common in comment threads. In fact, it seemed a little more rational and reasonable than it could have been; he used qualifying language after all, and didn’t resort to name calling. In this context, Cory’s response seemed a little over the top to some. In the context of semi-anonymous internet communication, it has a lot of linguistic similarities to flaming, troll-bating, etc.

    However, in the context of “real life” or “face to face” communication, the first commenter was being exceptionally rude. If you were introduced to this fellow and his son in real life, you would be a complete ass if the first words out of your mouth were “The real issue here is he’s fat.” In that context, Cory’s angry response is perfectly appropriate, even called-for. In fact, Cory showed more restraint than I would have in such a situation.

    As I read it, much of the tension and argument in this tread is a result of the collision between these two modes of communication, the rules of face-to-face “real life” communication vs. the rules of semi-anonymous virtual internet communication.

    This is especially interesting (in a “meta-” sort of way), because the topic of this post is ostensibly about the applicability of real-world codes of behavior (the Geneva convention) to a virtual setting (the video game).

    In both cases, we have a messy hybrid of the virtual and the real. The dad’s game playing rule for his son is one attempt to navigate this hybrid space. Boing boing’s evolving moderation policy is another attempt to navigate a similarly hybrid space. In both cases, I suspect that simple, one line answers won’t solve the problem.

    Thanks for an interesting thread!

  9. ndollak says:

    Wow, the comments really took a nose-dive quickly on this one! I just wanted to voice my approval, regardless of the fact that CofD isn’t entirely accurate and that the Geneva Conventions weren’t drawn up until after WWII. War is hell, no matter how you slice it. But if people can sit down and agree to hold to certain rules, knowing that there will be consequences for violating said rules, one hopes that negotiation will win out over conflict in the long run. The Geneva Convention is a very sound set of principles. If more people were made to learn about them, the disgraceful misconduct at Guantanamo Bay detainment camp and Abu Ghraib prison might never have happened.

  10. kullervo says:

    How this would have played in my house:

    “Dad, can I play this M-rated war video game?”
    “No. Go play outside.”

    And that would have been it. My parents didn’t go in for rebuttal or essay questions. I do remember a lot of the great games we played outside. And I had no occasion to learn the Geneva Convention at thirteen.

  11. PrettyBoyTim says:

    That’s fascinating, and actually prompted me to go and look up the Geneva Conventions to see if they meant what I thought they meant. Turns out I didn’t know as much about them as I thought.

    I don’t know which CoD this kid is playing, but I can think of at least one scene in CoD4 where the player’s team breaks the convention (the beating up and subsequent murder of a captive).

    I think it’s an excellent idea. It is worth examining the ethical conduct of heroes in the media that we enjoy.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I respect this decision, it teaches the kid about the reality of war, making moral decisions and just to not be unnecesary cruel.

    If it’s entirely realistic I don’t know, the game includes prisoners’rights being trampled (execution of surrendering and/or defenceless/wounded soldiers) and the scorching of your foes with the occasional flamethrower and molotov cocktail, severed limbs and heads, stabbing with knifes and bayonets.

    Though I applaud the initiative, making kids aware of international wartime laws is in my opinion a good thing.

    cheers!

  13. mrsomuch says:

    I think what’s relevant here is the interaction and the level that it is carried out at, rather than the specific lesson – it is engaging with familiar systems and scenarios in an unfamiliar or off beat fashion. That is what stands out for me, a creative approach to our world and it’s mechanisms for education.

  14. Anonymous says:

    IMHO the idea the father had is one of the nicest i ever heard of. In general the parents have 2 ways of reacting to their child playing FPS or similar violent games:

    a) They self become violent and shout at the kid to stop playing games involving violence/killing/whatever, sometimes even try to blame the PC/Konsole for this.

    b) They completly ignore it, since the cannot get a grasp to computers.

    The version c) here in this story is just genius. Having a talk with his son, discussing the Geneva Conventions, which at this age are more a “heard of” thing, and combining this with his attitude playing FPS, is the utmost constructive behaviour i have seen till now.

    Even if the game itself is living on violence, just to have him think about the conventions while playing the game and not just hitting anybody is a positive development.

    So far,
    Sebastian

  15. ST says:

    Having played Call of Duty with my 11 year old son (admittedly it was the Wii version which seems to feature significantly less “gore” that the other platforms) I don’t see how one could violate any aspects of the Geneva Conventions while playing even if you wanted to. Am I missing something?

    Additionally, the online version is simply a death match shooter (dressed up in WWII graphics) along the lines of Unreal Tournament and every other such game and doesn’t bear much similarity to reality. Your sprite runs around and sprays shots at the other sprites. If you hit them enough times they fall down, respawn and you do it again.

  16. Sleepy13 says:

    My dad once asked me, “Why can’t you go around giving people flowers instead of killing them?”
    “Old hippy…” i thought, as I went back to my own particular version of crowd control..

    I really enjoyed this whole post. I like how the comments totally evolve & flavour it. It’s pretty clear there are still questions & concerns about videogame morality.
    Lets tread lightly & lovingly folks. Respect other people’s onions, don’t cry over them.

  17. Ugly Canuck says:

    Well well. A disease caused by video games.
    By my count, that’s one more than they have been able to attribute to marijuana use. Link:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7907489.stm

    Time for another set of warnings on the package.

  18. Tenn says:

    @Holtt;

    Then I’ve been fairly hypocritical. I often counsel others to look into a poster’s history to determine whether they’re being outright rude or not, and here I’ve gone and not done so myself.

    My respectful apologies for lambasting your post at #62.

  19. doggo says:

    *old man rant* In my day when we played “army” we played it outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Our “teams” were other kids there in the flesh. We used the neighborhood topography for cover and such. And occasionally we captured and held the pets of the other team as prisoners of war. The worst torture we committed was eating candy bars in front of captured dogs and not giving them any.*/old man rant*

    I feel so sorry for this generation of children. The lack of un-supervised play is distressing. How will these kids learn to be independent?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Superb!

    That kid has to be pretty awesome in order to discuss the geneva convention with you! He’s probably learned a lot, and you too! :)

  21. sloansteddi says:

    @T+T

    I recognized that much at least. But I have trouble reading tone even when I am face-to-face with someone. To me, it seems like you were still being critical of Mr. Doctorow, in a particularly offensive way. If you were simply mocking to the idea, then I retract my statements towards you and redirect them towards everyone else being rude.

    If you were being mocking to a person, they remain.

    This is something that concerns only the two of you and has nothing to do with the original topic. also, it isn’t funny or entertaining (things worth posting/reading despite being off topic).

    It just seems to me that if you two want to have your pissing contest, not everyone needs to hear it (or is that the fun of it?).

    If you’d like to discuss this with me further, please email or pm me at
    tapes dot and dot cds at gmail
    I’m not interested in boring everyone with ceaseless interpersonal hair-splitting.

  22. robulus says:

    FPS are really just sick.

    You can have that if you also maintain that James Bond movies are “just sick”. Otherwise its a stupid generalisation from a similarly gifted mind.

  23. djn says:

    @cicada, 13: True, but out of the two extremes (always to the letter, vs. always ignore totally), I’d hope the former is a better approximation.

  24. Tenn says:

    “Dad, can I play this M-rated war video game?”

    It’s T rated, and Evan is a teen.

  25. GregLondon says:

    just finished all the levels in Call of Duty 4.

    It is impossible for you to violate the geneva convention during COD4. Though your AI comrades do. At one point, your CO executes a prisoner during interrogation. But you can’t do anything about it other than watch. It isn’t part of gameplay, it’s one of the scenes in between levels.

    None of the enemy soldiers ever surrender. Sometimes when they are shot and wounded, they’ll be on the ground shooting at you, but they never put their hands up and surrender.

    There are no civilians in the game that I saw. No children with AK’s ever run out at you. No women with suicide vests ever sneak up on you. No civilian drivers in cars.

    It’s all quite sanitized.

  26. Tenn says:

    “Dad, can I play this M-rated war video game?”

    It’s T rated, and Evan is a teen. Would you have liked to have learned the Geneva Convention at thirteen?

  27. noir says:

    Sheesh. Talk about a buzzkill. Why not make him read a People’s History of the United States already?

    As for the scene where a prisoner of war is killed in COD4 WAW, it’s a cutscene, not something the player has control over.

    When your boy watches TV, does this mean he has to turn off the show whenever there’s a movie on that depicts anything prior to the Geneva Convention being enacted?

    And having recently been diagnosed with diabetes, I agree with the now charcoaled 1st poster: have this kid exercise for 1 hour for every 4 hours of gaming. Even if he has no significant health problems now, a sedentary lifestyle of gaming (sans Geneva Conventions, or not) could lead to a plethora of health issues. Better to get him into the habit of exercising than following conventions that are hardly followed.

  28. holtt says:

    #235 posted by Bonzo McGrue , February 23, 2009 12:57 PM

    No seriously, the kid needs to get off the couch and do some push-a-ways from the buffet table. And Corry, dude, seriously, this kid is not the captain of his hockey team…

    Bonzo, seriously – you need to learn to quote. Otherwise people make posts I just did that make it look like you said something you didn’t say.

  29. Maybelle Stearns says:

    Many computer games are habit forming, and potentially addictive. The player receives instant rewards for as long as the he or she persists. Children need help identifying when a pleasure has become over-indulgence, and sometimes need help learning how to control addictive behavior. Parents have to help their child deal with the difficulty of turning the computer off.

    Hours of use, repeated day after day, develop permanent memories. What are the lessons and reflexes learned? Only someone who plays the game for hours can understand whether or not the game can influence reality in a positive way. A young mind is still open to learning basic wiring; the lessons go deep, whatever they are.

    Parents themselves need to play the computer game obsessively to understand the actual impacts of such deep involvement, even if only from the standpoint of an adult. No, parents will not do this; they are too busy and this is, after all, kid stuff, just like school and other things that keep their children off the street and out of trouble.

    Parents want society to give young people what they need to know in order to become independent and prosperous, because supporting a family leaves little time to do anything else.

  30. ehanzal says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I was moved by this story and hosting some teenagers of my own would be interested in how you would check for violations of the agreement.

  31. Jenonymous says:

    Am I missing something here? If Parent doesn’t want 13-year-old kid playing a game, why did he buy it for them or let him play it in the house?

    The whole “make him read and play by the Geneva convention” thing sounds like what I call “hairshirt intellectualism,” ie an enforced thoroughly unenjoyable “learning experience” designed to deliberately destroy any pleasurable activity that a parent/authority figure doesn’t personally approve of (but is too chickenshit to prohibit outright) but delivered under the guise of “intellectual growth.”

    For a perfect example, see any back strip of “The Modern Parents”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Modern_Parents

    You don’t want your kid playing COD? Tell him why and then don’t fucking buy it for him, or let him play it in the house.

    The solution listed here reminds me of all the “almost but not quite like” health food clones of kids’ breakfast cereals and snack items, with poorly-done, embarrassingly uncool artwork adorning food that tastes like ass which kids are supposed to enjoy as much as the real thing. Now, it may be BETTER for them but for God’s sake don’t pretend that they will like Wholisitc Chakra Gluten-Free Soy Dinosaur Puffs as much as Cheetos.

  32. cowtown says:

    Plus Two for using the video game as an opening to discuss history and one of the bittersweet complications of being human (we are still animals who kill each other over self-interest, but oddball animals who feel bad about it and make rules to limit the carnage).

    Minus One for taking the lesson too far and not trusting the — apparently very bright and sensitive — child to understand that the game is not reality and that playing within an electronic sandbox doesn’t translate to the real world in anything remotely close to a 1-to-1 ratio.

    Still a net gain, IMHO, but one tempered by a bit of overthinking.

  33. abq halsey says:

    This thread sounds fat.

  34. lectio says:

    First: I hope Hugh Spencer asked Evan for permission before he wrote about him and posted his picture. This isn’t like mommy blogging about your kid’s potty training – Evan is a teenager, and he has a right to know about content being posted about him on the net. I’m guessing that his dad talked to him first, though – any dad that makes his kid read the Geneva Convention probably would.

    Second: to all of the commenters busy assessing Evan’s weight, his lifestyle, whether or not he read the document, his motivations, etc. – he’s just a kid! Leave him alone! God forbid he should come along and read some of the things people have been saying.

    Third: Evan, if you are reading this – or Evan’s dad, since I’m sure you’ve come by to have a look…don’t worry about what people here are saying. I bet a lot of us are just jealous that you’re still a kid and can play video games with your friends instead of sitting in a cubicle all day long. Don’t bother with the comments about your appearance because you’re a normal kid, and you look just fine to me. Your dad made you read the Geneva Convention before playing a game? Hey, neat. My parents did things like that for (to?) me, and I turned out just fine. The point is to learn to think about stuff like this, and to start asking about how a video game shapes the way you see the world.

    You’re a great kid, and your parents obviously love you a lot. Just enjoy your teenage years, read as much as you can, and don’t worry about what a bunch of thirty and forty year old people on the internet have to say about your life.

  35. quantax says:

    While cool that the parent is engaged and not completely ignorant of their child’s activities, this restriction also demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the activity as well. As other posters have pointed out, there really is no opportunity to break Geneva conventions in this or most war games. There is no surrendering, no taking of prisoners, no civilians, no non-military infrastructure, no bombing campaigns, just two sides with guns who shoot each other till they’re dead. At no point does the game attempt to force the player to make an ethical/moral decision cause your decision is whether to shoot the guy in front of you before he kills you first.

    Honestly, few war games force the player to make actual moral decisions that will affect them, mostly cause there is no taking of prisoners and few games really go into the civilian aspect in any meaningful manner. If you want to educate your kid, I’d recommend bringing them to a war museum or something along those lines.

    To be sure, I wouldnt mind seeing some ‘ultra realistic’ war games that go more for the angle of ‘what does war really mean’ especially in these days of urban warfare, not the olden days of two sides agreeing to fight in a designated area, which is basically what these games do even with modern combat. Is there anything like that out there now?

  36. Bekah says:

    # 16 Stu Mark exactly what I was thinking so I’ll second those comments and just add that I know you can never tell, but I think this young man will learn that his parents value him and his ideas, respect him and are interested in him in more than just a cursory, supervisory way – all the very best

  37. mikefinch says:

    The sons TEAM????

    Is this the computer controlled team? or the other people playing on multiplayer.

    You have no control over other people breaking conventions in the game. You can only control your child. And i think it would set a terrible example if you were to punish your child for the actions of others who are not bound to his rules.

    If his team-mates violate the Convention then play stops and Call of Duty goes away for a while.

    Does nobody else see the problem here?

  38. Raian says:

    Cory, I am going to offer my opinion even though I know you do not want to hear it.

    First let’s start with this posting. The gaping issue with this story, is in my opinion, quite serious. This video-game is a fantasy… and as close as it may come to reality, it is not real. The Geneva convention is on the other hand, quite real. The problem comes in when the father confuses these two things, he turns the fantasy in to something real, and the brings the real into the realm of fantasy.

    Confusing Fantasy with the Real will leave this child unprepared for the time he may need to actually address a situation of war, or the geneva convention. This confusion may be or become so deep seated in his mind that it could feed a pathological condition.

    The “MD” you so rhetorically dismissed was on to something that does not require an MD to point out. That the Real is outside– it’s walking out your door and engaging with the world. If you want to teach the child about war, take him to Vimy ridge, or Auschwitz– and even there he will barely be able to scratch the surface of what really happened.

    Also, it does not take an MD to point out that exercise is good for you, and that there is the ever-expanding issue of children not exercising. This has been a compounding problem for a very long time, which will not disappear any time soon.

    My next point is about you. You push your agenda with tyrant’s wit. It seems like no one can have an opinion but you. Your dismissal of the first poster is my proof– for all you know he could be right, the child could keel over any second of a heart attack. What he or she gave was merely sound advice, albeit based on an image of what appears to be a plump child, and hiding behind the illusion of a doctorate.

    Cory, my diagnosis is you need to start eating humble pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Open yourself up to new ideas and new ways of seeing the same old problems…. perhaps DRM is a good thing when everything is said and done– perhaps all debates are not 2-dimensional, and their is no easy binary solution.

  39. mstoddard says:

    @doggo, Nicely put. While I am not really an old timer (being born in ’81, no children yet), we also used the neighborhood as battleground. BUT, we also played a huge amount of video games.

    So I’m technically part of this new generation and I can safely say that both worlds do in fact coexist and even compliment each other.

    What this parent did was truly commendable.

  40. krylon says:

    RE: #73 “After reviewing the Geneva Conventions, it’s hard to find a lot of opportunity to violate them, when I consider what’s in the game.”

    Tabun Gas is listed on Schedule 1 of substances banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention (schedule 1 is made up of substances that have no use other than chemical warfare) I do not know the heritage of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Tabun gas is used frequently in-game.

    I learned this via 15 minutes of wikipedia research that I otherwise would not have done. The kid probably had a similarly educational experience poring over the contents of treaties he would not have otherwise read. I suppose I am in the minority of thinking this was creative parenting at its best.

  41. Shane says:

    Sometimes “both things are equally true”. Yes, the first poster was out of line. You inherently gotta distrust people who like to proclaim their credentials loudly on the internet… And, yes, Cory’s reply was overthetop. Judging by the thread replies Cory didn’t do the story any good by putting the focus him and the good “doctor”.

    @Takuan… how many of those tortures had breakfast in the morning? I’d like to see a study between having breakfast and a propensity to torture. 95% of the time I’m with you, but you’re kind of getting into paranoid “OMG GAMES ARE RUINING THE KIDS” territory, but since I bet that doesn’t bother you and torture does you’ve appropriated the mislogic to apply to your boogeyman. Now, I’ll be open to being corrected because, tbh, a lot of the trailing posts… I didn’t read. :)

    As for the OP I agree with those who say that if its an attempt to parent the games your kids play its a bad way to go. Better to keep with the idea that games are games and not conflate them with reality.

    BUT, if you wanted to look at it as a social experiment (yes, parenting is a social experiment of sorts but not all social experiments are parenting efforts) I think its pretty interesting. I think it might be a good way to get kids to understand that games ARE NOT reality rather than the other way around.

    And… as usual with the intertubes a lot of overreaction from all around.

  42. Cnoocy says:

    Faustus @17, while exercise has many health benefits, there are many documented cases of fat patients suffering and dying because doctors didn’t bother to look past their fatness.

    And the latest research on the amount of exercise needed for that “vast majority” to lose the weight is 3-4 hours a day, aka a half-time job. You may think that’s reasonable. I don’t.

  43. GregLondon says:

    The doctor’s comments seem more of an observation of someone on the internet he doesn’t know and will never meet, and his comment doesn’t seem any more out of line that similar ones made in this thread.

    The difference, of course, is that this is the son of one of Cory’s friends. Depending on how close they are, Cory might think of the kid as a “nephew”. And the odds are high that the nephew read the comment by the doctor, and would probably hurt his feelings.

    I don’t think the doctor intended to hurt the kid’s feelings. But I also don’t think that Cory really thinks this guy got his MD from the mail with some boxtops.

  44. insipid says:

    So… the idea of upholding the Geneva Conventions in video games is good…

    …except when it’s bad:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/02/11/canadian-red-cross-v.html

  45. Gaudeamus says:

    @Robulus I prefer medicated pads. ;)

    Nice to see this is still going. Sad to see that it’s got to be explained, quite a lot, to some people that some type of entertainment isn’t the devil. Makes me think that there are some things that people can find no value in. And hasn’t this guy heard of Portal? I haven’t played it but from what I understand there’s not a single other human (or nonhuman animal) in that game which can be killed. Duck Hunt was an FPS, strictly speaking. Is he saying that nobody he has ever worked with who was a good worker has EVER played Duck Hunt? He may also be missing casual games, which include some which are basically FPS but don’t involve killing anything. Where’s the line here?

  46. robulus says:

    For Christs sake, Cory’s post was fine. Has he officially been designated the Boing Boing whipping boy or just become the de facto standard?

    Dr. Pshaffer’s other recent contributions include second guessing NASA on whether Phoenix found water or not.

    This opening comment was suitably dickish, and got what it deserved.

  47. sum.zero says:

    jack

    until you learn to look beyond your own prejudices you will not be in a position to have an honest discussion on the subject. as it is, you are blinded by your dogmatic beliefs, regardless of how many others point out the flaws in your logic and facts. we’re not interested in being lectured to in the same way you’re not.

    here’s another thing to think about: maybe some of those people you and your team held in such contempt were actually competent professionals who did not appreciate your condescending opinions about them and their hobbies. i know i would not stay in a position where i had to regularly deal with the kind of ignorance and prejudice you’ve been spouting here.

    i won’t waste any more of either of our time on this as i don’t really see it going anywhere…

  48. mrsomuch says:

    @29 RAIAN

    Whoa there! your response seems a tad reactionary don’t you think?

    You are looking at this situation (IMO) in very black and white terms, and you are insulting the intelligence of both Hugh and Evan. I would infer from the very brief glimpse we have of their lives that they are both well aware that the game is a fiction. What is interesting is the interaction that is occurring between all three of them (the parent, the child and the media).

    I don’t know how you could think for one minute that this interaction is going to confuse Evan in terms of relating to the real world. If anything it’s going to help…

    The first poster came across as a little snide and as Cory rightly said, Evan may well read this comment thread, and such an observation is not helpful, is highly personal and totally unwarranted – for a start it’s completely off topic!

    And lastly; this is Cory’s blog – he can say whatever he wants in any way he wants, it’s not for you to say whether it’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. If you don’t like it, feel free to not comment.

    (obviously, these are just my opinions, feel free to disregard them at will :-p )

  49. Chevan says:

    I think it’s a neat idea. Pointless, but neat. Kudos for effort and concern.

    I have my own personal rule of thumb – I prefer not to play games based on wars or conflicts that actually happened. I know that it’s not a rational response, but I just don’t feel comfortable finding entertainment in a setting so many people died in. I think it’s disrespectful to the people who were there at the time.

    If somebody else wants to play/make/enjoy that stuff, I’m not going to try to stop them or lecture them. But I won’t join them, either.

  50. GregLondon says:

    but is wartime combat really “gun violence” now? i need to rethink my medals i guess.

    the wartime combat where you got your medals isn’t the same as wartime combat as portrayed in a videogame.

  51. Sarrd says:

    You can’t play in Call of Duty 5 if you respect the Geneva Convention, but it’s possible in CoD 4.
    There is an article in Slate.fr “How to play in video games with the Geneva Convention” (in french), it’s interesting.

    http://www.slate.fr/story/comment-jouer-aux-jeux-vid%C3%A9o-en-respectant-la-convention-de-gen%C3%A8ve

  52. mrsomuch says:

    oops, double posting! how embarrassing! my apologies fellow Mutants.

    /gets coat

  53. allenrl says:

    Strictly in terms of the video game – I think that’s a great idea to encourage your kids to be moral when simulating war.

    As for the weight…

    Maybe a youngster who’s interested in military video games would be interested in a military high school. Learn some discipline, get in shape… just a thought.

  54. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Jenonymous, I don’t understand how one prevents a 13 year old from having his own money.

  55. IamInnocent says:

    I don’t have much in a matter of comment except that I wish that people would talk from actual experience: on one hand there at the very least were POWs in CoD (I gave up quickly on FPS which disgust me pretty much). See for yourselves:
    http://guides.gamepressure.com/callofduty2/guide.asp?ID=339

    You’ll see also that at least some part of the Geneva Convention applies, by rule.

    I am more interested in learning how the effort goes in the mid/long term. Cory, could you see to have a follow up on that story?

    Thanks

  56. Sean Grimm says:

    @133 chevan

    It is a fictional recreation. There might be some historical accuracy but a ‘real war’ based game is about as inflammatory as a war based film. I won’t try to convince you to change your opinion but do you apply this to all fiction? Things like war based novels, comics, films, television series, etc? If you single out video games specifically there is something that needs to be rooted out there. Does the interactivity of a video game somehow make it more offensive than simply reading a book or watching a show?

  57. Ugly Canuck says:

    Moretis: yeah, I’ll drop the qualifier. Thus:

    I abhor violence: but particularly gun violence, having some personal experience thereof.

  58. Raj77 says:

    Learn some discipline, get in shape, be indoctrinated as a killer.

  59. Takuan says:

    has anyone sat down with the latest crop of war criminals created in Iraq and asked them what they played?

  60. Brettspiel says:

    WaterLillyGirl –

    I wasn’t poking barbs at Cory. He has talked about his weight problems here on boingboing and blogs fairly regularly about weight loss and diet related issues. I don’t think it is a taboo subject.

    I’m fat. I was a fat kid, now I’m a fat adult. Having experienced the world as a fat person, I’m aware of the often unbelievable insensitivity of people who have never struggled with weight, with their comments and unsolicited medical advice.

    Yeah, it is presumptuous of me to speculate about Cory’s motivations, and maybe his snide belittlement of PSchaffer was well thought out and reasoned in the 7 minutes he took to respond to his comment, but I think if the first comment on the post had been about something other than the kid’s weight, no matter how inappropriate or redonkulous, there would be no internet asshole post.

  61. teddanson says:

    I thought Cory’s post was pretty uncalled for and self-important. Although the radiologist’s post did seem a little like half the point was to tell everyone he’s a doctor, the other half seemed to be a wider point about a general lack of exercise in modern society.

    Much of modern sedentary lifestyles (especially among adolscents) is fuelled by too much TV and computer games. There is an ‘obesity epidemic’ as it’s called, which has been identified by large numbers of awell-qualified and experienced professionals in relevant fields. Lack of exercise is also identified as one of the primary causes of this. Ergo…

  62. GregLondon says:

    If you don’t follow those rules, you don’t get those protections.

    That’s an interesting spin on reality, but you don’t get to ignore the fact that you signed the Geneva Convention simply because you’re fighting someone who didn’t.

    What you’re attempting to spin here is the idea of “they started it, so I get to finish it”. You’ll go along with the Geneva Convention as long as the other side does. If they don’t, you won’t. That’s the maturity level one would expect from a couple of five-year-olds having a fight.

    It’s definitely something many liberals have a difficult time grasping.

    Hm, oppose immoral war (needless killing of civilians, torturing POW’s, etc) and you’re a “liberal”? I think you just satisfied the definition for being a fascist.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Sir. As a Parent in the United States Navy, I think it is a wonderful idea to teach your son about the Geneva Convention, but please realize this. It is just a game. It will always be a game and it will never be anything more than a game. I play CoD with my son too and based from my experience from playing the game, there are no prisoners what so ever, and if there were prisoners we would not be able to shoot them.
    Also, shooting friendlies is also possible but it can be turned off. There is a “Friendly Fire” option where it can be turned on/off.

    Plus, since your son is a ‘Teen”, he is allowed

  64. GregLondon says:

    jack@202: When you are seeing action directly through the eyes of your character and the main goal of the action is simply killing, I find that sick.

    Jack, you’re having a visceral reaction to something, and then trying to present it as the logical conclusion of some argument. It isn’t logical. It’s visceral.

    Until you get that, though, you’re going to keep trying to present some very “out there” exaplanations attempting to wrap it up in some pretty words.

    Sometimes, the only thing to get is that you’re having a visceral reaction to something and no one else does.

  65. Raj77 says:

    Surely it would be good just to educate the kid about the Geneva Conventions by talking about it? The conditioning aspect of this experiment is very weird, especially when it involves negative punishment for the virtual actions of lines of code over whom the boy has no control whatsoever.

    All very aspirational, but not very well thought through.

  66. Drhaggis says:

    Post: Parent teaches a 13 year old about international law using modern games as a reference.

    Comments:
    Kids are fat.
    Fat people are a real problem.
    Kids should not be playing such games.
    No one should be playing such games.
    The game can be played, but without thinking about its content or setting.
    The game in question is not historically accurate.
    Games used as a teaching aid? This leads to madness!
    A game cannot be won by playing by adopting real world laws and ethics? No lessons to be found there.

    BoingBoing Comments: 101 ways to say “you’re doing it wrong”

  67. Takuan says:

    slow, let me make that suggestion so even you can understand it. Piss off.

  68. GregLondon says:

    The parent used this as a good opportunity to relate with their kid, and maybe teach something.

    As far as the game goes, it isn’t an accurate training aid for war. A realistic portrayal of war would be a horrible game.

    How exactly do you simulate in the game the fact that you’re freezing your ass off, soaked with rain, haven’t slept in forever, and need to hump another 20 miles before you can sleep?

    A lot of games are really little more than puzzles. Go forward, turn right. down a bit more. Shoot. back up. turn left. up, over, and in. shoot. shoot. shoot. Figure out the sequence, win the game.

    Real war has a lot of randomness in it. Where exactly the mortar round hits will determine whether you, or your buddy next to you, will die. But people don’t want to play games where they learn a sequence that gets them to the end once, but never works again. People don’t want to play a game where every second has a 1/100th chance of some stray bullet or bit of shrapnel finding you and killing you.

    As for the Geneva Convention and games, yeah, I don’t recall any games that dealt with taking POW’s. Some have civilians running around that you don’t want to kill. And I think there was a BB post within the last couple months about a game that required you to torture to win, but for the most part, the opportunity to torture isn’t really an interesting gaming scenario.

    AI bots moving around, shooting at you, you can respond by moving around and shooting back.

    But to get to the point where the player would even be presented with a scenario where torture would be a possible solution would be something like “Call of Duty, Prison Warden” or something equally boring. How do you simulate interrogation? real, effective, working interrogation is a thankless job. Someone has to do it, but someone has to work in a toll booth, and neither one are jobs a lot of people would want to play. POW Schmidtzeiner needs medical treatment, do you provide it, yes or no?

    Probably most importantly, the missions are usually never designed to push the “go” versus “no-go” decision of a low level grunt being ordered to do something that starts bordering on potential Geneva violations. Aerial bombard someplace like Dresden (i.e. Slaughterhouse Five)? Or what do you do when the AI’s on your team start violating the rules of war? (i.e. your platoon starts killing women and children in My Lai.)

    You’d also have to get rid of scoring systems that are based on body counts.

  69. Jenonymous says:

    Ito,

    Is the 13-year-old living in his own apartment, paying for his own food and rent?

    If the answer is no, the person paying his tab gets to say what does and does not come into the house. End of argument.

  70. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting to me that so many people seem to remember their childhood as a memory of their parents getting in the way of their entertainment.

    The point here is that whether or not CoD is a good forum to explore the Geneva Conventions, this is a family that’s trying to be involved in their kid’s gaming hobby without being obstructionist. While I agree with the commenters who doubt that an FPS is going to turn your kid into a new killer, I think that it’s a good step to be “there” in some way in your kid’s gaming hobby.

    If he wasn’t learning about the Geneva Conventions, he’d probably just be learning spawn points and weapon attributes, regardless of how accurate the game is. He’ll probably remember this, and it’s a step toward parents acknowledging that gaming is just something kids do now, and using parenting techniques to be involved.

  71. Jack says:

    @#183 POSTED BY ROBULUS

    You can have that if you also maintain that James Bond movies are “just sick”. Otherwise its a stupid generalisation from a similarly gifted mind.

    James Bond films are third person fantasies. Nothing wrong with it.

    “First Person Shooters” are—by their nature and name—simply games where you are the first person, it is your perspective and you are the shooter.

    They aren’t called FPNs (First Person Negotiators) or FPEs (First Person Explorers) for a reason.

    I’m not the only one who holds this distinction between old school games and the FPS mired world we’re in.

    Don’t most gamers look upon the Wii and most
    Nintendo games as “weak” because they aren’t mired in the FPS world?

    FWIW, I also think “Slumdog Millionaire” is patronizing and insulting despite it’s feel good image. Oh yeah that and the fact it’s sweeped the Oscars, made $98,020,000 worldwide and it’s child actors made at the most $3,000 each for their work in it’s success.

    I have weird morals. I think some things are unfair.

  72. Anonymous says:

    the good doctor must feel that as long as the kid acts to extend his life as long as possible he can kill others indiscriminately.

  73. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    Holtt, I don’t know why you’re trying to pick a fight with Cory, or failing Cory with me, but neither of us are going to bite. We’re too busy right now.

    We don’t want to give you the idea that we don’t appreciate your comments in general. On the other hand, we’re not your chew-toys. I’ve removed a few of your more belligerent comments, and suspended you for the next couple of days. You’ll be out of the clink in time for the weekend.

    Mike Finch, stop shouting in all caps. I’ve warned you about that before, and it’s covered in the moderation guidelines.

    Nobody should be arguing in all-caps. That which is shouted in all-caps shall lose its vowels. This does not reflect our opinion of the comment itself. It reflects our low opinion of yelling in all-caps.

    Osoman, the story isn’t about the kid’s weight, and neither you nor anyone else here knows enough about the subject to be trashing him in this very public forum. Also, he’s a kid, you’re anonymous, and you’re being a jerk.

    I can ship you your vowels overseas parcel rate, if you want to archive them.

  74. jenjen says:

    I read this story too early on a Sunday morning and in my head confused the Geneva convention with the Berne convention. That at least would make sense in the context of online teen behavior.

    Seriously, I am inclined to find this a pretty cool parenting episode too. Our economy is in the crapper because our ruling class of businesspeople thought the rules didn’t apply to them, that ethics are for sissies. A blog I normally respect that carries money-saving tips has run two stories in the last week with suggestions that border on illegal. OK, maybe because I grew up in Canada I’m a bit of a rule-follower, but I think that at least a little consciousness about ethics is a good thing at any age.

    The exercise thing, pah. Whatever. We can’t afford to have everyone live til they’re 90.

  75. Seattle says:

    As PHD who wrote my dissertation on the Geneva Convention, I feel qualified as Doctor and a Geneva Convention expert to say that the room is to dark and OH, don’t get me started on Martydom

  76. sum.zero says:

    “has anyone sat down with the latest crop of war criminals created in Iraq and asked them what they played?”

    does it really matter? are you implying a connection between video games and violent behaviour? your reasoning would be?

    oh, and the game they play is called capitalism.

  77. Raj77 says:

    that’s a pretty shitty leap of logic, or a troll.

  78. nbobinchak says:

    I don’t know about obesity– It looks like he’s just wearing a Snuggie.
    But this reminds me of when Goldeneye was banned in the house because you could hear people’s bones crunch when you ran them over with a tank.

  79. Gaudeamus says:

    Wow I can’t believe I read all of these comments. I’m sure while I was reading a pile was added.

    We don’t really know what it’s like inside of this household. Perhaps this kid is a history buff. Perhaps he’s of a mindset where this activity his father has devised for him is interesting to him. We can’t say based on a relatively tiny blurb about them compared to the enormity of real life.

    I’m very disappointed that so many people had to condemn this man for his decision based on factors such as this child’s weight, their own home lives as children or parents, and other random things.

    This kid could very well be going out to exercise for more time than he spends playing games. Who can say? Only they can. The circumstances under which this child and parent are living, Evan’s level of intellect, education, and maturity, all have something to bear on the decision the father made. And even if it was askew he made an effort and shame on anyone for criticizing such effort of this parent, *even if* it is misguided, which we don’t know. The context of this lesson surely could not all have been revealed in this article so, so much of what’s been commented here is speculation and conjecture. If nothing else both parties can learn from this as can we all.

    There’s a small child (6) living in my home. We, the parents, know her better than anyone else. We know when she can watch something or not. We know whether she can play a videogame and what sorts of lessons she can take from it. Sometimes people think the content she is exposed to is questionable. I got flak for showing her “You Get More Salami with Modigliani” and some Modigliani works, because “she’s too young for that” (you know, those woman-bits she’s going to have one day). For a long time we kept her from videogames only to find that at a friend’s house she was playing Halo with nary a misconception about reality or a nightmare in sight. When questioned about it she said “Halo has pretend bad guys that are just made up of computer programs. If I shot a real person they would be hurt or die and you can’t hit reset to fix it.”

    Sure some people are susceptible to blurring the line between fantasy and reality, and sure some people would never learn a thing from this father’s experiment. But I don’t expect this to be one of those cases. In a household where a child at 13 is even able to be expected to understand the Geneva Conventions and where a parent brings it up as a learning tool, you’re not going to find below-average thinking and you’re not going to find run-of-the-mill behavior. Don’t judge because it’s not what you expect. You don’t know what that household is like but I bet it’s a sight better than households where the parents don’t even know the names of the games their kids are playing and expect that all of their education should take place in school.

  80. mrsomuch says:

    @236

    Shaddappyaface! Bitchy McBitchson!

  81. Anonymous says:

    A single picture of a teenager captures that moment in time. My kid went through growth spurts. Take a picture of him from 6 months ago, and you’d say he was on the path to obesity if not already there. Look at him now and try not to turn us in to Child Protective Services for starving the lad. 4 inches in 6 months, yeah, we’ve got a new wardrobe.

    Kids these days often don’t exercise enough. But a single picture of a single kid shouldn’t be used as evidence that he’s obese.

  82. mongolhorde says:

    Can anyone who plays first person shooters deny that they desensitize you to violence?

    Here’s a fun fact from the book Microtrends. 20% of California 16 year olds want to be snipers when they grow up. That isn’t join the army, that’s become snipers. That’s because the sniper in Castle Wolfenstein and such is so friggin’ cool. It gives you a real sense of power. (Caveat – I’m approximating the statistic as I read the book a year ago.)

    Of course, the army does have to do more physical training on its new recruits as they tend to be fatter and more out of shape than recruits a few years back.

    The Ad hominem attack on the doctor did not impress.

    That said, I plan on doing very similar things with my own kids when they come to video game age.

  83. bondjamesbond says:

    I say, chaps…

    The debate about the impact of video games in terms of keeping youngsters glued to the tv screen and the violent nature of first person shoot-em-ups has been raging for a long time…. feel free to continue it here, I’m sure there will quickly be a resolution to the debate…

    But, since we’re at it, here’s my two cents worth…

    It seems that we’ve a situation here where the parent, rather than set firm and reasonable limits to this kind of activity (specifically the hours spent developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other physical maladies, as well as being desensitized to the violence) , may have taken the easy route to justify not creating a conflict. It’s evident that he had misgivings about it to begin with, after reading reviews on the game, I’m thinking his gut feeling was correct.

    I agree with those that feel that, just perhaps, Evan should creep out of the basement once in a while and get some sunshine. Dad’s statement that “he’s doing what he does a lot of” communicates a problem.

    And, Dad should probably invest in a camera that takes color shots if he’s going to continue to submit photos to popular blogs, ‘cuz this dark and confusing shot does not lend credibility to any thought that he’s doing the best thing for his son.

  84. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    pshaffer @1:

    I’m a doctor, and –

    “– I should have known better”? He’s not your patient. You haven’t examined him, or taken his history. You also can’t make out the details of that murky picture any better than the rest of us. Being a doctor doesn’t give you some kind of magic right to make insensitive, uninformed remarks about a kid who’s probably reading the thread.

    USfoodpolicy @19: Yes. Rules make war better. While they may make war slightly more bearable to the people calling the shots, they make it enormously more bearable to the captured enemy soldier who isn’t killed out of hand, and at the end of the war goes home to his family.

    Raian @29:

    Cory, I am going to offer my opinion even though I know you do not want to hear it.

    You’re a pseudonymous commenter. How brave are we supposed to think you are?

    My next point is about you. … It seems like no one can have an opinion but you.

    That’s a silly conclusion to come to, given how many people are demonstrably getting away with having opinions in this thread. Cory’s vigorous response to pshaffer’s comment is the kind of thing that will inevitably happen when people read the comments other people are making, and react to them in a conversational fashion. If you want to avoid that, you need to hang out in one of those fora where people post comments, but nobody ever reads or responds to them.

    D3 @46:

    The first poster, Pshaffer, was was only trying to bring reality into the discussion,

    How can you tell? Can you point to the part of his comment that demonstrates that point?

    although part of the comment was less than tactful.

    You could say that.

    Cory’s response was unnecessarily insulting and offensive. Cory’s comment should be disemvowelled.

    Nice try, D3. Not a hope in hell of succeeding; but a real cute try.

    Can you figure out which part of my reply indicates that I’m laughing at you?

    MikeFinch @51, Please don’t shout in all-caps.

    Holtt @60, I’ve seen you hang out in comment threads where one or more participants were committing far more and far worse verbal mayhem. I don’t recall you saying a thing about it. Forgive me for thinking that these hair-fine scruples of yours stem more from an interest in taking potshots at Cory than from an abstract love of civility for its own sake.

    Holtt @61:

    Here, disemvowel this one. It was fun to write.

    Bite me. I’ll leave it up so everyone can see the standard of behavior to which you hold yourself.

    Buddy66 @84, good point.

    AudioTherapist @88, I strongly suspect you’re right.

    Tenn @91, I humbly apologize for not disemvowelling him, but he made such an excellent example that I couldn’t help myself. Can you forgive me?

  85. PaulR says:

    Wow, is someone actually reading every post?

  86. sum.zero says:

    jack

    those old-school games you’re talking about were shooters too for the most part: side-scrolling, top-down, isometric, vector, 2d-3d, etc.

    and it’s all fantasy, whether you’re piloting a virtual spaceship battling the evil alien horde or a virtual body shooting nazi zombies. people who can’t readily make that distinction have other problems and, imho games are probably pretty low on the list of the things likely to set them off.

  87. robulus says:

    Hi Nosehat, interesting post.

    I think key to Cory’s reaction to comment #1 is that the commenter is identifying as a Medical Doctor, and couching their opinion in that qualification. They are implying that it carries extra weight.

    Accordingly, there was some extra weight added to the reply. I think the exchange ended up counter-balanced nicely.

  88. dunnright says:

    @ #11 unicorn breath

    “man you guys sure made this un-fun really quickly.”

    Exactly why I rarely, if ever view the discussions.

    “i think it’s a great example of parenting 2.0.”

    Agreed!!

  89. robulus says:

    …and just as I hit post I realised I was using the most innappropriate metaphor imaginable. Apologies for that…

  90. the_boy says:

    @142 (also @70)

    I play FPSes
    Violence in real life scares the hell out of me, and when my friends and I were jumped recently, I was completely unable to fight, because it was absurd and stupid to me. Certainly, years (and I do mean years) of training from mid-childhood to now did nothing to enable me to participate in that fight.

    Here is the anecdotal evidence you asked for.

  91. Ernunnos says:

    An exercise in feel-good nonsense. COD:WAW doesn’t give the player the option to violate the Geneva Convention. Such a restriction is pointless. You might as well say he can only play as long as nobody in the game wears a fancy frock. There’s no button for that.

    “Uh, ok, psycho dad.”

    Having your kid read the Geneva Convention is a good idea – most people have no idea what constitutes a violation – but that has nothing to do with the game. If he did read it, he’s going to notice that it has nothing to do with the game, and that your linking of the two was arbitrary and ideological rather than rationally derived.

    Once may not hurt too much. Doing it a couple of times is a really quick way to lose credibility with kids, who are experts at detecting hypocrisy and inconsistencies in others.

  92. uknowbetter says:

    This post was quite a hoot.

    The main point of the Geneva Convention protections was to get soldiers, nation-states, and various other entities to follow the rules of war and then they would be accorded the protections laid down in the Geneva Conventions. If you don’t follow those rules, you don’t get those protections. I wonder if his father explained that to his son. It’s definitely something many liberals have a difficult time grasping.

  93. robulus says:

    @Gaudeamus
    Where’s the line here?

    There are a lot of problems with Jacks argument, but where to draw the line is not one of them. It’s where the game involves shooting, from the perspective of the first person.

    Thats it. There’s the line right there. Duck Hunt has crossed it, and its sick, and forget working with Jack if you are into Duck Hunt.

    It’s nice and simple.

    I really enjoyed your post and was a bit sad to dismiss it with a cheap one liner, but the opportunity was golden.

    My boy is only 17 months. I would love to be able to talk to him about Thomas the Tank Engine, and point out that the Island of Sodor has vastly overcapitalised on rail infrastructure, the fat controller is a mouthpiece for entrenched class stratification, and that the crew aren’t really useful at all! They are crippled by vanity and petty jealousies, constantly failing to complete even very simple tasks!

    But he loves it, and I think he’ll be able to develop healthy views on class, relationships and appropriate transport planning, regardless.

    It’s a brave person who criticises other’s parenting. Especially when the family concerned appear to be communicating well and striking balance.

  94. knowles says:

    This is stupid. Instead of a kid learning to treat games like games and reality like reality you’re teaching it to treat a game like reality.

    Relax, it’s just a game. How about one hour of game time for one hour of exercise?

    Teaching a kid to treat video games like reality is how you train a school shooter. gg.

  95. Waterlilygirl says:

    OH MY GOD! I can’t believe all the comments posted here. I’m going to simple it all down folks…

    This post was about a father making a deal with his kid. It’s about a father paying attention to his child and his child’s activities (in this case a video game). The deal required more thought and discussion than “If you take out the trash for the next 3 months I’ll let you play the game”. It required the kid to actually LEARN something and the reward was that he gets the game. I see nothing wrong with that.

    Now, about his weight… he’s 13. I know that I was a chubby girl until I hit puberty. My younger brother was a chubby kid until he hit puberty (and believe me, he looked a lot like this kid in the face). But once the hormones kicked in and growth spurts took place we slimmed out. I grew up playing video games and reading. I didn’t play many sports, but I wasn’t always cooped up inside all the time. To me, the boy looks like a typical 13yr old. The photo is black and white and he’s in a dark sweatshirt that I bet is oversized. I’m not sure anyone here can actually point out exactly how overweight the kid is (if at all).

    To the person that commented that playing games becomes habitual and obsessive, I will say as fact, as someone who at age 37 with no kids and currently owning 3 different gaming consols, you only get obsessed until you win the game or get bored of playing it. I grew up playing games. First with Pong, then Atari 2600, Nintendo, Game Boy, Playstation, PS2, Game Cube and now a Wii. I hold down a 40 hour job, socialize 3+ times a week with my friends, date, live in a clean apartment, have other hobbies I gravitate to, and am pretty outgoing. So as someone who has grown up playing video games her whole life, still gets excited over a new one, and is a normal well-adjusted person, I say to anyone who complains about the evils of video games… Just shut up. Seriously, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    And finally, it has been under study and proven that kids that play video games tend to be better thinkers and better at problem solving since playing video games makes you think outside the box. I’m not making this up it was in USA Today
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2008-08-18-video-games-learning_N.htm

  96. toothpicktower says:

    Yes, this was a good teaching opportunity. Lines of communication were kept open. A little bit of history was taught. But seriously folks, the dad is being duped. No one has yet to explain how you can possibly violate the Geneva Conventions in CoD. I looked at the link @37 mentions. Just a walk-through. People who are rooting for the dad and his Solomon-like wisdom shouldn’t be so smug. I will stand corrected if someone can show otherwise.

  97. Raian says:

    @MRSOMUCH

    Obviously Cory is a contributor to this blog, and I commend him for his work. I also thank him for in his magnanimity in so much that he has allowed jerks like me to throw in my two cents.

    Now my comments about Real versus Fantasy have nothing to do with intelligence whatsoever, but more to do with the psychic landscape that our conscious lives within. This is perhaps too Lacanian of me, but I really believe it to be true that “the real is impossible”, and that rather than confuse and mix the real with fantasy, the proper parental act should be to be very clear with his/her children that a video-game no matter how real it seems cannot compare to the reality… and in-fact, a video game is really just an exercise in exercising the parts of your brain which control spatial logic, and are a form of art.

    It would therefore be much more sensible for the father to take this opportunity to discuss art, war’s influence on art, or perhaps cognition and spatial logic.

    I also think there is nothing wrong with a father teaching his son about the geneva convention– but I think the context should be appropriate, and that the father should not need a colourful fiction to introduce a very serious thing.

    For example, let’s say the son was a film buff and watched the movie hounddog which shows a scene where Dakota Fanning is raped. Perhaps the trained response would be to sit the child down and take the opportunity to talk to the child about rape in society, perhaps encourage him to read the criminal code, or learn about real rapists… that way the child would gain a new found respect for the scene in the eyes of the parent. By doing that your are psychically disconnecting the son from the actual act of rape and replacing it with it’s fictional, contained , watered-down counterpart displayed in the film.

    The appropriate thing to do would be to sit the child down and speak about the artist’s use of rape as a vehicle for whatever message he is trying to get across, or other critical analysis of art and film. The real act of rape does not compare in any form the fictional rape portrayed in a filme– and by making that connection you make a faulty association, which is harmful to the child (or adult).

    So the point being, to teach a child about war is one thing, to associate it with fiction is another. We need to take the subject of war seriously, and not to boil it down in to a fantasy. It could be within this child’s future to be forced to fight a war– and for his own psychological well being, and for the well being of the rest of the world– false associations, and confusions of the real world and fantasies should not be made.

  98. sburnap says:

    Maybelle Stearns said: Parents themselves need to play the computer game obsessively to understand the actual impacts of such deep involvement, even if only from the standpoint of an adult.

    The average player of games like “Call of Duty” is in his thirties. This is, in fact, one of the core problems: Kids often end up playing games (like, say, “Fallout 3″) that are very clearly meant for adults because some parents just assume that videogames are “kids stuff”.

    Of course, some parents let their six year old watch “12 Monkeys”…

  99. Raj77 says:

    Ernunnos; pretty much what I was trying to put diplomatically, ha.

  100. Telecustard says:

    The consequences for violating the Conventions for this kid are pretty light. I should think that a proper court-martial would be essential, especially since courts-martial are bound by the Conventions – it would really drive the lesson home. Of course, if he reaches that level in the game where he can torture prisoners, and use white phosphorus and depleted uranium, and he decides to do so, he might be able to learn some practical lessons about how to get around the conventions. Getting attorneys and judges to issue memorandums redefining the rules so that he isn’t really breaking them, that sort of thing. Also, if everyone playing the game keeps good operational security and doesn’t tip the media off to any violations, then unless the governing body overseeing this conflict (dad) has monitoring personnel on the ground observing at all times on the battlefield, most violations will go unnoticed.

    Yeah I know. Ridiculous. Make the kid write a book report so dad knows he gets it, then let him play the game as if it’s a game.

    What’s next?

    “I bought my son Rapelay, on the condition that he treat the women characters with respect.”

  101. Jack says:

    #190 POSTED BY SUM.ZERO , FEBRUARY 22, 2009 10:35 PM

    those old-school games you’re talking about were shooters too for the most part: side-scrolling, top-down, isometric, vector, 2d-3d, etc.

    You mean “shooters” like Pac-Man? Tetris? Q-Bert? Quix? Pong? Breakout? Donkey Kong? Crazy Climber? Pole Position?

    Also I think you miss the point: I think the first person perspective immerses you more into the conceit that you are committing these acts whereas when I played Missile Command I never felt I was a missile… But in the case of Missile Command I learned an amazing lesson of nuclear war… You could NEVER win that game… And when the game ended those big “THE END” words popped up on the screen.

    Also, old school games never really allowed you to win. You just played and played and played and played. Then when the NES came out the concept of games that had deep story-lines and where there were “bosses” and goals became popularized. Prior to that, home games were just mirror copies of arcade games. But with the NES, suddenly deep story-lines appeared so staying at home for hours, and hours, and hours trying to “win” a game became the norm.

    And it still is.

    Katamari Damacy is good. And most Wii games are. FPS’s? I have little respect for people who spend sick amounts of time in front of them.

  102. palindrome says:

    @ #1: Ooooh, Doctorowned!

  103. PaulR says:

    Mongolhorde @ 142

    Can anyone who plays first person shooters deny that they desensitize you to violence?

    Well, maybe not them what plays ‘em, but fer sure them what studies ‘em:
    “Link between video games and aggression dependent on children’s personality”
    http://www.swinburne.edu.au/corporate/marketing/mediacentre/core/releases_article.php?releaseid=884

    FTL: Professor Devilly said the research showed that the type of temperament was able to predict people’s reactions before and after game-play with an average 73% accuracy rate. This included predicting children whose aggression was lessened by playing the violent games.
    [Emphasis all mine...]

  104. Auto Parts for Brains says:

    At first read, this appeared to me as a cool idea. I guess the author was trying to dispel her fears that her son might acquire some sort of liking to shooting people and blowing things apart. It is also actually commendable that she took time to get into a compromise with her son so he can keep on playing the game.

    The more I think about it though, I think making the game a tad more real for her son might be going towards the very thing that she feared. Admittedly, I for one have played lots of violent games which allow me to kill mutants and aliens and other humans. I cannot imagine doing the things I do online in real life where people really die and pain really exists. It is the idea that it is just a game that makes me capable of making an avatar perform such violent acts. Though I get absorbed in the game, never have I lost my grasp of what’s real or not.

    What she did is to make the game more real for her son and having him follow rules kinda reinforce this. Now, every time he kills a few pixels, he is thinking how they could be real humans. I dunno, I guess it is different for every person. As a thought though, I think it is stupid for people to think that just because a person enjoys war games and shooting things online, that they will actually do it in real life. It is the resulting separation from society and lack of real relationships that produce the problem, not what happens on the screen.

  105. Razzabeth says:

    I think this parent didn’t really understand the game as well as he thought he did. For one thing, about his rule that the son’s team-mates must follow. This kid, realistically, is not going to tell his team the rule every time he signs on to the game. Team mates are randomly assigned in the game lobby and most of the people who play are dudes in their 20s and 30s. If he says on the speaker, “Hey, uh, guys, please follow the Geneva Conventions, because if you don’t my dad will make me stop playing for a little while.” the responses will be something like, “*@&$ you, you little *#@&@%”. They might even kick him from the game for being weird. I mean seriously, did he think for a minute that the most immature dudes in existence would deign to follow the request of a 10 year old? Or did he make that rule knowing they wouldn’t follow it, in order to force his son to take numerous periodic breaks in a way that would frustrate the kid worse than anything?

    Secondly, other posters pointed out that there is very little in the game that actually violates the Conventions, other than the use of one gas item or something (forget what it’s called, don’t play the game often enough to know). If all he has to do is not use that one item, then why even bother?

    Thirdly, is Duder really gonna sit there and watch his kid play to make sure he or his team mates don’t violate the Conventions? This behavior is frivolous at best and plain snooty at worst. It reminds me of the style of parenting that the ole in-laws do to my boyfriend’s little brother. They are constantly heckling him in this way too, and I feel bad for the little guy. He’s a good kid, and good kids don’t fall off-track from a mere thing like video games. He’d have a lot more fun if his parents would let him be a little more free-range.

  106. Anonymous says:

    I used to love video games, still do in small doses. But recently, taking my 6 year old son to a RC airplane show, and later to a Model Train show . . . I was shocked that the average age of participants in both shows was mid 50′s+

    I remember lots of kids being into those thing back 30 years ago, when I was young too. So I talked to the guys about it. They universally bemoaned the fact that kids today don’t do “real” stuff, they sit with iPods, TV’s and computers – and play with glowing boxes of various shapes and sizes.

    And get fat.

    As the world economy tanks (and baby, remember the song “Its only just begun”). Perhaps a nice outcome, will be kids learning how to play/learn/work with more hands on, total brain/skill immersion skills in the 3d world. And not just simulated/fed to them!

    If not, we deserve to reap what we so.

    And BTW, I’m a full time pro geek, a computer technician. But I also read history . . . .

  107. D3 says:

    The first poster, Pshaffer, was was only trying to bring reality into the discussion, although part of the comment was less than tactful. Cory’s response was unnecessarily insulting and offensive. Cory’s comment should be disemvowelled.

  108. ArnoDick says:

    Does the Geneva Convention have rules about calling people fags for hiding in a tower the whole match with a PTRS?

    Anyways, there’s flamethrowers in WaW, which I’m pretty sure are banned by Geneva, so this kid is going to be quitting a lot of games.

  109. GregLondon says:

    had to go to the computer store tonight. They had Call of Duty 4 set up on a PC. It’s funny how the graphics and sound and whatnot have all improved so much compared to Castle Wolfenstein, and yet, the game is still so much like the mazes in Castle Wolfenstein. You have to do everything a certain way.

    I played for a while. Didn’t get into any situation where I could have killed a civilian, even though some ops were conducted in urban areas.

    The closest I think you come to violating the Geneva Convention is killing a wounded enemy soldier. First time I walked by a wounded enemy, he rolled over and blew me away. After that, if they were on the ground, I’d put a round in them just in case.

    I don’t recall any of them surrendering, so technically it isn’t a violation. But the game doesn’t seem to have any way to deal with prisoners.

    You can accidentally kill your own people with friendly fire. If you do that, you die too and the game goes back to the start of that level. So that violation is punished as good as getting yourself killed.

    I imagine if there were an urban building-clearing level sometiem later in the game that it could have civilians and if you kill them, you have to start over.

    Overall, it’s a tactical puzzle game like wolfenstein. When I started playing someone had gotten to a more advanced level. I was in the middle of a field when suddenly a line of bad guys and APC’s are heading directly towards me. Somehow, you’re supposed to figure out how to avoid being spotted. You can’t shoot your way out because its you against probably a platoon of men and three APC’s. But there is probably only one and exactly one solution, and if you can’t figure it out, you keep dying. I ended up restarting the game from the beginning because I was stumped and couldn’t even figure out how to move the character.

    It’s also a very tactical game, like Wolfenstein. I’ve always wanted to see a game that could be fluid enough that you have a civilian population and if you keep killing civilians you make things worse for yourselve because they start fighting you. If you avoid civilian casualties, they remain neutral or maybe even help you once in a while.

    BUt that would require a much more fluid game.

    As far as I was concerned, anyone who played this was just as normal as someone who played Guitar Hero (I’ve played that one too) or any other genre of game. While I was playing, a couple of different times, people would stop and watch me play and ask what game it was and we’d have a polite conversation. When it was time to go, some kid was behind me and he very politely asked me if I was done and could he play.

    Made me chuckle, actually.

  110. Anonymous says:

    Lanval sez,

    I’m of two minds:

    On the one hand, I applaud the parent here; yes, there are some better options in terms of parenting surely. Personally (I’m a parent and an academic) I find that real life often interferes with my ability to treat every moment of my child’s life in terms of best practice. Often, I’m stuck with “something is better than nothing” and I have to say that getting your child to read up on the various ideological/political attempts to deal with the insanity of warfare is about a 9.5 on the parenting scale. Jeez, the kid is 13 ~ I would’ve refused on principle at that age and I *liked* reading…

    On the other hand,
    I’m wary of the kind of elitist liberal salve that the attempts to legislate warfare represent. War, at its base level is about survivial, “Us vs. Them”. If you have the luxury of worrying about how you’re treating the enemy, then there IS no issue of survival.

    Countries like the US (and any other than I can think of) violate the conventions of “civilized warfare” (the defining oxymoron) whenever it suits their needs, even as they accuse others of doing the same. As Bush (and the rest of us for tolerating him and his facist regime) has shown, we’re more than happy to violate basic civil rights, let alone those of “enemy combatants” (and Bush, in a moment of sublime rhetoric expertise, simply renamed them so they weren’t enemy combatants).

    Why, I wonder, should the kid in question take the conventions of “civilized warfare” seriously when none of the nations in question do?

    Lanval

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      On the other hand, I’m wary of the kind of elitist liberal salve that the attempts to legislate warfare represent. War, at its base level is about survival, “Us vs. Them”.

      I had rather gotten the impression that modern warfare was about Our Strategic Oil Interests vs. Them. We go to war so that we can keep driving Hummers, not because our survival is at stake.

  111. Takuan says:

    @41 it is a straight forward question. There is a host of mostly young men who were in the non-Iraqi military and have participated in war crimes. They are all of the age and background to have played video games from infancy right up to pulling the trigger in Iraq, Many of these games were violence games. Has anyone asked them directly if they feel any connection between the games they played and the crimes they committed?

  112. imon32red says:

    I love it. I actually like the game too. However I have thought that it is too violent for my son to play so I have never bought it. The compromise is brilliant.

  113. noen says:

    @ Sun Zero
    “are you implying a connection between video games and violent behaviour? your reasoning would be?”

    I can’t speak for Takuan but for me it does appear that people are more aggressive after playing first person shooters. Though not so much with multi-player role playing games. Young children should not play violent FPS’s nor watch violent TV. They imitate what they see. Older adolescents are better able to separate pixels from reality. That, anyway, is my current opinion.

    “the game they play is called capitalism.”

    There are many games played in a war zone but capitalism is not one of them. I would say that the main game played by our ruling elite, Dem and GOP, is Lemon Socialism.

  114. jasongnc says:

    When people say Geneva Convention they are usually referring to all the twentieth century war conventions like the Hague Convention, etc. I have even had friends in the military talk about how they were taught not to intentionally aim large caliber weapons at personnel, only at equipment, and said this was due to the Geneva convention. So with the CoD in mind, basically anytime you fire .50 caliber or larger weaponry directly at enemy combatants you would be violating the virtual Hague Convention.

    Of course in RL, modern militaries get around this by targeting equipment such as canteens or helmets, etc that just happens to be currently being worn.

  115. mdh says:

    @rainand @ Mikefinch

    “My next point is about you. You push your agenda with tyrant’s wit.”

    Welcome to CORY’S BLOG.

    Enjoy the ice cream boys, please stop pooping in it.

  116. Dead Air says:

    One look at that photo of the obese gamer kid and I can’t help bu think that responsible parents would be encouraging him to do things that get him exercise more than googling the Geneva Convention.

    Perhaps actually going outside and shooting baskets or chopping wood is too much of a fantasy for the 21st century, but at least some Wii games that make the participant MOVE would be advisable.

  117. FoetusNail says:

    Takuan, easy brother, don’t let that simple shit upset you.

    Finally have some time alone, and have read much of this thread, though not all.

    Doctor wrong, Cory overreacted, right.

    Now as far as the GC goes, I’ve always been conflicted when it comes to rules of conduct in an endeavor that is already a violation of our desire to think of ourselves as civilized and peaceful. We have trouble in this day and age of admitting the truth. We enjoy war, until it’s our turn to go. We enjoy the illusion of valor, the dream of chivalry. However, this illusion rarely survives first contact.

    Our troops should go into battle without body armor or helmets in unarmored pickup trucks without Cobras, Apaches, UAV’s, and gunships circling overhead, without medevac or surgical units, then they can honestly accept the medals they wear home.

    What is happening in our name is a disgusting yet legal slaughter and we celebrate their bravery. Support our troops, while they sit one moment at their monitors, then another at home for dinner.

    We are bloodthirsty.
    Drink deep.
    Without shame.
    Litter the trees,
    With their corpses.
    Everyone take a shot,
    Turn the grinder.
    ——————————-

    Not for ideal, but duty,
    Does the warrior enter battle.
    Into debate he will not be drawn.
    Suffering quietly fallen brothers,
    He endures without complaint and
    Will accept no laurels,
    Nor drink long from victories cup
    Without homage to the vanquished.
    For they are to theirs as he to his,
    Never forgotten.

  118. mightymouse1584 says:

    why cant anything be just a game anymore?

  119. mikefinch says:

    I agree with Raian

    And still – nobody is noteing that the father is willing to punish his son for the in game actions of someone who could be on the other side of earth?

    Yeah i deffinitly agree with Raian. Agree about the agenda thing too – i would say 90% of what has come on BB lately is very audience specific. (unless you live in San Fransisco and love the smell of your farts you wont like it…) Not to mention i am finding these message boards to be nothing but a shameless hand job to the author.

    Read this again:

    If his team-mates violate the Convention then play stops and Call of Duty goes away for a while.

    WHY M TH NLY PRSN THT SS PRBLM HR?????

  120. Takuan says:

    @191 “liberals”? You’re a jackass. Just a jackass.

  121. Anonymous says:

    When I think back to the thousands of multi-colored ghosts I consumed during the pac-man wars of my adolescence, I am overcome with shame and horror.

    One can only hope that the pac-people will finally settle their differences with their ghostly neighbors so that they might one day live in peace and harmony.

  122. GregLondon says:

    robulus:There are certainly comparisons to be made with Frogger.

    Yeah, that stuff annoys me. There was a bunch of really thick brush and trees off to one side. I tried crawling over to the brush because I figured the APC’s wouldn’t go into it. I made it there, but the game wouldn’t actually allow me to enter the brush area.

    I tried the frogger approach probably half a dozen times. The last thing I tried was hiding in the brush and when the computer wouldn’t let me crawl into it, that was when I rebooted the game to the beginning.

    three or four diesel powered APC’s would be something you could hear coming up on you.

  123. Ugly Canuck says:

    There’s no need for war. We need international criminal justice, backed by US muscle. That means we need rules: which conduct is forbidden, and a means to enforce effective sanctions for violations.
    We need to support the Geneva Conventions.
    The fact is that nukes have made “total” war obsolete, unsurvivable.
    For this I thank the USA, and always shall. No joke: without nukes, IMO there would have already been WW III, and WW IV would be firing up just about now.
    Until nukes, large global conflicts had been popping up roughly once a generation, on average, since…jeez, centuries.
    Don’t compare us to the barbarous past: we all read now, and we all know that the rest of the world’s peoples are humans too, just like us.
    Give peace a chance: we need several generations more, to work off the “every generation gets a world war” mentality.
    Some day all that will be left of war will be these stupid computer games, fit only to amuse adolescents. Like “knights & dragon” or “cowboy & indians” games are today for children.
    As an aside I have observed that the US finds a reason to send its armed forces out to fight somebody every ten years or so. Gotta keep up that military spending: tough to do when things get peaceful. And even with those wars, things HAVE gotten peaceful. It’s just the greater availability of info that makes it seem as if things have gotten more violent between nations.

  124. rhandy says:

    I feel like a total dweeb. I think following those pesky Geneva conventions ruined my game. I kept trying to ascertain (yes, ascertain) the combatant status of each enemy fighter only to get knifed each time!

  125. Destructor says:

    >Can anyone who plays first person shooters deny that they desensitize you to violence?

    I play FPShooters frequently, and I will absolutely deny this- I am as sensitive to violence as anyone you’re likely to meet. Violence on the computer is NOTHING like violence in reality. You may as well say that reading newspaper stories about violence desensitizes you to violence- they are totally different experiences.

    As for the OP, while I think it’s admirable that a parent is getting involved with his kid’s leisure time and being a part of it and using it as a teaching moment, the whole reason they don’t allow 18+ games into Australia is because they know that parents buy games for their children without regarding ratings- as a consequence of this, adults aren’t allowed certain games because the government thinks they’ll be passed on to kids.

    Now, this doesn’t seem like one of those cases where a parent just mindlessly buys a child GTA4 (which I saw in the store when I bought mine, and it made me really mad)- the parent seems very involved in their child’s life, and I think that obviously some 13-year olds have the mind and maturity of someone much older and I think parents can make judgment calls to say, well, my child is 13, but they can handle a bit of blood and gore. I watched R15 movies like Aliens when I was 13 I am sure and now they probably wouldn’t even be given that rating as the culture has shifted. CoD4 is rated 15+ in Australia, the highest rating there is- that’s the same rating as Deadwood. Open the gate to one and aren’t you just setting yourself up for an argument where you’ve opened the gate to all of them? I’m not saying kids shouldn’t watch/play/read certain things before they are ‘supposed’ to, but parents taking ratings seriously is something I am generally behind, although who knows how my views will mellow over time.

  126. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Nobody gets killed in Hell, or in Heaven either.

    My plan is to respectfully decline admission to either. They both sound horribly tedious.

  127. zuzu says:

    Ohhh, I see, you’re a *radiologist*. Well that would certainly qualify you to look at a black-and-white picture of an adolescent child, and, without knowing a single damned thing about him, render a judgment on his health and lifestyle.

    Aw, I was hoping he was Dr. Gregory House. ^_^

  128. Sam says:

    Call of Duty makes you execute prisoners at one point in the campaign. You have to do it or you can’t beat the game.

    So good luck with that.

    Now “Nazi Zombies” – the bonus game at the end – I don’t think the geneva convention mentions zombies, but I’m pretty sure it’s ethical to use a flame thrower in that case.

  129. Sean Grimm says:

    I had an entirely different message written out until it hit me–Call of Duty is rated M for mature, not T for teen. It is going to be pretty disappointing after all this work the kid did to research the Geneva Conventions when his dad picks up the game and says, “Oh this is rated M, my mistake, you can’t play it.” Unless that is a simple typo.

  130. jackgreg says:

    Foosball is the devil! No son of mine is gonna play any foos-ball.

  131. St_Stevie says:

    It’s nice to know *someone* is honoring the Geneva Conventions.

  132. Anonymous says:

    When I was in the military, it was officially not allowed to punish a person for another person’s action (of course, it was done anyway as it is extremely efficient to “outsource” a soldier’s punishment to his fellow soldiers). Bit of a mixed message there, enforcing the Geneva convention, but punishing the child for the actions of his friends.

  133. sburnap says:

    @49 There is little evidence that the willingness of young men to commit atrocities in Iraq was any higher than in Vietnam. A lack of videogame training didn’t prevent Mai Lai.

    It’s good that the father is involved, but the moral latitude allowed in a game is pretty much defined by the game designer. I’ve never played CoD, but most FPSes have little moral dimension, with everyone armed and everyone shooting at the other team always.

    But it is just pixels and trying to put real world rules on these games often makes no sense. I’ve been playing a lot of Burnout Paradise these days. My young son calls it the “car crash game”. Should I insist that if he is to play, that he follow the speed limit, always try to avoid crashes, and stop to exchange insurance info when he does?

    In regards to exercise…yeah, you can’t tell how much exercise a kid is getting from a photo but regardless…every kid *should* be getting exercise.

  134. robulus says:

    @Jack

    Why is a James Bond movie different? Do you think a movie audience, watching Bond shoot a bad guy, is thinking “hmmmm. This is certainly an interesting dilema. I don’t approve of violence but that Bond chap is in a pickle, all right. I’m sure glad I have the emotional distance from this portrayal to form valid ideas about violence and society!”

    Nup. They are immersed in the experience, identifying with the protagonist, James Bond, and experiencing the thrill of a fantasy gun fight.

    I think it is reasonable to say that the experience for players of video games can be stronger than that for similar movies, and it is the job of regulators to assess how different. But it is incremental, not monumental.

    CoD is no more “sick” than a war action movie. If you think war movies are “sick”, then by all means lump CoD in with them. If not, then you really are placing too much emphasis on the perspective of the viewer.

  135. jimmydare says:

    I think this is a great idea — and this kind of moral-play is becoming more and more interesting as game narrative gets more sophisticated. BioShock actually worked morality into the story line: even if you played as good you were forced to do something against your will, and the developers very smartly figured out how draw that moral dilemma into the narrative.

    That said, if your son really is interested in World War II, he should shelve Call of Duty for the far superior Brothers In Arms, Road to Hill 30, which is accurate to the square foot in terms of the battlefields, and also teaches players that killing with a rifle at range is not as easy as it looks. It’s altogether a much more realistic use of the history; Call of Duty is essentially Halo with a WW2 background.

  136. Brettspiel says:

    I think perhaps Dad is not as informed as he should be in either Call of Duty or the Geneva Conventions, and is letting his lbrl prntng guilt get the better of his common sense.

    The Geneva Convention of 1929 is what was in effect during WWII and concerned treatment of prisoners of war.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Convention_(1929)

    CoD, as far as I know, allows players no interaction with PoWs in a capacity that would violate the Geneva Conventions.

    A better lesson would be to study the Hague Convention and the Geneva Protocol to the Hague Convention, which governs weapons usable in combat.

    I don’t know the implications of Hague and Geneva Protocol in CoD, but I suspect it would have very limited application, if any, as weapon availability in the game, if era appropriate, would naturally follow Hague and Geneva protocol (no chemical or gas weapons, no hollow point bullets, no poisons, etc).

  137. Ugly Canuck says:

    Yeah, Robulus, computer/video games are not my thing, it’s true. Sigh.

  138. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Jenonymous, I am insufficiently omniscient to enforce such rules. I would have to give up my day job or keep the children in leg shackles.

    What you’ve said is certainly what I tell them, though! ^^

  139. theLadyfingers says:

    @51.

    The Geneva Convention does not forbid the use of large calibre weapons on personnel. Since it generally aims to prevent cruelty, it doesn’t follow that a large calibre weapon is more cruel than a small calibre weapon. Rather the converse, since a larger calibre weapon increases the likelihood of a quick (merciful) kill. I’m not sure of the statues of hateful things like flechettes or buckshot, but there’s no upper limit on what you use to tear a human torso in half.

    The old M16 quad-fifty ostensibly-anti-aircraft gun got the nickname “Meatchopper” for it’s role in Korea. Good times.

  140. spazzm says:

    I took one look at the picture and thought “hoo boy, it’s going to be a fat-flame-fest” – but 160 posts and people being told to “piss off”?

  141. sum.zero says:

    jack

    how about space invaders, galaxian, zaxxon, galaga, asteroids, centipede, robotron, defender, contra, combat! [atari 2600 ftw!] and on and on and on? there have always been plenty of shooters.

    further, there continue to be plenty of successful and innovative non-shooters today: sims, spore, mirrors edge, flower, little big planet, braid, etc.

    you’re just cherry-picking to suit your argument.

    i’d also say from extensive personal experience that books are a damn bit more “immersive” than any game i’ve ever played, in any perspective. the stories, characters, environments, and motivations are all usually much more elaborately developed and thus trigger a much more visceral and real emotional reaction in me. i’ve read books in which the protagonist has commited grave crimes or horrendous acts of barbarism and yet i do not feel that i am somehow more immoral or prone to violence for the experience. perhaps that is because i am able to distinguish between fantasy and reality?

    again, if you feel like you “are the missile” when playing a game and correlate that to reality in any sort of 1:1 way there is something else wrong with you and games are probably the least of your problems.

  142. holtt says:

    Interesting concept, but the problem is you probably can’t decide NOT to do something in the game and still “win”. In other words, it’s pretty much out of the player’s control. It’s akin to saying, “OK we’ll watch the movie, but the first time someone swears we turn it off.

    RE: “the other stuff”

    RAIAN and D3 – I’m with you. Corey, your reply to the guy was pretty petulant. It’s the kind of stuff that would get others a warning from the moderator or disemvowelled.

  143. FoetusNail says:

    My son, who is almost five, has created his own super hero, Appleman. He is somewhat obsessed with the color red and apples. Appleman helps people.

    We watched a few of the shows many of his friends watch, but they did not hold his interest. We talked about the “heroes” and what I told him was too many of them, some always, solved their problems with violence. He is to young to grasp all of the underlying conflict in many of the more complex characters. We discussed the importance of solving problems with cleverness and that violence is a last resort.

    Brum is one of his favorites, tricking and chasing the baddies. The baddies eventually make some mistake that allows Brum to prevail.

  144. Jack says:

    @#196 POSTED BY ROBULUS , FEBRUARY 22, 2009 11:51 PM

    Why is a James Bond movie different? Do you think a movie audience, watching Bond shoot a bad guy, is thinking “hmmmm.

    Because no James Bond movie has ever been told via the viewer seeing it 100% from the POV of James Bond.

    100% nobody watches a movie and thinks they are that character. If they do, they tend to be folks like Rupert Pupkin… Or Mark David Chapman…

    A movie is an act of watching a third-person drama.

    A first person shooter is a game where you are the first person and you are shooting.

    That’s the difference. And that’s the reason why FPS’ will never be considered “art” because take away the pretenses and it’s basically murder porn.

    “I am…” = First Person Shooter
    “You are…” = Book perhaps?
    “He is…” = Movie

    Does it mean anything if I point out the only movies that focus on a “first person” experience tend to be horror films like Psycho or Halloween? The only recent one I know that doesn’t take the gore horror route is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly but then again that film is about the physical horror of paralysis.

  145. robulus says:

    Hi Greg, you need to lay in the grass for that bit. You’re wearing really good camo. The trick is you can’t stay in one spot the whole time, and if you move too fast you’ll be spotted.

    There are certainly comparisons to be made with Frogger.

    *spoiler*
    There’s also a nuke detonation in CoD 4. You’re in a chopper, you get caught in the shockwave, and the chopper goes down. You crawl out and die. Thats the end of that characters storyline.

    I really loved CoD 4, I completed it, and that says something for me, I only get through a handful. The fact that I’m fighting against soldiers does make it easier for me to deal with.

    @Sam I don’t remember executing prisoners – that dude that you interogate tries to flee doesn’t he? And there is a sniper assassination. But you know, in both cases it is a matter of great importance to national security.

  146. Jack says:

    #197 POSTED BY SUM.ZERO , FEBRUARY 23, 2009 12:11 AM
    how about space invaders, galaxian, zaxxon, galaga, asteroids, centipede, robotron, defender, contra, combat! [atari 2600 ftw!] and on and on and on? there have always been plenty of shooters.
    * snip *
    you’re just cherry-picking to suit your argument.

    Nope I’m not. Please read my response to Robulous (#198) Can you please look up the dictionary definition of the words: First and Person and Shooter?

    Do you need to have this spelled out for you?

    When you are seeing action directly through the eyes of your character and the main goal of the action is simply killing, I find that sick.

    Top scrolling or side scrolling is simply not the same psychologically.

    i’d also say from extensive personal experience that books are a damn bit more “immersive” than any game i’ve ever played, in any perspective.
    You can’t compare FPS games to writing or books because the immersive world of books is vast, different and varied.

    In an FPS the only variation is the details of the “skins” or the tenuous “plot” that propels the action or the weapons you use.

    Books are more akin to World of Warcraft or Second Life, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

  147. Anonymous says:

    I play COD a lot and as bad as it is, you can do worse. FOR EXAMPLE a game I bought called ARMY of TWO made by EA. Essentially youre a team of former army dudes working as private military contractors where you get paid to kill people, the money from which you can spend on rocket launchers and bejeweled weapons.

    My parents never censored anything and I turned out fine. Your children can and will subvert you and your efforts at control. I think theres something to be said for letting teenagers develop their own sense of morality. If your children respect you they’ll at the very least listen to a rational objection. Whether they internalize it is their choice no matter how hard you beat it into them.

    Being told what to do is not the same as learning.

  148. sum.zero says:

    jack

    your bias is showing. “murder porn”? not “art”? how nice of you to make that judgment for the rest of us.

    also, [in addition to my previous post's points] there are first person perspective films and books…

  149. Ugly Canuck says:

    Randy, that “determining combatant status” requirement is just weird. Where in the Conventions does it say you have to do that, prior to respecting the Conventions as far as the treatment of PRISONERS are concerned?

  150. dougr650 says:

    Agreed, it’s nice that parents are taking an active interest in their child’s life and not blindly telling them to turn off the damn game and play outside.

    However! I’m wholeheartedly siding with the people on here who think that the parent in this case is more than slightly off the rails. This is about a parent who’s taken it upon themselves to turn what they see as mindless entertainment into that most vile form of media: edutainment. Instead of letting their child play, as children do, they’re forcing an ill-fitting and inappropriate framework on top of the kid’s entertainment. This is analagous to telling a kid that, when they play chess, they must always be considerate and never take the opponent’s queen because women must always be respected. Right lesson, wrong forum to learn it in. They might get the point that you’re trying to force on them, but they’ll miss out on the real point of the game and become a sh*tty chess-player and therefore miss out on the reasoning skills that go along with learning to be a good chess-player.

    The value of games (video and otherwise) is not that they are just idle fun. They teach real strategy and problem-solving skills that are generally useful in the real world. They allow people to explore worlds, make decisions, and simulate acting out those decisions in a safe environment.

    Now, instead of playing the game and learning about tactics and strategy and just having fun with it, this poor kid’s got to conform to a completely silly additional set of rules that someone outside the simulation has arbitrarily imposed. If it were me, that’s the point where I would recognize that the game has effectively been stripped of all of its value and chuck it immediately in the trashcan, thereby teaching the parent that they’ve just wasted $60 and sucked all of the joy out of a child’s life, at least for that afternoon.

    I’ve been playing video games for as long as there have been video games. That includes FPS, RPG, MMO, all the way down to plain-old Pong. Yes, I will absolutely deny that video games desensitize you to violence. I’m not saying that applies to all people. If someone has serious sociological or psychological problems, then it is possible that video violence could aggravate those issues and desensitize them. I would never advocate someone in a mental institution being allowed to play Call of Duty. But most people do not suffer from those kinds of problems, at least not to such a degree that they would confuse a game for reality. I can’t stand guns, I will never own a gun, and I have no desire to ever shoot a gun. I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone, I don’t jack cars off the street and pick up prostitutes in them. I also don’t put on red overalls and jump down green sewer pipes looking for princesses. The real world is entirely decoupled from the virtual worlds of video games, and it’s not that hard to tell the difference!

  151. Jack says:

    #197 POSTED BY SUM.ZERO , FEBRUARY 23, 2009 12:11 AM

    how about space invaders, galaxian, zaxxon, galaga, asteroids, centipede, robotron, defender, contra, combat! [atari 2600 ftw!] and on and on and on? there have always been plenty of shooters. * snip * you’re just cherry-picking to suit your argument.

    Nope I’m not. Please read my response to Robulous (#198) Can you please look up the dictionary definition of the words: First and Person and Shooter?

    Do you need to have this spelled out for you?

    When you are seeing action directly through the eyes of your character and the main goal of the action is simply killing, I find that sick.

    Top scrolling or side scrolling is simply not the same psychologically.

    i’d also say from extensive personal experience that books are a damn bit more “immersive” than any game i’ve ever played, in any perspective.

    You can’t compare FPS games to writing or books because the immersive world of books is vast, different and varied.

    In an FPS the only variation is the details of the “skins” or the tenuous “plot” that propels the action or the weapons you use.

    Books are more akin to World of Warcraft or Second Life, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

  152. Avram / Moderator says:

    MasterController, was that the entire Geneva Conventions? Your comment was over 6800 words long, and none of it your own, just a big cut-and-paste from somewhere else. That’s not conversation. Please don’t do that again.

  153. robulus says:

    Can anyone who plays first person shooters deny that they desensitize you to violence?

    Yes.

  154. Jack says:

    @#200 POSTED BY SUM.ZERO:

    your bias is showing. “murder porn”? not “art”? how nice of you to make that judgment for the rest of us.
    What else can one do in an FPS other than kill and destroy? Remove that from any game and it’s a dud.

    there are first person perspective films and books…
    True, but that’s not the main genre of film whereas in FPS games it’s pretty much the single note every game hinges on.

    Unless you full grasp the difference between first, second and third person perspective there is no reason debating. Very few films make the view the main protagonist for force them into the shoes of that protagonist… Unless it’s horror… Or maybe a porn film showing “you” having “sex” with a porn star.

  155. robulus says:

    @Ugly Cannuck
    Yeah, Robulus, computer/video games are not my thing, it’s true. Sigh.

    Don’t sweat it, and don’t be worried about games just because they’re games. There’s plenty of movies to be worried about, too!

    @Jack
    In a FIRST PERSON shooter, you are the “first person” you will always be the first person and you will never not be the first person.

    Except when, like I said, you choose to switch to third person perspective…

    The reason FPS games will never be considered art or literature is this inherent flaw in their action. And unless people face, grasp and comprehend this flaw, they will never be able to repair it to help the genre truly evolve and maybe become more valid.

    It’s already happened. They’re called third person shooters, like Gears of War. All the blood and gore of first person shooters, but from a perspective just behind and above the character you control.

    You’d love them Jack! They totally support your argument and make you look really clever and thoughtful!

    @Gaudaemus
    Wow I can’t believe I read all of these comments. I’m sure while I was reading a pile was added.

    You can get a cream for that.

  156. sirkowski says:

    Kids need to learn about the good clean fun of killing Nazis.

  157. holtt says:

    Here, disemvowel this one. It was fun to write.

    Does the body that certified your blog know that you’re in the habit of judging people over the Internet on the basis of a single post? Oh wait, you just write stuff on the internet!

    For all you know, this doctor has been a pediatric surgeon, writes papers on pediatric obesity, and has watched children die before his eyes from early onset atherosclerosis.

    What’s more, he’s almost certain to read this at some point — as a “professional”, is the the kind of message you send to strangers? To ignore doctors and concerns expressed about health?

    Did you get your blog by mail-order for $15.95 and three box-tops?

    Ohhh, I see, you’re a *blogger* and *YA author*. Well that would certainly qualify you to look at a short post by a doctor, and without knowing a single damned thing about him, render a judgment on his medical competency and knowledge.

  158. sorbix says:

    This just in: Dad Takes All Fun Out of GTA IV

  159. Jack says:

    your bias is showing. “murder porn”? not “art”? how nice of you to make that judgment for the rest of us.

    What else can one do in an FPS other than kill and destroy?

    Remove that from any game and it’s a dud.

    there are first person perspective films and books…

    True, but that’s not the main genre of film whereas in FPS games it’s pretty much the single note every game hinges on.

    Unless you fully grasp the difference between first, second and third person perspective there is no reason debating. Very few films make the view the main protagonist for force them into the shoes of that protagonist… Unless it’s horror… Or maybe a porn film showing “you” having “sex” with a porn star.

  160. Takuan says:

    you’re kidding right? Cory posts an article about games, warcrimes, the Geneva Convention, parenting, moral decisions and other such fluff, and the first guy to post says ” Yah, ya know, dat kid’s too fat man, he rilly otta lose some o dat blubber cuz I’m a doktor ya know and yer stoopid”

  161. mortis says:

    games are not a good substitute for one-on-one counseling. talk to them about the ramifications of war, historical perspectives of war, whether it’s right or wrong, etc.

    …but then just leave them alone and let them play a game.

    i hope Mario doesn’t bring up some attached life-lesson about gold as a monetary standard, or theft of property by “stomping” innocent plant life and animals.

    ^M^

  162. John_S says:

    On the positive side, you’re at least monitoring your son’s use of a mature rated game. Having played COD4 & WaW, I get the impression that many parents rely on video games as an alternative to a babysitter or actually spending time with the kid(s). Although, I did encounter a few occasions where a family actually gamed together online.

    Associating a game like Call of Duty and the Geneva Convention seems questionable to me; If he plays Monopoly and loses, would you bail him out to teach him current politics and economic theory?

  163. sum.zero says:

    jack

    condescend much?

    your level of ignorance and personal bias on the subjects on which you hold forth is staggering. your main argument seems to be that things are thus because you say they are thus. i see no evidence or science to back your argument. your logic is, imho, flawed. i am no more convinced of your “perspective” argument now than i was at the beginning. in fact, less.

    what i see are a censor’s arguments.

    “Books are more akin to World of Warcraft or Second Life, but that’s a whole other can of worms.”

    yep, thought so.

  164. Video Martyr says:

    I could be wrong but I thought the only this the other players need to provide if asked are Name, Rank, and Serial Killer.

    It is snowing raining outside my house right now, can I ask that we all – Right Now – go out and breathe some fresh air? Back in 20.

  165. sum.zero says:

    you are devolving into incoherent noise…

  166. imranzaheer says:

    That’s What I was trying to put in.

  167. Destructor says:

    Call of Duty is difficult because it’s based on a real war, and the game takes great pains to like, show you the history, it has quotes from interviews with real veterans, it shows real things- but then there’s this disconnect because you end up killing hundreds of people (they reckon more than 50% of soldiers never fired a shot in anger in WW2- certainly no one person has ever individually killed more than 100 people with a rifle- you’d be a psycho) and you can’t ‘die’ in a real sense- you just start again. It’s like an odd overlap of history and fantasy, and I’d be careful to make sure they weren’t mixed up. Adults can separate the two in their minds, and some kids can too- and some kids can’t. It’s different from DOOM because that’s all fantastic. What the parent should do is let the kid play CoD, and then as soon as they die for the first time, you pull the disc out of the machine and snap it in half, and say: “That’s it! You’re dead! And that’s what war was like, once you died, you stayed dead! Merry Christmas!” Bwahahahaha. Just kidding.

  168. mikefinch says:

    You can’t compare FPS games to writing or books because the immersive world of books is vast, different and varied.

    R Y NTS??????

    You just DSTRYD your own point. Please read what you write – if books are MR immersive than it would follow that books are even more sinister than FPS’s.

  169. robulus says:

    There is some really anal over-analysis of this person’s parenting here.

    They’re taking an interest in their kid’s life, engaging with them, and trying to foster a sense of responsibility in their child.

    It’s all good. There’s a dialog now between parent and child about war and violence.

    Why get all hung up on what year the Geneva Convention was enacted and whether that dude in CoD MW was killed against the geneva convention and so on?

  170. holtt says:

    Tak – kind of sort of. Still, Corey’s repost was petulant. If he was my kid, I think we’d agree this was the time for BoingBoing to go away for a while for him.

  171. mongolhorde says:

    Can anyone who plays first person shooters deny that they desensitize you to violence?

    Here’s a fun fact from the book Microtrends. 20% of California 16 year olds want to be snipers when they grow up. That isn’t join the army, that’s become snipers. That’s because the sniper in Castle Wolfenstein and such is so friggin’ cool. It gives you a real sense of power. (Caveat – I’m approximating the statistic as I read the book a year ago.)

    Of course, the army does have to do more physical training on its new recruits as they tend to be fatter and more out of shape than recruits a few years back.

    The Ad hominem attack on the doctor did not impress.

    That said, I plan on doing very similar things with my own kids when they come to video game age.

  172. A New Challenger says:

    Do the Geneva Conventions cover teabagging?

  173. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a neat idea; Learning through gaming.

  174. Glick01 says:

    Split decision on this one. Good parenting for being involved in his son’s moral upbringing and his education. Outstanding. But CM N….ths kd S NT n thlt….nt hcky tm cptn, dsn’t ply sccr thr hrs dy, nt n grt physcl shp..nly n dt wld sy smthng dffrnt. ‘ll bt my hs ths kd spnds th mjrty f hs fr tm dng smthng sdntry. Mm nd Dd fds hm t mch fd. nd dsn’t kck hs ft btt tsd t ply t th prk, r SMPLC whr h cn ls sm f tht blbbr. nd t’s lkly tht hs schl hs n mndtry physcl dctn prgrm. nd thn w wndr why hlth cr csts hv skyrcktd. W nd t hv PHYSCL STMLS PRGRM. FR LL MRCNS. K y ftts nd t f shp nrds..hv t m.

  175. Anonymous says:

    NDOLLAC

    You commented that war is hell…I’d like to correct you War is not Hell…They don’t kill children in Hell

    bishop e360

  176. robulus says:

    So Jack, you are arguing that it is the perspective that makes it sick. Not the guns, because guns feature in a lot of entertainment, not the subject, because there are myriad sub-genres of FPS, but just the perspective. That makes these games sick.

    Your first person perspective is very black and white.

    I think your argument is naive, pedantic, and betrays a complete lack of understanding of cinema, modern entertainment and the real issues surrounding classification and regulation of media consumption.

    For the record, many FPSs allow you to switch your view to third person. I guess they’re fine when you do that, right?

  177. buddy66 says:

    Games…

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    It takes a man to read a book.

  178. Takuan says:

    justifiably annoyed does not equal “petulant”. And ad hominem is fair response for ad hominem. I don’t see any shingle hung out by Cory saying “Saint lives here”. Go around punching people in the nose and get punched in the nose.

  179. Pres says:

    People over at Reddit are very enthousiastic about this dad’s approach:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/80uan/dad_makes_son_read_geneva_convention_before_being/

    Reddit. I’m baffled.

  180. Takuan says:

    trade you some Corb Lund for that, Nail
    A Leader On Losing Control :
    I tried my best to stop them, yes, I tried to make them wait
    And I appealed to their decency show mercy on this day
    I issued them strong orders on pain of death and disarray
    But in the end they would not listen and raised their lances anyway

    Men of no account they were, their breeding crude and low
    With not a trace of wisdom, Grace or virtue in their souls
    Yet trained them long and hard I did to bend them to the crown
    To act as tools of justice, follow edict handed down

    You see these were not militia men, a-fighting for their homes
    Nor fathers, sons nor husbands, sire, but foreigners on loan
    Mercenary killers, career soldiers to a man
    Lashing out with vengeance one cannot accept or understand

    I could not instill the discipline ’twas duty to inspire
    And they responded in the end to instincts of the basest kind
    Now on my knee before you here, I drop my eyes in shame
    Albeit little consolation take my head for I’m to blame

    O, so spoke the leader on losing control

  181. Pres says:

    Are you also restricting what he can watch on TV and how long he can watch? Holding his hand while he walks to school? Making him wear a chastity belt? Where does this stop?

    I applaud your will to be a good parent, but I sincerely think you’re overdoing it.

  182. Raj77 says:

    Mongolhorde, yes they can.

    Citation of the evidence from the undoubtedly scholarly book please?

    There is absolutely no collated body of empirical evidence (or even a decent meta-analysis) that suggests that video games desensitise one to real violence, and a fair amount that suggests the opposite. Also, think about the framing of the question. If asked “do you think it would be cool to be a sniper?” a lot more than 20% of teenage boys are going to say yes. That’s human nature, and it’s no different from the masculine idolization of warriors from day 1 of recorded history.

    Be aware than Mark Penn is an incredible manipulator, and one with his own vested interests. He is the Democratic right’s Karl Rove.

  183. bondjamesbond says:

    Someone got punched…damn, I missed that…..

    I suspect that the puncher, and perhaps the punchee played way too many games of “rock’em sock’em robots” as young tykes…

  184. Cruftbox says:

    I play Call of Duty (CoD). Hugh is either talking about CoD4, which takes place in modern times, and CoD5, which takes place in World War II.

    After reviewing the Geneva Conventions, it’s hard to find a lot of opportunity to violate them, when I consider what’s in the game.

    The closest I can find it treatment of the wounded. The Geneva Convention calls for humane treatment of wounded that are disarmed or in a non-combat state.

    In CoD, there is an ability called Last Stand (CoD4) or Second Chance (CoD5) that allows a player to continue to fight after taking what would normally be a mortal wound. The enemy can still continue to shoot at the wounded player to kill them. This does not appear to violate the Geneva Convention since the wounded player does remain an active combatant.

    FWIW, Second Chance allows a teammate to revive the wounded soldier as long as he also has the Second Chance ability. Both players must commit to the non-aggressive ability to see the benefit.

    The only thing in CoD that I wonder about is in CoD5, where a player can literally ‘call in the dogs’ after 7 kills and have dogs attack and kill players in game. I didn’t see a specific prohibition against dogs in the Geneva Convention in my cursory read.

    If I was Hugh, I’d be more concerned over the language and discussion amongst the relatively anonymous players on the Xbox and PC. Personally I find some of the chatter offensive for racism/bigotry in a manner far beyond anything discussed openly in meatspace.

    IMHO, it’s condoning racism/bigoty chat that is more dangerous than video game violence.

  185. Pres says:

    Oh boy. I like hippies, but I wouldn’t want to have them for parents. :-)

  186. Irene Delse says:

    I’m sensing another “life imitates art” thing, here.

    If Evan’s parents read this, might I ask if they got the idea from Terry Pratchett’s Only You Can Save Mankind, perchance?

  187. mgfarrelly says:

    You know what got me interested in Islamic history, which I went on to persue a Master’s degree in? Years before I played “Vampire: The Masquerade” which has a clan of creatures based off legends from the region. I took a class in world history in college that mentioned the “Hashasins” and I was off to the races.

    Teaching isn’t about the didactic transfer of information. It’s about getting kids to consider and think and connect beyond the linear. Maybe this young man will take this little experiment and get an interest in the law, or history or human rights or international relations. Good parents, and good adults in general, plant a thousand possible ideas in kids heads.

    I think this was a really worthy experiment. Good on this gentleman.

    And the knuckle-draggers with their cruel remarks and faux concern about obesity are just trolls. The internet version of some jerk in a car yelling “Hey fatty! Lose weight!” at a kid.

  188. octopussoup says:

    namby pamby -ism

    Do headcrabs from half-life 2 get geneva conventions benefits too?

    He prob should have drivers ed before playing Burnout or Medical School training before playing Trauma Center.

  189. arborman says:

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have played video games of all descriptions since Asteroids, and it has had zero impact on my ‘level of violence’. In fact I spend my workday teaching nonviolence to people with significant challenges in that realm.

    I am, however, a bit overweight.

  190. Ceronomus says:

    mikefinch – No, I don’t see a problem. When I was growing up, my parents set ground rules for myself and my friends were expected to abide by them when we were playing together. If they couldn’t respect the rules (which were often as simple as “no throwing rocks”) then we were not allowed to play together.

    Frankly, I don’t know why you are fussing about it. It is basic parenting 101. Set ground rules and stick to them.

  191. anwaya says:

    Cory@2, Zuzu@53:

    My first thought was that PShafer was Dr. Bill Frist, moonlighting. He is rightly famous for his remote diagnosis of Terri Schiavo.

  192. Simon Cameron says:

    @ Cory
    “Does the body that certified your MD know that you’re in the habit of offering diagnoses over the Internet on the basis of a single photograph?”

    If Bill Frist can do it…

  193. GregLondon says:

    jack: Hilarious strawman.

    You can’t tell logic from your own “I feel sick”? that’s hilarious.

    Look, I’m not the only one who has issues with FPS games.

    argument ad populum.

    Lots of people.

    argument ad populum.

    And not just conservative fuddy duddies.

    strawman

    Some of us are real people,

    strawman, tribalism

    who work in tech,

    irrelevant red herring

    immerse ourselves in pop culture

    red herring

    but simply find the whole world of FPS gamers to be sick at worst

    circular argument. you find FPS to be sick, because you and other people like you find FPS to be sick.

    and a waste of life at best

    I’ll come back to this little gem.

    Now that’s only my personal point of view, but I can say the following: I’ve worked in tech since I was a teen. Which means over 20 years. 100% of nobody I have ever worked with who was competent or had a balanced life spent more than casual time in a gaming world.

    shifting meaning.

    You went from FPS makes you sick to playing FPS games for more than a “casual” amount of time is the problem.

    All of this talk FPS games and even Warcraft-like games “enhancing” problem solving skills is 100% of nonsense.

    shifting meaning, strawman.

    It’s the same logic that dictates someone will get an HDTV to share “educational” shows/movies with their kids; delusional nonsense created to justify real intents.

    red herring completely changed subject.

    Every person I have ever worked with who plays FPS games

    hasty generalization.

    has been difficult to work with, hard to get to work with teams in the real world and mostly gone within a few months when me and the team I’m on realized we made a mistake.

    Dude, seriously? You realized you made a mistake hiring someoen who plays FPS games?

    If you want to play FPS games, go ahead.

    thank you sir, may I have another.

    Nobody is stopping you.

    Not yet.

    But to deny what they are and how they function is delusional.

    Dude, seriously, get over yourself. FPS games make you sick. That isn’t how they function, that is how you feel about those games.

    You are the one making all sorts of weird assertions about FPS games. You’re whole first, second, third person rant is based on your own unfounded assertion that: Top scrolling or side scrolling is simply not the same psychologically.

    And how do you prove this? with your own personal opinion: When you are seeing action directly through the eyes of your character and the main goal of the action is simply killing, I find that sick.

    Read that sentence again. when someone else sees action through the eyes of a character that character is killing, you find it sick.

    Ever play paintball, Jack? Run around the woods or some urban environment, guns in hand, shooting people. I like to play it once in a while. It’s seriously a first person shooter game. If what I do with make believe combat makes you nauseous, then I’d say there is something seriously wrong with you on some level.

    If what someone else does for entertainment makes you sick, then you’re the one who can’t seem to get the distinction of first, second, and third person point of view. I’m playing paintball. I’m in the first person poitn of view. You’re sitting on your ass in a room somewhere, talking about me playing paintball. You’re in the third person point of view. And me being in the first person POV somehow makes you sick?

    You’re narrating from third person omniscient.

    You’re sitting back, behind your keyboard, watching what other people are doing, and your making absolute batshit declarations about them. Omniscient point of view means you as narrator get to go into any character’s head and declare what they are thinking. As an author, it’s fine because you’re declaring what characters are thinking, and you invented those characters for your story. In real life, third person omniscient doesn’t exist. And when you try to put thoughts into someone else’s mind that aren’t there, then you’re the one who’s wrong.

    a waste of life at best

    Dude, it is a game. And games are part of what we do in our spare time. Every individual gets to decide how they spend their surplus energy. You want to hand out your omniscient declarations that certain methods of spending surplus energy are a “waste of life”? You seriously are missing the point of surplus.

    There was a BB post a few months back where a TV reporter (I think) was doing a story on wikipedia and how much work people had put into it, and the guy said something to the effect of “where to poeple find the time?” and the response was “As someone who makes there living in the TV medium, something people do in their spare time, you don’t get to say that TV is an OK way to spend surplus time and wikipedia or computers are not OK”.

    You are making such a pronouncement. FPS are a “waste of time”. Really? Compared to whatever you do in your spare time? Seriously, you’re going to make that argument?

  194. Ugly Canuck says:

    RE trolls: Yes we ugly ones would grow a thick skin, if we did not already have one.

  195. GregLondon says:

    Oh, and i forgot:

    Every person I have ever worked with who plays FPS games has been difficult to work with, hard to get to work with teams in the real world and mostly gone within a few months when me and the team I’m on realized we made a mistake.

    The plural of anecdote is not fact.

  196. Anonymous says:

    Man, I wish Barbara Bush had done the same thing with her son in his version of Call of Duty

  197. Ceronomus says:

    “The kid looks like…”

    That isn’t a diagnosis, it is an opinion. Heck, an opinion from a source far more informed on the subject than most folks here.

    “The kid looks like…” does not equate to “My diagnosis is…”

    Frankly, the kid looks heavy and a little time outside PROBABLY would do him some good…and I say this as a fat guy who is struggling to lose weight.

  198. sum.zero says:

    takuan @51

    thank there weren’t systematic, horrendous abuses by soldiers before violent video games and movies. wait when was the geneva convention ratified again?

    correlation does not imply causation and all that.

    noen @52

    the question was what game was being played before they landed in the war zone… ;)

  199. tinyhonkshus says:

    Amongst all the arguing, what I want to see is the research that says you need to exercise 3-4 hours a day to lose weight!

  200. Nelson.C says:

    ANewChallenger @170: I doubt it, I don’t think John Waters invented it until the ’80s.

  201. Takuan says:

    standard military basic training consists of taking a normal, young human and turning him into something that accepts as “normal” having someone else tell him “Kill!” or “Die!” Especially since the Second World War, though even the First was full of useful information for generals on how normal humans react to being told to slaughter each other, much effort has been put into figuring out how to desensitize humans about mass-killing other humans. The turning point for the West was Viet Nam.
    The travesty playing out on the Mid-east is just a continuation of these “discoveries”.

    Sure, go ahead as a parent if you wish, and let your children play murder-games. But if you don’t educate them at the same time that they are ruled by scum that will send them to butcher and die for the expanded wealth of scum, why, I guess you’re scum too.

  202. OsoMan says:

    N srsly, th kd nds t gt ff th cch nd d sm psh–wys frm th bfft tbl. nd Crry, dd, srsly, ths kd s nt th cptn f hs hcky tm…

    Tht sd th Gnv pprch s knd f cl

  203. FoetusNail says:

    Done.

  204. buddy66 says:

    This is certainly an educational post. It got a lot of people to read about the Geneva Convention. Even Wiki got boinged on this one. Disregarding the comments about parenting, portliness, and shooter games, I’m delighted that Doctorow pulled it off.

    How many of you did a little *research* before you kvetched?

  205. Brettspiel says:

    Takuan –

    “justifiably annoyed does not equal “petulant”.”

    Does it make a difference if Cory Tweeted it to his 10k followers as, “HOWTO be an internet asshole: http://tinyurl.com/daf37c ?”

    http://twitter.com/doctorow/status/1237051481

    I totally understand where Cory is coming from. He has struggled with his own weight, and comments like those of the good doctor are hurtful, but I had a hard time deciding which comment he was referring to in his tweet – and at the time there was only his and the doctor’s. Calling someone out in front of 10k of your closest friends, backed by the server-crushing power of boingboing, with such a vitriolic response is, surely, at least a little bit petulant.

  206. Stu Mark says:

    For anyone who is reading every comment, I want to restate something: Parenting is different every time, every day, for every kid. So to those of you who are nakedly judging this parent, it’s time to wake up – you may parent your kid differently, but this isn’t your kid, you’ve just seen an incredibly tiny time-slice of the parenting methodology. Judging based on this seems incredibly unhelpful and unscientific/illogical – just my opinion, not for internal consumption.

    For those who have talked about their own parenting methodology in any way, great – yay for folks who even have a parenting methodology and yay for folks who are willing to discuss it openly – attentive parenting is, imho, a keystone to a successful society.

    As for the folks who are geeking out on the Geneva Conventions, rock on! Learnin’ is the bomb, yo.

    And, lastly, thanks to the BoingBoing staff for continuing a grand tradition of hosting open debate.

  207. Scixual says:

    Bravo!

    The thing some respondents seem to be missing is clearly stated int he last paragraph: “We’ll see how it goes.”

    I think this is clearly an experiment. And I think a fine one. Encouraging the lad to do the research is laudable. Trying the experiment of playing within the conventions is great. I don’t think anyone in this story is confusing escapist fantasy with reality.

    I’d be curious to hear what the parent and son find out from this experience.

  208. teddanson says:

    ROBULUS: “For the record, many FPSs allow you to switch your view to third person. I guess they’re fine when you do that, right?”

    I don’t think the terms ‘first person’ and ‘third person’ as they’re understood in a literary context apply here. Switching to a ‘third person’ perspective in an FPS just changes the angle from which you view the game; I don’t think that it significantly changes the way you perceive the game as a whole. That is, it may make you more detached from your character, but it is still *your* character, and it is still you who is controlling the character directly.

  209. Raj77 says:

    I did three years’ worth, the post was unconnected to it though.

  210. Sam C says:

    On the off-chance that anyone is still reading this thread, I just wanted to correct something. Rosenotter at 93 said:

    So, waitasec – you’re teaching your child that even Nazis deserve full protection of the Geneva Convention, even when they clearly aren’t following the Geneva convention themselves? Even when the Geneva Convention states that you aren’t required to follow it if the other guy doesn’t? Boy, good thing we didn’t fight the actual war under those conditions. Heaven forbid you dehumanize the SS.

    The Geneva conventions do not state that ‘you aren’t required to follow it if the other guy doesn’t’. They impose a set of restrictions on the behaviour of the treaties’ signiatories, regardless of the behaviour of the people they fight against.

    And yes, Nazis do deserve the full protection of the Conventions. That’s what makes us different from Nazis.

  211. mrsomuch says:

    phew!

    what a load of cranky bastards! Lighten up y’all!

    To Raian @ 144 – Good point and well made.

    I totally agree with you.

    However, I think it’s still a bit of an over-reaction to this instance. I think this is very much a case of on the fly parenting in a creative manner. I think the distinction that you point out is probably made and reinforced on a daily basis through all manner of means, as it should be in a healthy parenting way.

    everyone else – put the toys back in the pram please.

  212. CatPee420 says:

    Maybe, before he plays Pac-Man you should give him a nutrition guide. You don’t want him to eat more pellets than a healthy pellet-eater should. Maybe it would help in his real life. Regardless, it is unlikely he will become a cold blooded killer no matter how he plays any game. He does, however, look as if he may be headed towards Chubbyville. That is worse than him car-jacking and assaulting everybody on Grand Theft Auto. Real life is not video games and vice-versa. Most (including my two) kids can kill every alien on a video game and then still cry at the end of E.T.

  213. mikefinch says:

    @78 – That works fine and well in real life. In video games the truth is that people are often dicks and have no qualms about screwing you over by breaking YOUR rules.

    If the rule was about throwing rocks at windows i could see your point, but asking kids to not shoot the medics or brag about their kills is a stupid idea.

    The quickest way to breed contempt for the law is to make it easier to break.

  214. Bonzo McGrue says:

    No seriously, the kid needs to get off the couch and do some push-a-ways from the buffet table. And Corry, dude, seriously, this kid is not the captain of his hockey team…

    Wow. What part of this do you not understand?

    Last week, I had lunch with my friend, Hugh Spencer, a writer and designer of museum and public educational exhibitions. He told me an amazing story about his son

    Knowing this is his friend’s son, I suspect you wouldn’t say this to Cory IRL, Osoman, but you’re perfectly comfortable doing it in a public, highly trafficked online forum. Good call.

  215. AudioTherapist says:

    My tuppence…

    As both a FPS gamer and a parent I very much like the original post, and Cory’s reaction to the Dr’s leftfield and rather pointless observation.

    I should imagine a great deal of the outrage he expressed had less to do with the content of the Dr’s post, but the arrogant and blithely callous tone of it. Particularly when Cory had clearly said that this was the son of a friend who would inevitably be checking out the boingboing post.

    Yes Cory may have been a little rabid & OTT in his defense of his friend’s son, but I’d far prefer an excessively loyal friend to a callous doctor any day

  216. Takuan says:

    who you calling cranky, you son of a bitch?!

  217. Jack says:

    @#207 POSTED BY MIKEFINCH , FEBRUARY 23, 2009 12:35 AM

    “You can’t compare FPS games to writing or books because the immersive world of books is vast, different and varied.” R Y NTS?????? You just DSTRYD your own point. Please read what you write – if books are MORE immersive than it would follow that books are even more sinister than FPS’s.

    No I didn’t. Doesn’t shock me that FPS-gamers are having real problems understanding the concept of first person, versus second person, versus third person.

    In a book you can be immersed in a second person or third person environment where you are clearly an observer and not a participant. And the path of a book can be vast and varied and dramatic without one ounce of blood being shed or one life being destroyed.

    In a FRST PRSN shooter, you are the “first person” you will always be the first person and you will never not be the first person.

    The reason FPS games will never be considered art or literature is this inherent flaw in their action. And unless people face, grasp and comprehend this flaw, they will never be able to repair it to help the genre truly evolve and maybe become more valid.

  218. kababok says:

    Children under 15 must not participate in hostilities and must not be recruited into the armed forces. (Protocol I, Art. 77, Sec. 2; Protocol II, Art. 4, Sec. 3c)

  219. Jack says:

    My issue isn’t with parenting as much as the violence of the game. I really appreciate the fact I grew up when gaming was more abstract, creative and didn’t center on killing things as much as modern games.

    IMHO, this kid would not have to jump through logical loops if he was playing a game that was truly creative and a tad more intellectually stimulating.

    FPS are really just sick.

  220. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to dad. I think it’s a great idea.
    Just because our current enemies may not play by the rules, it doesn’t mean that we should stoop to their level.
    I hope more parents would encourage this kind of background research before turning the kids loose on the console. How knows, they might even LEARN something in the process!
    Even war has rules…

  221. Blaine says:

    It’s a mixed bag. I don’t really mind the augmented reality of “learn how a soldier should behave” and then play. It’s got a bit of an RPG aspect to it.

    Y’know, the kid has to play as lawful good footsoldier. When you reach M for Mature, then you can be chaotic neutral.

    That said, punishing him for what his team mates do online is absolutely absurd. It takes what could be a good idea and basically makes it seem like all of this is just an excuse to pull the plug.

    “OH! Look what that random stranger did… *tsk* *tsk*. You know the rules. No more CoD”

    Past playing with strangers, playing with friends. His friends have to obey his parents arbitrary rules?

    We’re not talking about, you’re over his house, take your shoes off, don’t touch the stove, etc. Your house, your castle (which is why I don’t mind them putting these rules on their own child).

    But we’re saying, you play the game the way Evan’s parents want you to play, or we’re going to punish Evan?

    I’m sorry… That aspect of it is a horrible idea.

    You might as well tell him he can’t play when the daily lotto number ends in an even digit – he has just as much control over that as what other people do.

  222. PixelFish says:

    So my first thought was, I’m not sure how closely CoD actually mirrors real war that you can apply the Geneva Convention to it. But that’s not the real point anyway. The point is tying the kid’s interests to history lessons and opening a dialogue which could be used for learning. (I think the enforcing of the rules is a bit weird, given the gameplay, and in cases where your child is committing virtual assault and killing, I think you are better off just having a discussion with the kid about why this behaviour is problematic in the Real World.)

    (I think the gameplay of WoW would be a more interesting exercise of the Geneva Conventions, because the gameplay is very non-linear there, and you could refuse quest lines based on the probability for torture or killing people who were innocent civilians. There are a couple of pacifists famously trundling through the game without trying to kill anything.)

    re: comments about kids today being all penned in and not learning independance–that’s a hypothesis contrary to fact. They could be given other opportunities to learn that. I’m kinda tired of “these kids and their videogames” meme–which presupposes that the kid isn’t aware of the outside world. (I grew up playing video games, and playing outside. The two ain’t incompatible.)

  223. Waterlilygirl says:

    #178 Brettspiel-
    No poking barbs at Cory. It’s his blog, his tweet, his opinion. I think he’s adorable as hell (and no, I don’t know him personally). Your comments about whether or not he has struggled with his own weight is irrelevent and a bit nasty in nature. The MD that left that comment was making a vague diganosis on an undefined and difficult to judge picture. Yes the kid looks like he’s got some weight on him but we know nothing about his habits except that he enjoys video games. To turn around and read all the negative comments about the kid needing exercise and fresh air is appalling. Think back to the movie “Stand By Me” and then think of Jerry O’Connell’s character… tubby right? What does he look like now? What if the post was about a kid who played football and looked like that? Would everyone be squawking as much?

  224. Tenn says:

    Holtt-

    You’re being unnecessarily rude, petulant, and offensive yourself. The fact is, it does not take a certificate to blog, and police your own blog, and say what you wish on your own blog. It does take a certificate to diagnose. It’s ridiculous to diagnose from a single picture, unless that picture is one taken from a medical machine.

    This is Cory’s turf, and he has the right to be offensive or petulant or – justifiably annoyed, as Takuan rightly puts it- as he wishes. Your option here is whether or not to accept this.

    Your comment will likely be disemvowelled. Generally, any comment that begins anything like ‘You won’t like me posting this’ or ‘You’ll probably disemvowel this’ will be. It’s a cop-out, and a cheap public trick. “Look, guys! I’m shouting swear words in front of City Hall! I bet those nogood bastards will arrest me!” It is an attempt to take blame from yourself, and place it on the moderators.

    That’s just rude and childish.

    To everyone else, this thread doesn’t really need to be about this kid’s potential obesity. Just because he said ‘what he does a lot of’ does not mean the boy doesn’t get exercise. I play a lot of games, sure! But I also weigh a hundred and ten pounds, and I wrestle and do a lot of military exercises. Since when does doing a lot of one thing potentially bar you from doing a lot of another thing?

  225. Anonymous says:

    Jack: What else can one do in an FPS other than kill and destroy?
    Remove that from any game and it’s a dud.

    Hmmmm, ever heard of a little game called Portal? It’s essentially an FPS, but no killing on your part (unless you count knocking out the occassional mechanical gun turrent as “killing”)… And, it’s far from a “dud”, I’m afraid… So, like everything else, it appears you’re wrong about that too…

  226. robulus says:

    Hi Tedd,

    I’m not sure if you are trying to support Jack’s argument here, and are arguing that the third person view in this kind of game is, to all intents and purposes, the same as the first person view.

    I really hope not, because that would add another layer of density to the already overburdened perspective theory of media perversity.

    Jack is nothing if not specific about the exact perspective he finds offensive, and its the first person one.

    There are stacks of third person shooters out there too and, according to this theory, they can’t be as offensive, because if they were that would completely undermine the argument that the key feature that distinguishes these games from movies is the first person perspective.

    If you want to argue that it is the controlling of the character that creates this distinction, I’d ask you what you would have James Bond do to the bad guys if you could control him? Serve tea? Nope. He’s a fantasy character in a fantasy world and he kills fantasy bad guys, and we join him vicariously for the thrill. If you think that somehow when you watch an action movie you’re maintaining neutrality to the characters and observing the whole affair from a detached perspective, you are either mistaken, psychopathic, or watching really, really bad movies.

    I’m not saying you have to love James Bond, War movies or slasher horror. You might make great arguments against all of them. I’m saying that movies and video games featuring these themes are somewhat similar, and should be regulated as such. Singling out video games just because they are video games, is misguided and unlikely to result in good social outcomes.

  227. the_boy says:

    @Uglycanuck #

    “These FPS games are all about you killing someone”

    FPSes are about killing someone in the way that graphic novels are all about superheroes. Yeah, some are. A lot, even. But a thematic choice does not a whole genre make. Have you heard of Portal? Heralded as more or less one of the best games ever, it is a first person shooter. Without a gun. Well, okay, enemy sentry robots have guns with bullets. But the player’s gun only shoots portals. Totally not an adolescent-power-fantasy in the sense you’re imagining.

    Alternatively, there’s Mirrors Edge, which has guns available and is in a first person perspective, but where the emphasis isn’t on shooting. In game, if you have a gun, your ability to move is lessened and your ability to utilize the gun isn’t all that great. And one can play the game all the way through without using a gun – the game is about being a courier, running from the government. Mainly what you do in first person perspective is run and climb on things. Being powerless in a fight, bad with a gun, and spending ones time running /= adolescent power fantasy it is assumed all FPSes are. Heck, in this game one is an unarmed civilian, which is hardly fantasy at all.

    “Why no spear/bow & arrow FPS games? Why only automatic weapons?”

    In Mount and Blade, one has a choice of weapons available in medieval Europe, and one plays in a first person perspective. Swords, shields, spears, crossbows, etc. Weapon diversity is a big deal, guns don’t exist, and nothing has the whole ratatatatata of an automatic weapon. Totally a spear/bow & arrow FPS, and it’s not the only one. And this one doesn’t encourage SCA membership any more than the others encourage NRA membership, nor does it inspire viking pillaging sprees any more than other FPSes inspire school shootings. If one is going to go a-viking, one is going to do it regardless of whether or not one has played this game.

    Look, gaming has matured an awful lot, and there are now a fuckton of games doing interesting things within old formats and making ‘genre’ mean the perspective and mode of utilizing objects on screen, instead of actual content. Yes, there are a lot of FPSes where one wades through a pile of enemies with an automatic weapon, a la Doom. But that isn’t the whole of the genre, and it’s unlikely that that’s the future of the genre either.

  228. Ohhhsnap says:

    Just a thought -

    Wouldn’t forcing your child to follow the Geneva Conventions make the game *more* real, providing the complete opposite effect desired?

    ??

  229. the_boy says:

    Firstly, I’m a fan of this post and this parenting style, though I’ll second the mentions of Dad’s cluelessness about player control over teammate action, either AI-controlled or human online.

    Secondly, there are plenty of interesting games where the morality of war can be debated.

    1. Fallout 3
    Not exactly a war game, but as an FPS with heavy role-playing elements (or vice versa), it has a huge range of choices available as to moral action. It’s also set in a post-apocalyptic future, so the Geneva Convention may still exist, but there aren’t really ‘nations’ or ‘armies’ to follow it. Perhaps a bit much for a 13-year-old, but definitely a game where players have a choice over conduct in a big way.

    2. Company of Heroes
    An RTS, where one actually gets to chose about weapons used. No civilians or POWS, but one can debate the morality/necessity of carpet bombing, snipers, and the like. (No good WWI games exist in which one can choose not to use poison gas, however).

    3. Mount and Blade
    a weird sort-of dark ages simulator, an added constraint one could put on the choices in game would be following things like chivalric code of conduct, or of papal bans on weapons like crossbows. A whole different era of war, but if one wants the teachable experience to be about different standards of acceptable conduct and acting appropriately, it’s a really good way to do it. Plus, while the game isn’t set in earth, many mods for it are, and it allows a teachable moment on earth history anyway.

    I really, really like the idea of examining moral choice in game when not required to do so by the game itself, and I think this is some real smart parenting, and more importantly a really savvy and intelligent child. I remember about a decade ago having to justify my game choices to my parents (were there significant roles for female characters? was there a learnable component?), and I think it’s a pretty swell way to go about things.

  230. pshaffer says:

    I’m a doctor, and as such, my reaction to this may be a bit different than some. I would say, looking at the picture, that I would hope this parent would trade off 1 hour of gaming for one hour of exercise.(or better – 2) The kid looks like he’s probably developing atherosclerotic plaques in his aorta already.

  231. RosenOtter says:

    So, waitasec – you’re teaching your child that even Nazis deserve full protection of the Geneva Convention, even when they clearly aren’t following the Geneva convention themselves? Even when the Geneva Convention states that you aren’t required to follow it if the other guy doesn’t? Boy, good thing we didn’t fight the actual war under those conditions. Heaven forbid you dehumanize the SS.

  232. Ugly Canuck says:

    “joining” a movie/radio/book/comic character does not involve the neural feedback involved in the physical act of playing the game.
    These FPS games are all about you killing someone: they are good at making people comfortable shooting things.
    Good for the NRA, good for killers, good for sociopaths & adolescent power fantasies, good for army training: trained to react quickly with shooting.
    Any connection between these games and the incredibly bloody and trigger-happy way your soldiers are conducting themselves in Afghanistan? Or in Iraq before they decided not to patrol outside the wire?
    Why no spear/bow & arrow FPS games? Why only automatic weapons?
    Censorship is not an answer. but these games do not make for better or kinder or more sympathetic citizens.
    Savagery is never justified: it is not even justifiable.
    Imitation/make-believe savagery is for children. And the immature, and for the fantasies of the powerless.

  233. Cory Doctorow says:

    Does the body that certified your MD know that you’re in the habit of offering diagnoses over the Internet on the basis of a single photograph?

    For all you know, this kid plays soccer for three hours a week, gets straight As in gym and captains his hockey team.

    What’s more, he’s almost certain to read this at some point — as a professional, is the the kind of diagnosis you communicate to strangers without ever having spoken or met with them?

    Did you get your MD by mail-order for $15.95 and three box-tops?

    Ohhh, I see, you’re a *radiologist*. Well that would certainly qualify you to look at a black-and-white picture of an adolescent child, and, without knowing a single damned thing about him, render a judgment on his health and lifestyle.

  234. Big Ed Dunkel says:

    Can he at least waterboard?

  235. holtt says:

    @WaterLillyGirl

    It’s his blog, his tweet, his opinion.

    He can do what ever he wants, no question. And in doing so he sets the tone of things. Sometimes the tone bridges the gap between posters and readers, and sometimes it widens it.

    I think I saw this in that book, “Little Blogger” from the author of, “Someone Follows a Tweet, Someone Quits Following”

  236. Blaine says:

    Tenn:

    I’m going to chime in on a side note. I’ll never understand the mentality you display in post 91.

    Saying something that you believe to be right, despite the ramifications, is a sign of true character.

    If you think something, genuinely think it, and refuse to say it for fear of being punished or ostracized… what a cowardly existence that is.

  237. failix says:

    I remember when my father tried to do something similar with me when I started to play enemy territory, quake and half-life.
    Nice try but honestly it’s just ridiculous. The point of playing violent games is “spilling blood”, “killing” other players, and so on…certainly not respecting the Geneva convention.

  238. smgrady says:

    WTF is wrong with everyone? tl;dr all posts, but this was an interesting idea (if unrealistic).

    But now, successful troll is successful.

    http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y147/Zheel/successful-troll-is-successful.jpg

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  239. Ugly Canuck says:

    Well in future i shall not be commenting on these game-related matters, I just do not know what’s out there.
    But I really do abhor gun violence.

  240. StudioRobot says:

    Most of you people are LNS!

    RMNDR: This is a directory of wonderful things.

    In this post, a father took an opportunity to engage with his son regarding the content of his favo(u)rite hobby.

    What would have been the ‘wonderful’ alternative? Tell him to shut it off and get a life? Ignore his silly, pointless hobby altogether? Inform him of his inadequacy compared to well-exercised jocks?

    The point is that in this newfangled world filled with families who don’t eat dinner together, you have a dad who tried to be a good dad. He actually DSCSSD the content of the game with his kid in a RSPCTFL manner. He leveled with his son, who CTLLY RCPRCTD the respect by trying the ‘XPRMNT’ (surely a sign of good parenting and family values thus far).

    Y HTRS R MSSNG TH PNT.
    most of you hurl the same 2 attacks:
    -OMFG you cant even VLT the GCs in the game stoopid nooBz
    -OMFG what a turdburgler for making his son pay for the akshins of otherz

    do you not see how these arguments cancel each other out? end result: the kid keeps playing the game he likes, and feels approval and love from his father. probably better than most of you haters could do with a kid.

    as for the whole ‘people who play video games all day are less than real people’ crowd: many kids do not handle social situations very well in their young, awkward teens. MYB this kid hasn’t learned how to handle social, outdoor situations very well because every time he tries people like you call him ‘fatty’ and make him run home. MYB video games are a huge source of pride and self-respect for him, and will eventually make him feel enough self-worth to roll with the social big-dawgs….the first time my SVRLY depressed brother traveled by himself was to New York to meet his WoW and Starcraft buddies.

    video games provide many last-picked-at-recess kids with a source of self worth they wouldn’t have had back in the day. the least parents and you tards could do is recognize that.

    Hugh and Evan, you rock. Continue being the people you want to be.

    Maybe the ‘directory of wonderful things’ needs to turn into ‘a directory of wonderful things and the non-twits that discuss them’

  241. Tenn says:

    standard military basic training consists of taking a normal, young human and turning him into something that accepts as “normal” having someone else tell him “Kill!” or “Die!”

    God, don’t remind me Takuan. One of my dearest friends- someone I’d personally take a bullet for, and if I could have kept him from this I would have- is in Basic Training right now.

    The last friend I had get out of Basic and his Voc training and everything else just went through a sort of sniper qualification class, wherein they were administered questions that boiled down to, “If a CO told you to fire upon a target who was clad in civilian clothes, and whom had never committed any acts of aggression to your knowledge, would you do so?”

    My friend’s answers boiled down to yes. This distressed his brother and I. And yet- this soldier is quite aware of the situation. He answered such because he knew that was the answer he must give. And he’s willing to give that answer to be what he wants to be. And given time in the sandbox, given time around an esprit de corps that is almost stifling sometimes, he may have no objection to such an order.

    Just Basic Training turned him into a patriot.

    But all that aside, I have to disagree with this approach. I am, by my own reckoning, well-adjusted, and I’ve been playing very violent video games since I was a very small child. I played Doom as a four year old. Recently I’ve been engaged in a game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It’s rated Teen as well, and the combat system is nowhere near as bloody as Call of Duty, which I’ve also played. KOTOR is a role playing game, as opposed to the FPS of COD. COD is a fairly linear game. You have certain objectives; you reach those objectives by any means possible, and try not to get shot in the process. I don’t recall any places where you really have the option to violate the Geneva Convention.

    However, in KOTOR, which I recently played through aligning myself as evil- Dark Side- and a Sith Lord, there were some pretty wicked decisions which could potentially be made. You could kill ailing villagers rather than help them. Sure, you didn’t -see- your lightsaber slice them to bits, the graphics aren’t that vivid, but you struck them down. At the very end, your companions try to rescue you, and you can kill them, too. One of them is a fourteen year old girl. The girl’s a Twi’lek, though, so her juvenile nature isn’t immediately apparent; I think the game designers did that on purpose. I consistently chose whichever path would advantage me most, and that was usually Dark Side.

    And while I didn’t burst out into tears as I did it, I was aware, the entire -time-, of how wrong it was.

    And so was my twelve year old brother. We let him play (mostly) the same games I grew up on, and he’s aware all the time of the wrongness of it. He loves to play shoot’em’ups, but he equally loves to play superhero games where he’s saving people. I bought him a new game, Ultimate Spiderman, a few weeks ago. This game allows you to play as Spiderman some levels- where you save civilians and fight for good and such- and then throws you into Venom others- where you kill civilians, using their energy to fuel your health.

    He enjoys each part equally well. He knows what is wrong and what is right. He likes Venom- he thinks Venom is cool, because he’s a mutant and he can leap about twenty stories into the air. But he looks -up- to Spiderman, and the Peter Parker ideal. That’s just the way we’ve raised him.

    I like that the kid knows the Geneva Convention.

    But I think it would be even more effective to not hold him by it. I don’t recall anywhere where you can actually violate it, anyway. And what if there is a place where you can, and have to, even, and not violating it prevents you from winning the game? You might say this is a good thing, but it isn’t. Life isn’t a game. In life, there’s always a chance to avoid harming others and still complete your objective. In games, there sometimes isn’t. Perhaps letting him see the results of his actions- and letting him cringe a little- would accomplish the same effect. Because barring him from the game, especially if his friends / AI teammates do something wrong- will only engender resentment.

    Coincidentally, I’m not using any names because my brother’s name is Evan, too, and I’d get confused.

  242. philoponia says:

    1. Exercise is good for everyone, regardless of video game usage or obesity.

    2. Teaching lessons to kids about things like history and the Geneva Conventions is good, regardless of whether it is out of a book or in a video game.

    3. I would love to see this rule applied to Need For Speed. (ie, games are an escape from reality where you CAN do things that are unacceptable in real life)

  243. Jack says:

    @#218 POSTED BY GREGLONDON

    Jack, you’re having a visceral reaction to something, and then trying to present it as the logical conclusion of some argument. It isn’t logical. It’s visceral.

    Hilarious strawman. Look, I’m not the only one who has issues with FPS games. Lots of people. And not just conservative fuddy duddies. Some of us are real people, who work in tech, immerse ourselves in pop culture but simply find the whole world of FPS gamers to be sick at worst and a waste of life at best.

    Now that’s only my personal point of view, but I can say the following: I’ve worked in tech since I was a teen. Which means over 20 years. 100% of nobody I have ever worked with who was competent or had a balanced life spent more than casual time in a gaming world. All of this talk FPS games and even Warcraft-like games “enhancing” problem solving skills is 100% of nonsense. It’s the same logic that dictates someone will get an HDTV to share “educational” shows/movies with their kids; delusional nonsense created to justify real intents. Every person I have ever worked with who plays FPS games has been difficult to work with, hard to get to work with teams in the real world and mostly gone within a few months when me and the team I’m on realized we made a mistake.

    If you want to play FPS games, go ahead. Nobody is stopping you. But to deny what they are and how they function is delusional.

  244. not a username says:

    Parenthood and childhood are difficult, and every child – parent relationship is different, so I don’t think I can offer an opinion as to whether this is good or bad for this particular gamer.

    But I couldn’t help but notice the irony in teaching the kid about the Geneva Conventions by punishing him (in real life, by taking the game away) even when it’s only the people he’s playing with that might have virtually “violated” them. It’s ironic because the Conventions themselves (Protocol II, part II, article 4, paragraph 2) very specifically prohibit collective punishment and require individual guilt (Art 6, paragraph 2) before any penalty can be imposed.

    Maybe dad should read up on the Conventions himself a bit.

  245. rasz says:

    #22 posted by PrettyBoyTim
    that captiv was an enemy combatant so its all good, US Prez said so!

  246. Cicada says:

    Okay, leaving aside whether childhood obesity, apart from any other fitness factors, contributes to early atherosclerotic plaque formation…

    What’s the deal with protecting pixels from war crimes? The kid could technically gun down everything he saw and be in strict obedience to the conventions, because the things apply to people, not to electronics.
    Someone who tried to apply game laws and customs to real life would be a bit of a nut (“Don’t worry, he’ll respawn in a minute.”). Applying real life laws and customs to games is blurring the sanity line a bit, too, I think.

  247. Takuan says:

    you fascinate me Tenn. You know right from wrong, but who taught you?

  248. Cruftbox says:

    I agree with The Boy, morality in games is much more an issue in RPGs, not FPS.

    Fallout 3 has multiple storylines, based on the actions of player, in which they suffer or benefit from the consequences of their actions.

    Bioshock also has a bit of a moral choice, but not to the same degree as Fallout 3.

    In FPS games, there is no option for diplomacy or negotiation, as there is within RPG games.

    Trying to teach morality from a FPS is unrealistic.

    There are much more opportunity to learn good behavior and decision making in MMORPGs, but it would involve parental involvement to guide and monitor the child. But the payoffs in learnig such things as budgeting, leadership, and working in a group are significant.

  249. Anonymous says:

    Having spent far too much time reading the comments section of this post, I think it’s time for boingboing to go away from my bookmarks for awhile. Flamewars and such nonsense can be a fun time-waster, but the sense of righteous indignation and superiority that pervades most of this now utterly ridiculous argument has elevated this entire missive to the greatest heights of over-baked, and over-done navel gazing. Seeya kids. I’m off to greener fields…

  250. Tenn says:

    Saying something that you believe to be right, despite the ramifications, is a sign of true character.

    There is a tactful way to go about all things. Tact is often far more efficient. I’ve disagreed with this blog in the past. I did just now.

    But the way in which I -do- it is far more likely of garnering a response. If you don’t believe in tact for tact’s sake, then believe in it because it just works, darn it.

    I admit. I’m not tactful all the time. In fact, I’m usually a lot more tactful with superiors, because they have the power to ‘punish’. Or with people I’m trying to convince of a certain view point, because honey gathers more flies than vinegar.

    If I really had a problem with a view expressed by the Boingers, I would relate it in the thread in a respectful manner, and thus not get disemvowelled. Nobody likes being bad mouthed in their own house.

    But if I had a problem with the Boinger’s behavior, I would probably relate it in a quiet email to them. This may or may not be the best approach; but my experience is that people are more likely to change their behavior if you call them out on it in private. This is just human nature.

    Granted. Cory’s response was annoyed, and not the most tactful thing that it could have been. But as it’s his home, he has the right to do it. If it really bothers someone, they’re free to exit. There’s lots more internet out there, and the Boingers have consistently expressed that they are going to run this blog as they see fit, because it is a private blog. If it loses them viewership, so be it.

  251. Steve_Saus says:

    @pshaffer – perhaps you should revisit some of the literature. The predictive value of BMI or body fat for coronary artery disease has begun to be seriously questioned. You also just contributed to the reluctance of obese people (regardless of reason) to see their doctors.

    Why? They don’t want to hear rants like yours, where “more exercise” is the only prescription, regardless of any other underlying condition like PCOS or hypothyroidism.

  252. buddy66 says:

    F**K that *doctor*! He insults a 13-year-old kid from his goddamn high horse, on the basis of a murky photograph, and then advises on the indisputable benefits of exercise by way of justifying his boorishness. I hope the X-rays don’t eat you, doc; maybe exercise can deflect them.

  253. sloansteddi says:

    I don’t get it, so the kid has to provide proper medical treatment to wounded enemy soldiers and allow ICRC access to his POW camps? My FPS knowledge ends with counterstrike years ago, so I don’t know CoD, but I’m still unclear on what the child could POSSIBLY do to adhere to geneve/hague.

    As for proof, there is research that suggests that video games lead to increased aggression (not necessarily violence link) and “diminished brain responses to images of real-life violence”. Or, if you like, the studies are bad and not useful. I’m not saying that just because a kid plays Halo he/she’s necessarily going to go on an extra-terrestrial shooting spree, but I think it’s silly to say that there’s no link between consuming/participating in lots of violent media and being violent.

    On the other hand, I guess the problem with that theory is all the people who a)play tons of violent games and aren’t violent, and b)the people who never played a game and cut up their neighbors. Oh, I just don’t know WHAT to think…

  254. Anonymous says:

    Jesus Christ, perspective please, people. Regardless of whether the game is a T or M, regardless of whether is it first or third player perspective, the post is about how a father used his knowledge and judgement of his sons maturity and moral understanding to make a decision about whether he got to play a game, and set some boundaries, rather than lettignthe censors do it for him. That equals good parenting any anyone’s book. The child is obviously loved and valued, and well educated, and he is not obese.

  255. holtt says:

    Tenn, it was sarcasm and humor. Better to aim little slings and arrows at those on top than aim them at those below.

    As someone who spent about 4 years co-designing a commercially successful WW2 shooter game that is still in publication, I have a hunch that ultimately the parent’s goals aren’t reachable. For better or worse, AAA commercial games are made to get the masses playing and buying. Just like “might makes right” in the real word, so does it in the commercial video game space.

    What would be pretty interesting as a thought experiment though would be to go play a multiplayer only game and try to abide by the Geneva Convention. Take Day of Defeat: Source for example, where when one team wins the round, the other team gets free “slaughter round” where the losing players can’t shoot or defend, but the winners can. Take no prisoners taken to a decidedly humiliating and sad level of “fun”.

    One thing you don’t find in shooters is the option to surrender. Could you for example surrender in CoD or DoD: Source? What do you do with prisoners? What does the AI do with prisoners? The same goes with civilians. Imagine a WW2 shooter (multiplayer) in a small French town. There might be clear military advantages to taking one route, but with great risk of civilian casualties.

    Indie games certainly can take us out of this kind of mindset, and rightfully should. First person medical game anyone? I’d play it if it pulled me in deep with immersion, and I could figuratively taste the sweat and smell the blood of the ER, see the patient die (or live) and have to tell the loved ones. Sounds like a great game design contest for Offworld – make a game that forces you to make choices where there are costs.

    I’ll echo “THE BOY”‘s post about other games. I particularly like Fallout 3 and Oblivion. Both include some pretty heavy choices about what you can do, and what the ramifications are. If you find someone lost in the wastelands who needs help, you’re free to shoot and rob them, or help them, or ignore them. And how you act in turn influences how others treat you. Karma can lift you up, or bite you in the ass.

    One of the saddest in-game things I have played that taps into morality is in Oblivion when you’ve joined the assassin’s group. You are part of a secret organization with a secret clubhouse, populated with a set of NPCs that in a way become familiar and friends. Then in the end, you have to kill them all. Not because you see something bad in them that must be corrected, but just because someone tells you to. And in the end, your “clubhouse” lies empty with the bodies of your former friends. And that is the end. There are no new friends, no new NPCs. In the end your obedience takes you to loneliness.

  256. djn says:

    @Cory: Given that he’s got supporting evidence (description of low-activity life style; picture; statistics on increasing levels of childhood obesity/the things that lead to it/the effects of it), saying what is in effect “it’d probably be good for his heart if he exercised more” doesn’t seem overly speculative?

    @Cicada: Then again, this is a game that aims for emulating reality (to a certain extent), so isn’t it somehow in the spirit of the game to make your simulated soldier follow rules he would have been expected to?
    Who knows, maybe it makes the experience more interesting.

  257. legweak says:

    This is stupid. Please use your powers for things of more importance than this, people.

    Remember, games are escapism and entertainment venues, primarily. Not that you can’t and shouldn’t learn, but COD is NOT the venue to learn anything realistic about war. And I’m speaking from experience.

  258. StudioRobot says:

    Aw, crap i meant to sign my comment as the jock record producer, lol.

  259. Steve_Saus says:

    @cicada – Remember the Virtual Milgram experiment from a few years ago? Researchers repeated Stanley Milgram’s experiment and found that people had an emotional, visceral reaction to pixels and even text on a screen (like IM). Sure, it was less, but it was a reaction nonetheless.

    I think this is an excellent example of what schooling could be (we’re homeschoolers, and use this kind of philosophy whenever possible).

  260. sloansteddi says:

    @mastercontroller
    tl;dr
    -george

  261. Destructor says:

    >No poking barbs at Cory.

    Really? Look, I love Cory. I’ve queued in order to meet him. I have bought copies of all of his books, some of them signed. I subscribe to his podcast. I read all his columns. I run around giving copies of Little Brother to friends and insisting they read it. I’m a huge fan.

    Doesn’t change the fact that his response to OP was a massive over-reaction and his tweet about it a really petty attmpt to get his fans on-side. Still a fan, but I’m not buying it. A jerky thing to do is a jerky thing to do- and insisting that people don’t point it out just because he happens to post here is just perpetuating it.

  262. Cory Doctorow says:

    @Steve_Saus Well said: this struck me as a great example of capitalizing on a teaching moment; using the thing your kid is passionate about to get him thinking more broadly and adventurously.

  263. theLadyfingers says:

    How exactly can you violate the Geneva Convention in Call of Duty?

  264. unicorn breath says:

    man you guys sure made this un-fun really quickly.

    i think it’s a great example of parenting 2.0.

  265. holtt says:

    @sloansteddi
    ts;gi

    (too short; googled it)

  266. mortis says:

    Well in future i shall not be commenting on these game-related matters, I just do not know what’s out there.

    Hey, there are a few politicians i’d like you to talk to…

    But I really do abhor gun violence.
    can’t disagree there…but is wartime combat really “gun violence” now? i need to rethink my medals i guess.

    ^m^

  267. Anonymous says:

    Please don’t listen to the goddamn moron loons telling you how to raise your kid. This is a perfectly excellent way to be engaged without being a “friend,” and you showed great respect for both your son’s interests and his boundaries.

  268. scartol says:

    I don’t understand how you can violate the Geneva Conventions on COD:WaW. There are no civilians, there are no prisoners. And the history-genius mom found the game content accurate? Red-dot-style crosshairs on the weapons and recon planes that mimic GPS reports?

    I love the COD games and I think using video games to teach kids about the Geneva Conventions is great. But I don’t know how they mix here, and I think calling WaW accurate is a joke.

  269. Tenn says:

    who taught you?

    Books. Language is a wonder, and the ability of authors to communicate emotion as a result of action is beautiful. Nowhere do you learn right and wrong as easily and quickly as you do through literature.

    Tenn, it was sarcasm and humor.

    I recognized that much at least. But I have trouble reading tone even when I am face-to-face with someone. To me, it seems like you were still being critical of Mr. Doctorow, in a particularly offensive way. If you were simply mocking to the idea, then I retract my statements towards you and redirect them towards everyone else being rude.

    If you were being mocking to a person, they remain.

    You are part of a secret organization with a secret clubhouse,

    I remember that. It was rather chilling. Afterwards, the price you paid- nothing at all, in terms of the game- almost doesn’t seem enough for what you get- which is acceptance by the organization, which seems a lot more reprehensible in light of the order and your actions.

  270. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I didn’t sign the stinkin’ Geneva Convention so I don’t play by Geneva Convention rules. Besides, the most fun thing in Call of Duty is to slash the Jerry’s throats and leave them writhing on the ground bleeding to death.

  271. robulus says:

    Hello Ugly Canuck!

    “joining” a movie/radio/book/comic character does not involve the neural feedback involved in the physical act of playing the game.

    How would you know? When was the last time you played one? I mean I think you can make a generalisation that video games are more immersive than movies, but a good movie that gets you in will trigger just the same kind of response a game will. Books probably even more. You guys talk about video games like they’re voodoo magic or something.

    These FPS games are all about you killing someone: they are good at making people comfortable shooting things.
    Good for the NRA, good for killers, good for sociopaths & adolescent power fantasies, good for army training: trained to react quickly with shooting.

    They vary widely in gameplay. They are crap at training soldiers for combat. They are entertainment, like movies.

    Any connection between these games and the incredibly bloody and trigger-happy way your soldiers are conducting themselves in Afghanistan? Or in Iraq before they decided not to patrol outside the wire?

    No. Apparently, that stuff has been going on for some time. Probably since organic matter first formed itself into DNA strands 4 billion years ago.

    Why no spear/bow & arrow FPS games? Why only automatic weapons?

    TUROK!!!!!

    Censorship is not an answer.

    Really? You can’t imagine any sort of video game that might need to be censored? I can. I guess I’d take it case by case, rather than make huge sweeping generalisations about a whole modern medium.

    but these games do not make for better or kinder or more sympathetic citizens.

    So, seriously, you think young Kevin up there is a less kind, less sympathetic citizen now? After sitting around with his Dad discussing the whole Geneva Convention thing and being cool with it? He’s now a cold hearted killing machine, dead inside, incapable of empathy, right?

    Savagery is never justified: it is not even justifiable.

    Well I think I’m pretty clear on this by now, but just to be sure….

    If you are a pacifist, and you condemn depictions of violence in all media, including movies, then good on you. I think thats quite a justifiable point of view, but not one I share. If you just want to single out video games, I think you’re a bit of a crank.

    Imitation/make-believe savagery is for children. And the immature, and for the fantasies of the powerless.

    Yeah but I play…. oh. Right.

  272. Cicada says:

    @8- The trick then isn’t to treat games like reality, but to reinforce to our poor unevolved brains (which have a hard time separating image from reality) the difference between pretend and actual.
    Having a visceral reaction to pixels is essentially an emotional “optical illusion”. <0>@6- Talk to a reasonable selection of WWII vets. What was expected of them legally seems to have varied a bit in practice. (Much moreso in the pacific theater, but all the same…)

  273. Anonymous says:

    Such ugliness…how american.

    The research project had little to nothing to do with the game. It was an opportunity for dad to educate his son on something that was important to him, instead of trotting out a knee-jerk “SAVE THE CHILDREN” response.

    Kudos to him. IMO, the children do need to be saved…from us.

  274. holtt says:

    RTFGC? :^)

  275. Stu Mark says:

    I disagree that Cory overreacted. If the previous comment had been from someone who didn’t profess to be a doctor, it would be different, but if that person really is a doctor, his comment was worthy of a good torching.

    And for all that is holy, can we *please* let go of this concept of what is acceptable weight. Body image has got to be the least of our concerns as fellow travelers on this orb.

    …as always, just my opinion, feel free to disagree harshly, with salt and razor wire.

  276. Cicada says:

    Fun thought– if he were playing a game set in a pre-Geneva Convention era, would there be a problem with him following the conventions of the time?

    Even more fun– assuming his class happened to put on a production of Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, would you have a problem if he wound up cast as Henry and gave the order for every man to kill his prisoners?

  277. mrsomuch says:

    Me too, I think it’s a fantastic way to engage your child and expand their horizons. He is learning about fundamental real world things and taking responsibility for them. The fact that he is doing this in a virtual capacity does not limit its impact. That’s like saying anything I learn from the internet doesn’t count because it’s not ‘real’.

    I do projects with my daughter like this all the time – if she has spellings to learn I encourage her to research the word online or in books and then write a short sentence about it, this way she can engage with the word and understand its place in our global lexicon – she learns more than just the word and will be sure to remember it – she also learns how to learn, which is invaluable.

    Go Team Spencer!

  278. Stu Mark says:

    Dear Mr. Spencer,

    Bravo on the parenting, all the way around:

    You took an actual interest in your kid’s world, not a cursory one.

    You showed your kid respect.

    You were thoughtful of his feelings.

    You engaged him in a real-world, mature dialogue.

    You helped him educate himself.

    …Parenting is tough business, maybe one of the toughest jobs in the world, maybe one of the the toughest jobs to excel at. Bravo to you for even making the attempt, regardless of outcome (although your assessment that he keeps his word seems to show real success, alluding to a depth in parenting – I’m guessing the game interaction wasn’t an anomaly of your relationship with your child) – As a parent, I get that it’s impossible to judge another’s parenting without a huge amount of data, so my opinion expressed here is a total swag, but I couldn’t let the opportunity go by without a comment.

    Good luck to you, sir.

    Sincerely,

    Stu Mark
    (Parent of a 13 year-old and 16 year-old)

  279. sloansteddi says:

    @Holtt aww man, it was supposed to be a george w bush joke… I guess it was too oblique.

    @tenn/takuan why don’t y’all just pm eachother, or go out for a beer? I suppose the latter isn’t practical…

  280. the_boy says:

    @Holtt

    that needs to be a shirt. A ‘pity’ t-shirt hell is dead and can’t make it

  281. robulus says:

    @Ugly Canuck

    Funniest. Video. Game. Disease. Evar!

    The condition has been previously found on the soles of the feet in children taking part in heavy physical activity, such as jogging.

    Yes. I believe this disease is also known by it’s lay term, “blisters”.

    If you’re worried about soreness on your hands when playing a games console, it might be sensible to give your hands a break from time to time

    Yes. That might be sensible. Thank God for experts, eh?

  282. Faustus says:

    #5 I’m not sure I agree with you there.

    Yes obese people are scared of going to their doctor because they’ll get told to do more exercise, but no this isn’t because doctors are ignoring other underlying problems. There are many other symptoms that go with hypothyroidism for example that would be spotted apart form just the fact you’re fat. In fact just being fat isn’t a symptom, gaining weight is a symptom.

    The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of obese people could lose that weight if they began doing more exercise and changed their diet, and this would be beneficial to their general health. Only a tiny minority have underlying conditions that would account for the obesity, and even in that event exercise is still beneficial.

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