Make peace not war


(some images are from wikipedia ->here and here)

There had been lately again much discussion over here in Germany about video games and their role in real lifes.

This current discussion is mostly due to a very recent amok run of an 18 year old in the german town of Emsdetten, who was extensively playing the video game “counterstrike” (but see also e.g. Columbine high school and Erfurt massacre).

It is a difficult question at what point games are taken so seriously that they mingle with reality. I think it is not dangerous in principle to play video/computer games, but it is no news that extensive media consumption and thus also media games consumption alters the perceptional abilities like e.g. affecting the ability to draw humans.

And so I think there is indeed a potential danger in the use of video games. However it makes no sense to forbid e.g. killer games in general. That would make them only more interesting. It would be much more useful to care that especially kids are not left alone with the games. That they may discuss what they see and feel and they have easy access to alternative games and ways to spend their time. Next to school, libraires and youth centers are a good place for such a practise. However over here especially these are dying fast and silent.

I also think that egoshooters are rather the harmless end of videogames. People usually know that they are playing against a machine. But what about war in multiplayer games? Virtual communication is quite different from real communication there are much less possibilities to interact in a human way and there are not always established modes how to treat conflicts. Things are easily misinterpreted. Are there already gang wars in second life? What happens if emotions get so strong that they swap into the real world?

And the mingling of video games with a cruel reality is unfortunately already there.

So e.g. the distribution of ego shooters among real soldiers is a common thing and practised by various armies in the world (see e.g. here). Waiting for combat soldiers are provided with these games in order to prepare them for their shooting tasks and in order to alienate them from the real.

An equally hard-to-swallow version of this commingling of games, virtual identities and real wars is e.g. the project AXL at at the ICT at the university of santa cruz where army leaders train their decision making process via interactive training technologies.

How far are we from brainwashing with interactive technologies?

It is very, very important to make artistic and lovable videogames, but they are faint. Especially if they do not appeal to strong human drives and needs. One has to keep this in mind.

Charlie Chaplins film “the great dictator“, is an absolutely great and moving film, it is a very strong appeal to humanity. It was also Chaplins personal address to the dictators at that time. In his film Chaplin begs Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin for observing human rights. Chaplin was about the same age as Hitler and came from a similar social background. It is said that Hitler saw the film probably twice. We know Chaplins appeal didn’t work.

On the other hand sometimes it may work. Even if sometimes very slow.

2 Responses to “Make peace not war”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    AXL is not a video game… and ICT is at USC. Some fact checking might be in order here.

  2. nad Says:

    thanks anonymous! The AXL is of course located at the University of Southern California and not at Santa Cruz! The “Santa Cruz” may have been a Freudian slip, since I am aware of the geography and in fact dropped into ICT via the Annenberg Center.

    I didnt claim (please see above) that AXL is a video game, but that it uses interactive training technologies and that it is related to games – maybe my phrasing was not clear enough at that point.

    I think that any simulation or interactive training application has a game-like aspect. And using “Hollywood storytelling techniques to create fictional case studies addressing specific leadership issues” such as in AXL makes the connection between the training application and games even more explicit – in my point of view.

    I actually listed AXL as an example of an ICT project in order to encourage readers to read also about the other ICT projects, which involve simulations of “real” decision making processes, like e.g. the virtual humans or e.g. The Stability and Support Operations—Simulation and Training (SASO-ST) project or the Commercial Platform Training Aids.

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