Violent games on the OLPC Activities page

Albert Cahalan acahalan at
Thu Jan 17 20:26:39 EST 2008

Bryan Berry writes:

> I feel very strongly that violent games should not be associated
> with OLPC. Albert Cahalan points out that games like Doom can
> teach geometry and other skills. There are ways to teach those
> skills w/out involving violence. I work in Nepal, a country
> recovering from an 11-year civil war. Exposure to more violence,
> real or virtual, is the last thing most Nepali communities want.

OLPC is not shipping DOOM. That really ought to put an end to
things right then and there. OLPC is **not** shipping DOOM.
You're referring to a simple list of all activities. Many of
the activities aren't even working; the list covers **all**.

Sorry to hear about your war.

Games like DOOM provide a powerful incentive to learn subjects
like geometry and physics; the teaching is done elsewhere.
I happen to have a brother who would not have bothered to study
these subjects except that he had an intense desire to learn
how to make video games like the ones he'd been playing. Games
like DOOM set him on a path to learn about coordinate transforms,
linear algebra, computing efficiency, and so on. I wouldn't want
to deny that to any child.

> We can debate forever whether violent games cause violence.
> The fact is many those people (esp. outside the US) whose
> support we need for OLPC, think that violent games are damaging
> to kids. We need to respect that sentiment.

On a mainly development-oriented wiki, we certainly don't.
I suggest that you start a wiki in Nepal, with mirrors of
the activities you like best.

I notice that people tend to object on behalf of other people.
Nobody ever tries to claim that they felt compelled to download
something that then messed up their life.

I find some of the non-activity content on the wiki to be
highly offensive. The wiki actually has a PDF of a book that
strongly encourages genuine violence and intolerance. DOOM
is nothing by comparison. Unlike that book, DOOM has not
caused millions of real humans to die and many more to be
horribly oppressed.

As for inappropriate activities, nothing beats Browse. Students
in Nigeria have been using it to study anatomy, which is often
considered an inappropriate subject.

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