Violent games on the OLPC Activities page
echerlin at gmail.com
Thu Jan 17 19:03:44 EST 2008
On Jan 17, 2008 2:49 PM, Antoine van Gelder <hummingbird at hivemind.net> wrote:
> Bennett Todd wrote:
> > Let's get a concrete definition of "violence" and I think the
> > disagreement will fade right out.
Absolutely not. I for one take an entirely contrary view on violence.
Background first: I have played war games, text adventure games, video
games, and so on. My daughter plays violent games for a living at
LucasArts. She has no trouble distinguishing between games in which
she is to kill everything in sight, games where there are Good Guys
and Bad Guys, and the real world, in which she is something of a
pacifist, rather like me. We don't live by an Us vs Them philosophy.
I was in the hills north of Seoul, Korea, in 1968 when a North Korean
assassination team came through a few miles away, heading for the Blue
House (the Presidential residence of Pak Cheonghee). When the North
Koreans were surrounded by the police, one of them threw a grenade on
a bus, killing a good friend of my best friend in the Peace Corps.
People I stayed with also endured tear-gassing by the South Korean
police from time to time. The North Koreans seized a US Navy vessel,
the Pueblo, while I was there, and there were moderately frequent
military incidents between North Korea on one side and South Korea and
the US on the other the whole time I lived there.
Now to the question: It is conventionally up to governments to decide
what content is allowed in their schools, and to parents what content
is allowed in their homes, with religious advice in both cases.
(Please don't argue the details. I am aware that advice amounts to
coercion in many cases, and I know about a great deal more, which I am
skipping over in order to come to the point.) I see no point in OLPC
arguing with either governments or families about their rights in
these matters. Others may wish to, but that is no part of the question
And to the actual point: I want children to read violent literature,
such as Alice in Wonderland or Huckleberry Finn or the Oz books or A
Series of Unfortunate Events or Harry Potter, and later on War and
Peace. I want them to see violent movies, such as Snow White or Peter
Pan; or Blood Diamond or Hotel Rwanda or Dingaka; or again any of the
versions of War and Peace. I also want violent games to be available
to children. Not as a steady diet, and not as propaganda for war. But
children live in a dangerous world, where government and family are
not the least of the dangers they face, and need the opportunity to
explore both real and fictitious dangers, to the extent that *they*
find useful and interesting.
Why are Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket so popular with children? In
large part, because at least two adults understand what children feel
they are up against and say so rather plainly, right under the noses
of the adults. Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, expresses this
sentiment strongly, also, and there are many others. All of
Huckleberry Finn is about Huck wrestling with adult notions of right
and wrong, particularly the right of adults at that time to visit
violence on slaves and children, and his ultimate decision not to join
in, even if it means (as he has been taught) that he will go to Hell,
I will not argue against a category for violence, along with other
categories, but I will argue strongly against any exclusion of
violence. I would accept the repurposing of the Supreme Court's
criteria for obscenity, that we can exclude material by considering,
among other things, "whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious
literary, artistic, political or scientific value…" (This replaced the
"no redeeming social value" standard).
In the case of Doom, I would vote thus, having seen it played at some length.
If the Sin City game had materialized, I might have given it a Yes for
literary, artistic, and political, (assuming that those elements of
the graphic novel and movie survived the transition) but still, of
course, a No for scientific. There are violent Space War games with
realistic gravity simulations that would get a Yes for scientific.
From me, at least.
I also want to involve the children in inherently more interesting
games, so that they don't feel that they have to escape from boredom
with the artificial excitement of violent computer games. Discovering
the real world, for example. Linux, by far the best computer game I
know, with endless levels of wizardry to achieve. And so on.
The biggest problem I have with this discussion is that we aren't
talking with any children. I intensely dislike the "When I want to
hear *your* opinion, I'll tell it to you" of so much conventional
> If I did it to you and you would go *ouch* as a result then it is violent.
If you did it to me, sure. If you do it to electrons, I don't care.
> - antoine
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