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Swedish Dad Takes Gamer Kids To Warzone 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-dad-took-me-to-a-turtle-farm-before-i-could-play-super-mario dept.
Z00L00K sends this excerpt from The Local: A Swedish father has come under fire for taking his two sons on a trip to Israel, the West Bank and occupied Syria in order to teach them the reality of war. [Carl-Magnus Helgegren is] a journalist, university teacher, and proactive dad. And like so many other dads, Helgegren had to have the violent video-game conversation with his two sons, Frank and Leo, aged ten and 11 respectively. "We were sitting at the dinner table last autumn, and my kids started telling me about this game they wanted to play, the latest Call of Duty game, and told me about the guns and missions," Helgegren told The Local on Friday. So Helgegren struck a deal. The family would take a trip to a city impacted by real war. The boys would meet people affected, do interviews, and visit a refugee camp. And when they came back home, they would be free to play whatever games they chose.
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Swedish Dad Takes Gamer Kids To Warzone

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:46PM (#47679341)
    I love how people insist on commenting on what fathers or mothers do to teach their children about reality. If you did not hand them weapons or put them in the line of fire (keep in mind in some countries even that is perfectly acceptable for a 12 year old), then mind your own freekin beeswax. Why is this even a /. story?

    Side note? I would do the same with my kids if I actually got up off my ass and stopped typing on computers for 10 minutes. Sad.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:48PM (#47679373) Journal
    Back in my day, parents would say, "you want that? Save up your money! I'll pay you 50 cents every time you mow the lawn, now get to work." And I was grateful!
  • by WinterSolstice (223271) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:49PM (#47679393)

    Great dad, in my opinion. My kids grew up involved in hunting, fishing, and shooting sports - but a trip to a refugee camp would probably have cured them of the FPS BS faster than anything.

    Fortunately, they were never really into videogames.

  • by jargonburn (1950578) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:51PM (#47679413)
    No, seriously. This guy was thinking of his children.
    I think it's great that he wants to give them a dose of reality. I think a lot of us in the US (and not just kids) could use that kind of experience.
    Does it pose some risk to the kids? Yeah, sure. Growing up has all sorts of risks.
    Which is why some of us never do.
  • Re: Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:52PM (#47679429)

    because we all grew up playing violent video games and studying it's impact and how we handle others growing up on them is worthwhile; even if the impact is nil.

  • FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roninmagus (721889) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:54PM (#47679453)
    "A Swedish father has come under fire for interacting with the real world."
  • by Seumas (6865) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:55PM (#47679463)

    Would you do it if they were reading comic books about war? Watching movies? Watching 50s movies with John Wayne about war? Reading novels about war? Playing war in the yard? If they started playing cops and robbers in the back yard with the neighbor kids, is it time to haul them off to a Scared Straight session at a prison, to impress upon them the harsh realities of a life of crime?

    This whole story is a tale of over-reaction that only seemed to have occurred, because "oh my god, video games!".

    Wanting to expose your children to realities beyond those as depicted by popular media is a thoughtful thing to do. Not so much when it's a swift over-reaction to "OMG VIDEO GAMES!".

    And, really, the truth seems more to be "freelance journalist does a freelance journalist thing and uses his kids as fodder for more freelance journalism". What do you figure the odds are he'd be doing this and documenting it if, say, he were a flight mechanic or a plumber and there weren't some other benefit besides that to his children?

  • by mrbcs (737902) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:55PM (#47679467)
    So I showed my kids the multi part color documentary on world war two.
    We discussed all kinds of issues:
    Bombings, genocide, gas chambers, blockades, dictators.

    They get it. They know war is horrible and they know what a game is.

    It's called parenting. I applaud this guy's efforts.

  • Re:Reality. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gothzilla (676407) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:00PM (#47679529)
    If he did then he wouldn't have been able to come up with the idea of teaching his kids the difference between fantasy and reality.
  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:03PM (#47679559)

    Why would this cure anyone of FPS BS? What correlation is there between FPS and real war? Who plays an FPS because they wanted to go to war, but didn't like travel?

    I don't mind shooting up some virtual people, I want to be as far away from real war as I possibly can be. You can like, die there. And I hear that's not the worst possible outcome by far. Down here in Texas the number of people with missing limbs and purple heart license plates is staggering, especially considering what wars we're in aren't really that large scale.

    Kids are going to grow up and say "Yeah, Dad is kind of a stick in the mud. We wanted to CoD:BLOps on a new XBox, and he took us to the West Bank and showed us decapitated people. We just went over to friend's houses to play games after that."

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:05PM (#47679567)

    Would you do it if they were reading comic books about war?

    If the US DoD were spending enormous amounts of money developing those comic books with the express purpose of making war look as glamorous and consequence-free as possible, then yes, I would still let my kids read them, because I disagree with intellectual censorship in any form, at any age. But you can bet I'd talk with them about what they were reading, who wrote it, and why they might have written it.

  • by Yakasha (42321) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:05PM (#47679569) Homepage
    I've heard that a few times over the years. Americans don't know what war is like because we've never had to suffer it personally. Our soldiers always go somewhere else to fight.

    So, I say this sounds like a perfect education. You kids like playing war? Lets go see what war really is because games & stories don't do it justice. Look it in the eyes and you won't treat it like a game anymore.

    When they're adults, these kids will be able to look back and use this experience to make an informed decision on whether or not to fight in whatever conflict their country gets into. Sweden's next generation of decision makers will be better equipped because of the presence of these kid's experience.

  • by pitchpipe (708843) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:16PM (#47679687)

    Would you do it if they were reading comic books about war? Watching movies? Watching 50s movies with John Wayne about war? Reading novels about war? Playing war in the yard? If they started playing cops and robbers in the back yard with the neighbor kids, is it time to haul them off to a Scared Straight session at a prison, to impress upon them the harsh realities of a life of crime?

    I think that every American should have to take a trip to the war zone to see what our tax dollars go to supporting.

    This whole story is a tale of over-reaction that only seemed to have occurred, because "oh my god, video games!".

    Or maybe it's just a father trying to raise his children to be good humans. Nah!

    Wanting to expose your children to realities beyond those as depicted by popular media is a thoughtful thing to do. Not so much when it's a swift over-reaction to "OMG VIDEO GAMES!".

    How do you know it was an over reaction? Were you there when they were discussing it? Maybe they're just a really thoughtful family. Also, what about the children who are already in the middle of the war zone? I don't see anyone wanting to try to mitigate that.

    And, really, the truth seems more to be "freelance journalist does a freelance journalist thing and uses his kids as fodder for more freelance journalism". What do you figure the odds are he'd be doing this and documenting it if, say, he were a flight mechanic or a plumber and there weren't some other benefit besides that to his children?

    A plumber or flight mechanic going there with their kids? Maybe. Documenting it? Doubtful, as they generally tend to not make documentaries.

    I like how you stated it as "uses his kids as fodder." I'd put it more as "Family man sees opportunities to teach his children to become good stewards of the planet, and documents it to try to help others do the same."

    I guess it all depends on your perspective.

  • by gwstuff (2067112) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:16PM (#47679691)

    Ask someone, anyone, who has been to a region in which people fight to survive, and has to the smallest extent, even by simply talking to those people, shared their experiences. Unfailingly, the person will tell you that the experience changed his or her perspective, and that since then he is better, larger, more generous.

    If you starve for a few days for the lack of food, a spoonful of plain, white, unsalted rice will taste better than the richest gourmet meal. My memory of the bowl of rice I had after 4 days of hunger is a calming, delicious memory. It was not the relief of having got food - but my whole body rejoicing from the taste of the soft, wholesome, starchy taste filling up in my mouth - a taste that I had not recognized until then.

    We in the west are shielded from the harsh realities of life, little do we know that we are not exempt of them, we only ignore them, until one day it becomes impossible to do so. But if you have to face such realities then the perverse suffering caused by banalities - Internet connection going down, personal relationship problems simply dither away into insignificance.

    I think it would be beneficial to society as a whole if every education included such encounters which teach people that life cannot be compared to the boom and splat of video games.

  • by Zalbik (308903) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:26PM (#47679789)

    If the US DoD were spending enormous amounts of money developing those comic books with the express purpose of making war look as glamorous and consequence-free as possible, then yes, I would still let my kids read them, because I disagree with intellectual censorship in any form, at any age. But you can bet I'd talk with them about what they were reading, who wrote it, and why they might have written it.

    And what does this have to do with the article? As far as I can tell, the US DoD has nothing to do with the development of Call of Duty.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:35PM (#47679887)

    I think you need to take a trip to real war to find out.

  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine&gmail,com> on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:44PM (#47679995) Homepage Journal

    What FPS BS? I deployed. I was under fire. Death was seen, bodies, human bones, discarded equipment with blood splotches, people shitting themselves, the whole nine yards. I still love FPS games. They are fun and are imaginary.

  • Re:Problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:46PM (#47680017)

    I'm going to guess that the video game angle is kind of irrelevant. He took his kids from a very wealthy, stable country -- to go see how the other half live. They received first hand, a very real lesson in the way the world works.

    Kudos to the dad.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:48PM (#47680049) Homepage Journal

    Why would this cure anyone of FPS BS? What correlation is there between FPS and real war? Who plays an FPS because they wanted to go to war, but didn't like travel?

    I don't mind shooting up some virtual people, I want to be as far away from real war as I possibly can be.

    Yes, as an adult, you realize that. But would you have realized it as a child? Probably not, if the only experience you had with guns and death was video-game based.

    Which, if I'm not mistaken, is the whole friggin' point.

  • Differences (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:52PM (#47680093) Homepage Journal

    Typical American - "You're not raising your children the way I think children should be raised, so you're wrong!"

    At least, it sure as hell seems that way. It's understandable to want to call obviously bad parents on obviously egregious acts, like beating a child, but we 'Muricans take it to the next level, demanding government action any time someone wants to rear their own offspring in a way that certain segments of society have deemed unfit.

    Let your kid walk a 1/2 mile to the park and play by himself? We used to call that normal, now it's a criminal offense. [kmbc.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:59PM (#47680205)

    What, you mean like all those real soldiers who play FPS games? Doesn't seem to cure them.

  • I think these kids will avoid FPS games like the plague after this, but not because of any moral lesson, because there is almost none to be learned about FPSes here - since as you point out, FPSes are just games.

    The real lesson will be "last time I asked dad for an FPS, he took us on an awful and depressing vacation of epic proportions, so I'm not going to touch them with a 30 foot pole now."

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:21PM (#47680427)

    As a child, I had no issues seeing games for what they are. The same is true today. Parents need to parent and stop blaming games or anything else, for 'influence.' If you're not gonna parent, don't have kids.

    call of duty != war. That's fine if he wants to take his kids to israel, but I think there are easier, cheaper ways to reality check his kids.

  • by crakbone (860662) on Friday August 15, 2014 @05:56PM (#47682047)
    The headline is a bit blown out. He didn't take them quite so recently. It wasn't the full blow war zone it is now. He was a journalist and wanted to show his kids what the games they were playing were really based on. He showed them everything, refugee camps, idf soldiers. They even got to sit on a tank. They saw the wounded, sick, impoverished, and injured. They saw the effects of any war. That is valuable for people to learn. That when we commit troops and weapons to such a prospect, what the consequences are and who has to pay the price for that.
  • by LetterRip (30937) on Friday August 15, 2014 @06:29PM (#47682201)

    "There's a pretty big maturity difference between a grown-ass man and a 10 or 11 year old."

    For many men, not as much as one might hope.

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