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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 @01:46PM (#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 WinterSolstice (223271) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:49PM (#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 Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:03PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:35PM (#47679887)

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

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:41PM (#47679955)

          Who plays an FPS because they wanted to go to war, but didn't like travel?

          Lindsey Graham? Bill Kristol? Dick Cheyney?

        • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:48PM (#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.

          • by epyT-R (613989) on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:21PM (#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.

        • The correlation between military FPS and real war is mindshare/recruiting. Why do you deceive yourself? For fun? You love CoD so much you can't see the downside? I don't get it.

        • One on of my favourite games is Carmageddon. I do not drive, do not own a car, have no driver's license. I do enjoy driving a virtual car and mowing down old ladies, cops and various other pedestrians and cows. Should I get a driver's license and buy (or rent) a car to find out what real life driving is actually like? This guy is a tool.
      • by HBI (604924) <kparadine AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:44PM (#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.

        • Are they realistic to war? Of course not. But then, I haven't seen any games that are realistic to anything. Their point is to be fun, not realistic.

          You seem to be fairly typical for the military types I know (which is more than a couple) in that they quite enjoy the make believe of FPS games, despite having experienced the reality of combat.

          While not quite as extreme, I can point to myself and enjoying computer/hacker games like Introversion's Uplink. I'm a network and systems administrator professionally.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          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.

          I think the FPS BS is that "war is cool" and "fighting is awesome" - the over-glorification of war. Whereas well, REAL wars aren't fun. They're tragic wastes of human life and put real toll on people (soldiers and civilians alike). And for most wars, done because some person wanted so

      • by Dorianny (1847922)
        Next time my kids ask for food, I will take them to South Sudan to witness starvation instead. I am sure that will cure them of hunger!
    • by Seumas (6865) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:55PM (#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 Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:05PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zalbik (308903)

          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 wit

      • by Krishnoid (984597)

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

        Overreaction, indeed. If they were US citizens, I'd like to see them testify and hear what they have to say the next time Congress wants to weigh in on violence in video games.

      • by pitchpipe (708843) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:16PM (#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 ToasterMonkey (467067) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:48PM (#47680053) Homepage

          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.

          Much more practical: send elected representatives on those trips.

          Shut down the congressional cafeterias for a few months out of the year to pay for it, or IDK, tell them there's free hookers and blow in Libya.

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            Much more practical: send elected representatives on those trips.

            Elected representatives are already visiting Israel.
            Destination by Country: Israel [legistorm.com]

            The trips are almost exclusively paid for by Israeli interest/lobbying groups,
            so you can imagine that the agenda isn't the most neutral or nuanced.

        • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:08PM (#47680285) Homepage

          I think that every American should have to take a trip to the war zone

          The last time they tried that was in the late 60s. It didn't go so well.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        This seems to be the most insightful thing I've read the whole day today.

    • You are the worst parent in the world for letting your kids see what real life is! They're CHILDREN! They don't need to be ADULTS until they're 35! Tell them SANTA IS REAL!
    • by Noishkel (3464121)
      So what you're saying here is that it's all well and good to 'teach your kids a lesson' by dropping them into a war zone and exposing them to potential harm. Be it from a stray rocket, random explosion, or imagery that may give them a LIFE TIME OF PTSD... all because some guy got all bhutt hurt that his kids like Call of Duty?
  • Wow (Score:3, Informative)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:47PM (#47679361) Homepage

    Uhhm, OK, uhhh...I'm sorry, why is this on Slashdot?

    • Re: Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by maliqua (1316471)

      Uhhm, OK, uhhh...I'm sorry, why is this on Slashdot? again

      Just fixing that for you

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:48PM (#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 jargonburn (1950578) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:51PM (#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.
    • Think of the fact that something like this might give them PTSD. Dealing with a war zone can be traumatic for adults with training, experience, and perspective. It can be far worse for children.

      Also it does rather seem to be an unnecessary risk. While childhood has risks to be sure, part of your duty as a guardian is to minimize those risks as feasible. You weigh risks vs rewards, and try to find safe options when possible.

      So maybe taking kids to a war zone is not the best idea. Maybe a better idea is to ta

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:52PM (#47679431) Homepage
    "And when they came back home, they would be free to play whatever games they chose."
    That opens up so many possibilities...
  • Tetris (Score:5, Funny)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:52PM (#47679435) Homepage

    "Kids get in the car. We're goin' to the box factory!"

  • FTFY (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roninmagus (721889) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:54PM (#47679453)
    "A Swedish father has come under fire for interacting with the real world."
  • Perhaps a self-referential one: "My dad took me to a war zone and all I got was this stolen T-Shirt?"
  • by mrbcs (737902) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:55PM (#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.

    • I remember asking mom about wars and things like that at around age 5 or 6. While she probably didn't go into every detail, she tried to explain those topics to me and didn't tell me that kids shouldn't think about such things. If you have smart, resilient kids I see no good reason for all the coddling and shielding.
    • by tippe (1136385) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:28PM (#47679809)

      Not sure if the one you watched was "WWII in Colour" (by the History channel) on Netflix or not, but I watched that one and it was absolutely amazing, both in terms of its content, as well as the video production. Some of the film clips were still of poor quality even after restoration, (IIRC, a lot of clips they would have gotten from Russian archives were really bad), but in general the quality was phenomenal, all things concerned. You can also watch it for free online [ovguide.com], apparently. Definitely worth your time, and I also plan on (re) watching this with my kids when they get a little older, too.

  • I would just teach my children the difference between reality and fiction. This might be a useful lesson for the dad as well.

    • by reikae (80981)

      Isn't that just what this dad is doing? You just stated the same goal without telling how you would do it.

      • What the dad is doing is trying to influence his kid's decision to engage with a fictional version of war by taking them to an actual war. What I meant is that the experience of the reality of war has nothing to do with the experience of playing a war video game, because one is an experience of something fictional and the other isn't. It's the difference between having sex and looking at porn, between watching the food network and eating, between watching CSI and being murdered. When you watch CSI, you know

    • by MitchDev (2526834)

      Would make more sense than taking your kids into harms way to teach them the same lesson...

  • by Yakasha (42321) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:05PM (#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.

  • For some reason, what goes through my head, is that on return they'd want to write a war simulator from the civilian perspective.

  • by ADRA (37398) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:14PM (#47679647)

    But I took an arrow to the knee.

  • What would the dad have done if this were around eight years ago and his kids wanted to play Persona 3? Live demonstration of how shooting yourself in the head with a handgun doesn't cause physical manifestations of Jungian psychology to come out and fight demons and/or date unrealistic Japanese girls for you?

  • by gwstuff (2067112) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:16PM (#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 Jiro (131519)

      By that reasoning ithe subject of the game doesn't have to be war. If the kids play Fruit Ninja the dad should take them to a poverty-striken third world country that is having a food shortage, so they no longer want to trivialize the act of destroying food. As you said, starvation is something that Westerners are normally shielded from. "You're teaching people that life cannot be compared to the boom and splat of video games".

      Yet it would be obviously ludicrous to do that.

  • Call of Duty is nothing like actual war. instead, you should make the kids go camping for 3 days with nothing but ritz crackers, peanut butter and beef jerky. at the end, when they want to come home, phone them and let them know they did a great job so they get to camp for 3 more days. Occasionally drop off toilet paper and a roll of smartys, tell them its good for their morale. At the end of this 3 days, insist they stay 3 more days but this time leave a gas generator running next to the tent. If this
    • Not to mention in an actual war you occasionally run into insane people. Like me. I have some weird form of sociopathy that prevents me from meshing with people and forming cohesive social groups; I'd tend to turn violently on anyone who commits moral atrocities, and protect anyone who appears weak and harmless. You just can't do that in America.
  • by andrewa (18630) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:46PM (#47680019)
    "Here Junior, stop watchin' that porn and step over here to watch your mum and i having sex... that's what it's really like..."
  • I sat down with my 12 yo gamer son and watched the movie 'Hamburger Hill'. That took a lot of the glamour out of FPS games.

    Next time, I'll try with 'Platoon'.

  • My oldest has just gotten into Mario Kart 8. Should I strap him into the car, drive it down the highway at insane speeds, and have him toss objects out of the windows at other cars? Maybe I'm doing parenting wrong.

  • Differences (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858)

    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

    • by Yakasha (42321)

      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.

      That is a human problem, not an American problem. Everybody on this planet is sure their way of life is the correct way. That is why everybody laughs at the fat, dumb, lazy, violent, American kids. Because they have different priorities.

  • My dad did that, but for fairly different reasons. His friends convinced him that their area of Yugoslavia was pretty unimpacted by fighting, so we visited. It was honestly one of the more interesting vacations I've taken; the entire country was completely economically devistated. Fortunately I don't think any of the involved governments (we're American) ever found out about that somewhat irresponsible vacation.
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:59PM (#47680203) Journal

    My kid is playing Rocksmith an hour a night, and using *my* guitar to do it.

    I'm going to threaten to take her to a rock concert. That'll teach her the difference between playing the guitar and people playing a guitar on stage.

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:29PM (#47680501)

    Soon after returning from Syria, one of the boys didn't want to go to school because he had a sniffle and a mild fever. So next month the family is packing up again for another trip - this time to West Africa to visit with families affected by the Ebola outbreak. While they're there, with any luck, they will be able to stumble upon a village completely wiped out by the virus. While some have labeled the plan ill timed and the motivations just plain sick, the father hopes that the children will come to appreciate their health if they can interview a dying infectee with blood spewing from every orifice.

    Meanwhile, the boys have withdrawn their requests to go see the new Hunger Games movie, and no longer complain about being hot, cold, bored, or anything else.

  • by rainer_d (115765) on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:42PM (#47680627) Homepage
    It's just that the humanitarian situation in Palestine is actually very bad - much worse than the daily 30s news-clip can transport, if I can trust a recent eye-witness report I read in a local paper.

    So, it may be a bit too much for the kids, actually (as someone already suggested).
    But still, it's a good idea. In these war-zones, "Game Over" really is more than two words.

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