Parent Makes Gamer Son Promise To Obey Geneva Conventions In Video Game

from the parents-and-video-games dept

While we keep hearing politicians and "child safety" activists complaining about violent video games and their supposed impact on kids, many people push back by noting that it should be up to parents to decide how to handle their kids' association with video games -- and some take the issue seriously. A bunch of folks have been submitting the BoingBoing story of a father whose son wanted to play the popular video game Call of Duty. After learning about the game, and recognizing some advantages to the game -- historical realism, the ability to learn teamwork, etc. -- he decided that he would let his son play, on one condition. While playing the game, his son and his "teammates" had to all obey the rules of the Geneva Convention. In other words, he turned it into an educational opportunity as well. The players now need to read up and understand the Geneva Convention rules -- and then engage by them, thus also avoiding some of the more gratuitous violence. So, there's a creative solution that some politicians and activists would like to have taken out of the hands of parents.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    Since there's four Geneva conventions, that's a lot of reading.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    And now they will loose every time they play :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Grammar Nazi, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:33pm


    Loose: not tight

    Lose: not win.

    (you twat)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    SteveD, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Is it even possible to play deathmatch outside the geneva convention?

    As much as I love stories that paint gaming in a positive social context...I can't really see the gain here.

    Having played a few of the Call of Duty series I don't think there is any means by which the games mechanics would allow you to act outside the Convention in the first place.

    I agree with the (supposed) doctor that the guys parenting skills might be better spent convincing his morbidly obese 13 year old to get some exercise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    PaulT (profile), Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    I read this yesterday and I'll honest I'm not sure how it would work. As far as I know, there's not that much opportunity to break the conventions in the CoD games anyway. Even if there is, the parent seems to suggest that his team-mates would have to follow the same rules - pretty much impossible for him to control, especially if said team mates are random idiots on XBox Live.

    On the other hands, it's at least a positive attempt to engage with the kid, while both trying to provide a positive educational aspect to his gaming and guiding the way he interacts with others. Makes a change from "I don't understand it so ban it/let the school handle it".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    Geneva conventions ban regular war acts?

    wouldn't this rule just make it so that the kids couldn't what? torture the enemies or something? no terrible chemical gas use, no biological warfare?

    pretty sure they'd still get to tear up the Germans with their m-1's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    anon 6, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    err no offense by the German thing, you know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 2:55pm can also play GTA4...but you have to obey all state and federal laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re:

    You know it is possible to correct someone's grammar and spelling without being an ass about it, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Clay, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:01pm


    OK, so exactly which convention gets broken during normal play in CoD? They mostly have to do with wounded soldiers, prisoners of war, and civilians. I guess you can't shoot the guy handing his buddy a med kit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    Correct me if I'm wrong, because I haven't played it, but from a trailer video it seemed that you had the option to shoot wounded Germans and prisoners during the Russian campaign. That would be against the Geneva Conventions. Or am I mistaken?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Ryan, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    FMJ vs JHP

    As one example, I believe the Geneva Convention bans hollow points from warfare; I don't recall this discretion in COD, but I know it exists in Rainbox Six. Perhaps others of the like? The parent will have to find some way to enforce it...I can just see the kid trying to explain to his LAN party why his dad is hovering behind their screens while intently studying the Geneva Convention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re:

    "not win" ???

    For a Grammar Nazi, you really are a moron.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    GHynson, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:19pm


    That's dumb,..considering that there's no wounded anyway it FPS, or camping, or hiding behind cover, or realistic wounds, or enemy surrendering.
    If you want realisim,. make a game where you have to tend to wounded, which happens to most soldiers IRL.
    Plus weapons and physics. I launched rockets at people hiding behind walls in COD and they don't die, I guess they dont make walls like that IRL.
    Realism is when you go down, wounded and bleeding to death when getting capped in the legg from an MG-42 round,..None of this BS running around at 42% health after taking a rocket to the face.
    But then, one would buy the game then,..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    opit, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Geneva Conventions

    Upholding the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions were two basics of military training and culture. Once the draft dodgers under AWoL took over - not so much.
    You want more realism ? No fun at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    chris (profile), Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:54pm

    interesting interpretations of the geneva conventions

    my favorite: you can't engage personnel with .50 caliber machine guns. you can only use .50's on equipment according to the convention.

    thankfully, helmets count as equipment.

    my other favorite: you can't deliberately cause unnecessary pain and suffering. so your kills must be "clean", dispatching the enemy as quickly and painlessly as possible.

    since most soldiers wear flak vests or body armor, aiming for the torso can mean that a direct hit will take hours for an enemy combatant to bleed out, or days to succumb to sepsis. this is especially true when using full metal jacketed or standard light armor piercing rounds. SLAP and some FMJ rounds can pass straight through the target rather than mushrooming inside the body the way that hollow points do.

    therefore, the only humane place to shoot someone is in and unprotected area that will result in a fatality, i.e. the face.

    the other translation of that requirement is the "double tap" or hitting the same target twice, as close to the same spot as possible in hopes of hitting a weak or compromised area of body armor. the idea being that hydrostatic shock will put the enemy combatant down quickly.

    in close quarters, both translations are applied: i.e. two in the chest and one in the head. two in the [presumably armored] torso to halt forward advancement and buy time to line up the kill shot to the head.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Jon, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    it could be worse

    The father could have made him play as if he were a UN soldier. Then the soldier wouldn't be allowed to fire unless fired upon first that would really make the game difficult - if not impossible at some point. Although it might be funny to run around with that little blue helmet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    kantill, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 4:13pm

    I disagree

    I disagree on many levels; one the most important is a person that didn't jump on the "think of the children" bandwagon and challenges his child to learn something while he is having fun. Two it the gives the game makers a chance to show that their games are not as bad as real life and room to add more aspects to their games. As for the GTA series comment besides to loads of fun bowling in the game it never tells a player to kill a hooker or a lot of the crap it get in trouble for, if it was a game just about stealing cars it wouldn't get so much crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Steven, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Huh?

    You should try Urban Terror. It's about as real as I've seen. If you get shot in the legs you start limping. You have to bandage yourself after being shot or you bleed to death. Head and body shots hurt more than arm and leg shots.

    You have a number of magazines and rounds per mag. When you reload you don't just refill your current and decrease your total, you drop whats left in your current mag and pop in a new one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Mike, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    So how often does THAT happen?

    So you are raving about the 1 in 50,000,000 parent who would do that? Or how about the 1 in 100,000 Americans who actually know what the Geneva convention is? And out of those, how many actually abide by it-judging by Guantanamo Bay, not many.
    So give me a break, please. 90% of parents will be saying "Call of What?" and "Turn that damn thing down! I can't here my episode of Survivor and drink my beer in peace!"
    There should be an exam to be a parent and until thee is, the government SHOULD force good parenting on people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Slackr, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 4:39pm

    A little too far

    I applaud the dad's efforts to engage his son and extend him past mindlessly consuming entertainment without recognising the content, particularly as his father's area of work has a historical bent. What's more there is clearly open communication and an intelligent teen who anticipated his father's objections and put forward his case.

    My only comment is that it is a little harsh to extend something from the real world into a virtual one thus tainting the purpose of the game - entertainment. There's a reason why the gap between education and gaming is so large, most of the times the games aren't fun. Most of that is because the education part is being rammed down throats rather than being a by-product of engaging content.

    As someone who has played countless hours of killing pixels that kid already knows more about the Geneva Convention than me. I think it would have been better to pose the following scenario to the kid: "having read the Geneva Convention and talked about it, I (dad) think you should play Call of Duty by adhering to the GC, I want you to think about it and come back to me with your decision and why or why not you will play like that".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 5:05pm

    It is just a new challenge

    Following the Geneva convention should be a game option. Violations counting against score and of course requisite jail time/executions apportioned out at the end of the campaign.

    I can't see many choosing this option but it could be fun to try.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    NET625, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 8:59pm

    Re: It is just a new challenge

    I like that idea. And I support the fathers actions. Also if you had to follow the state and federal laws in GTA4 then wouldn't it be like PS Home, with the option to disobey the law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Tamara, Feb 23rd, 2009 @ 9:56pm

    He makes his son do that, yet a lot of western countries mainly the US and Australia and to a lesser extent the UK aren't exactly known for sticking by the Geneva Convention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Peter Thomas, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 12:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Um, "not win" is surely a concise and accurate description of "lose"?

    And he was correcting spelling, not grammar. So you lose. Or "loose", if you prefer...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Huh?

    Shouldn't a head shot kinda take you out? i know you can survive a head shot, but generally speaking, very rarely can you walk away from one and then put a bandage on it. If you wanna go for realism *that* far, at least don't ruin it with head shots that don't take you out. If that makes the game too difficult, just minimize the probability of a head shot during a game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Xiera, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    So many of commenters are missing the point:

    It's not about whether the kid actually uses anything he learned about the Geneva Convention in-game; it's about actually learning about the Geneva Convention and possibly stimulating the kid to learn more about related subjects.

    And, of course, the relevance to Techdirt is that this parent recognises that this technology is a form of entertainment, and rather than fearing it, he's turning it into a chance to educate his kid and take a more active role in the kid's life.

    For those of us who believe in personal responsibility (especially with parenting) instead of government mandates, this parent is a prodigy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re:

    Dear Grammar Nazi,

    I would like to extend an offer to visit my magnificent home in Stalingrad. I'm sure you would be well appreciated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Geneva Convention in gaming

    So the problem is solved for ONE gamer, and therefore there is no problem?
    Talk about PEGGING! That is the sort of reasoning that may make governmental intervention necessary, though I sincerely hope not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    MattP, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Geneva Convention in gaming

    I only need to solve the problem for ONE gamer. My son (2 atm) will only play games that I approve beforehand. If I can incorporate learning into that experience I will. The whole 'it takes a village' mindset is hogwash.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Hugh Spencer, Feb 25th, 2009 @ 6:46pm

    Geneva Convention in gaming

    As the father in question, I thank everyone for their comments. For the record, Evan is not morbidly obese. He likes to wear his older brother's baggy clothes sometimes. He also likes to skate, play tennis and go on long cycling adventures with his buddies. If you're in Toronto and the weather's good we'd be happy to take you around on a exploratory trip along the lakeshore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    ollie bull, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 3:00am

    just for fun

    i'm oliver and i love to dance and i'm jus wanting to say hi

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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