The Globe and Mail reports on an interesting parenting choice made for a 13-year-old boy. Evan wanted to play Call of Duty, but his parents were hesitant. While some conscientious parents would disallow violent video games, Evan’s parents agreed to allow the game, under one condition – he has to follow the Geneva Convention while he plays.
This means Evan is not allowed to kill enemies who have already surrendered or are incapacitated. While other kids simply shoot through any enemy soldier standing in their way, Evan must instead evaluate the situation and follow the rules of warfare.
I think this was a brilliant way to handle the situation. While I’m not convinced that violent video games are the root of all evil (as certain conservative news networks would have you believe), I do tend to criticize them for being more-or-less mindless. The FPS genre in particular seems to me to have an overarching theme of “shoot everything that moves,” and as such, I have very little patience for most shooting games. By placing this restriction upon his son’s in-game actions, Evan’s father has not only made Evan remain aware of the moral implications of war, he has actually made the game more realistic. After all, real soldiers must obviously face consequences for violating the Geneva Conventions.
In fact, I would probably enjoy a game like Call of Duty more if humanitarian rules were programmed in – it could provide an interesting challenge, and more accurately depict the moral decisions that are actually made on a battlefield. But maybe that’s just me.