This will be a somewhat odd article. It's an idea I've had for a long time, and I felt I should do something special for the 123rd post. Hope you enjoy.
It's almost the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, and the death of Osama bin Laden has given many people hope we'll see an end to terrorism one day. Obviously this is terrific news and an important moment of recent history, but his death changes nothing. Al Qaeda still exists and attacks will be more abundant in retaliation.
When I was in grade six, as we were recapping our lesson on long division, the teacher next door burst in and said the towers were hit. Immediately I felt a vomiting sensation and ran to the bathroom. An assembly was called instantaneously and the whole school watched in awe as the second plane hit. We saw the towers fall, people fleeing in mobs to safety, and the beginning of one of the most fearful decades in human history. I had been told about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in a limited fashion, what McVeigh thought he represented, and how some parts of the world recognized the United States as a domineering force. 95% of the students in that gymnasium didn't know the context of the attacks, including me, but I understood the intention. When the name Osama bin Laden was tossed around, the loud whispers of students echoed through the room asking if the person next to them knew who he was. Nobody did.
The events of last Sunday night have a different meaning to different people, but the littlest of us were asking "Who?" Parents everywhere avoided the topic or had to awkwardly present a long and complex history. Being that young, kids, preteens if you will, don't have the attention span to question governments, so obviously they won't care about a tragedy that occurred ten years ago. Therefore, with gaming taking up a majority of the time for these kids, why not take advantage of the situation and teach them about the world?
They see the images of soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and don't realize the seriousness of each situation. They don't understand why the Taliban harboured terrorism; or why Saddam Hussein was executed; or why rebels are marching on the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Gaming can be used, carefully, to help inform the younger audience of the history of each conflict, and why each case is relevant to the very soil they stand on.
Gaming can be used as a constructive tool if applied properly, but there's one thing holding companies back: sensitivity. The tragedy of September 11 is still relevant, and those involved are still living with the effects ten years later. The backlash from Medal of Honor where the Taliban were playable almost got the game banned in the United Kingdom and the military refused sales within its stores. The Taliban's name in the multiplayer mode was eventually changed to the "Opposition Force", making it just another generic first-person shooter. Six Days in Fallujah was another victim of sensitivity; based on the Second Battle of Fallujah back in 2004, the game drew criticism from war veterans and Konami then refused to publish.
It's unavoidable, but if the industry were to take another approach toward current events, video games could become an educational tool. I don't have any suggestions, though; if I was actually paid maybe I could use my incredible genius to think of something, but only do I mindlessly blog for now.