Wednesday, May 27, 2009

from war games to peace games

One of our recent visitors was Steve Jacobs, who arrived at our house wearing a t-shirt with the question: “Who would Jesus bomb?”

Steve is one of the founders of St Francis House of Hospitality in Columbia, Missouri. He had come to this side of the Atlantic to take part in the annual European Catholic Worker gathering.

One of the things we talked about is a possible response to an annual military welcome-house at a Missouri army base. The event features a big tent in which kids are invited to play computer war games. It’s very popular.

An idea that emerged in our conversation is the possibility of setting up a peace games tent outside the base where, using borrowed laptop computers, kids (and parents) could play peace games.

Even if no peace game sells nearly as well as various war games, I was pleased to find that there are a lot of peace games out there. Searching this string

computer games peacemaking

pulls up a great many hits.

Steve says there is not enough lead time this year to set up a peace games tent. Even so, it maybe that a folder could be produced that focuses on the issues raised by the war games tent.

I got to thinking about the creation of a hand-out. Possible headline:

Not all computer games are about killing people.”

A draft opening to the text:

“Today our kids are being invited by the military to play war games – games that make killing people seem like a fun thing to do. The truth is every act of killing is a tragedy, not only for victims and their families, but for all the soldiers who come home burdened with memories of killing real people. In many cases the hidden scars left by war never heal. That’s a big part of the reason why so many returning soldiers can’t hold down jobs, keep their families together, become homeless, turn to drugs, and even take their own lives.

“Do we want war look like a game to our kids?

“Did you know that there are computer games that challenge kids – and their parents – to learn the skills of peacemaking?....”

Something on those lines. Steve is a musician and song writer. If he takes this on, he’ll do a great job of it.

On this theme, Alex Patico wrote me yesterday:

>> Someone actually has devised a computer game called Peacemaker which focuses on Israel/Palestine. I had actually thought of trying to interest him in collaborating on one that would treat the US-Iran relationship in the same fashion. This was Eric Brown (graduate of Washington University and Carnegie-Mellon), who co-founded ImpactGames. He did his game in conjunction with Arun Gandhi of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence. <<


Note: That glass of Tongerlo beer in Steve’s hand was brewed at Tongerlo Abbey not far from Antwerp. On YouTube there's a clip of Steve singing one of his songs:

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