There was a time when I played with toy guns, my brother and other kids in the neighborhood played with a toy gun of one sort or another, too, and we played war games. The guns didn’t look real and in every way were toys. We tried to outwit each other, hiding behind trees, boulders, or berms, pretending to shoot each other. We fantasized neither blood nor carnage; it was when films depicted those being shot simply to fall to the ground. I suppose kids for eons have played games with some sort of toy weaponry.
Today that simple play has evolved into Airsoft war games. In these games, participants use soft-pellet replica weaponry that shoot small plastic pellets in combat simulated situations. Airsoft war simulations are used in military training to teach soldiers how to kill, and modified for law enforcement training purposes.
War games are an affront to those who work toward ending violence and advancing world peace. These forms of entertainment not only advocate and condone but also enable violent behavior. To promote virtual reality video or systems that are used by the military to train a soldier to kill should not be available to children.
On November 2, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association regarding a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors. During the proceedings, Chief Justice John Roberts read from court records, “We do not have a tradition in this country of telling children they should watch people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they’ll beg for mercy, being merciless and decapitating them, shooting them in the leg so they fall down…. Pour gasoline on them, set them on fire and urinate on them.” He concluded: “We protect children from that. We don’t actively expose them to that.”
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, author of “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” and ” Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill ,” points out that those who play violent war games are conditioned to acts of violence. They become increasingly capable of violence because conditioning reduces their natural barriers to it.
To the belief that violence is not a result of nurture but of nature, it is both. Violence was at one time necessary to human evolution, so there is a hereditary component, but there are also factors that enhance propensity toward violent acts. For a child who is continually conditioned through repeatedly killing lifelike images in video war games, or simulate killing in Airsoft war games, he or she increasingly inculcates acceptability and an ability to kill.
We have evolved from the children’s’ play of my childhood to militaristic virtual reality video and outdoor play used to train soldiers to kill. That’s cultural degression; it’s not the direction our country, or the world, should be heading. Instead, we should be taking every opportunity to marginalize violence, eliminate war, and work toward world peace.
AirSoftForum.com, Airsoft MILSIM and Airsoft Discussion Board
Windrunner, Ultimate Wargames Airsoft Tribute, YouTube Video
Associated Press, Court hears arguments on violent video games, Google Hosted News
Killology Research Group, Biography: Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman
Anton Chaitkin, To make teens killers, you have to crush human nature, The American Almanac
Marisa Mauro, Psy.D, At-Risk Children and Teens: Nature vs. Nurture, Psychology Today March 31, 2009
Wikipedia, René Girard