Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Review

The Boys at the Back, by Christina Hoff Sommers

"A few decades ago, when we realized that girls languished behind boys in math and science, we mounted a concerted effort to give them more support, with significant success. Shouldn’t we do the same for boys?"

War Games, by Nana Asfour

"My stepson's battle was virtual.  But the one I experienced was real."


  1. The latter article confuses me. CoD4: Modern Warfare was released in 2007 when her stepson was twelve. Given the expense of games I somehow doubt he bought it for himself. But putting that aside it seems the author seems to really be projecting her own experiences onto her stepson.

    He can differentiate between videogames and reality but it would seem she, as a mature adult, cannot.

    I've not been in the armed forces but I was a cadet (mandatory at my school back in the early 2000s). Carrying and firing a rifle in reality is as far from playing a videogame about it as savouring the flavours of a home cooked meal is from reading a list of ingredients.

    What she touches on but doesn't seem to concern herself with is the glamorisation of violence and war. That's not just a videogame thing though, it saturates western culture.

    Her response about sniping in a game and relating it in reality seems absurd to me. Instead of sharing her harrowing experiences in a meaningful way she framed them in such a way as to seem neurotic and over-sensitive. He's a teenaged boy. It's going to be a few years before he can appreciate the horrors of war and the fragile nature of human life. Even if he wasn't playing videogames he'd be at the stage of thinking himself invincible, it's part of being a teenager!

    I feel I should feel sorry for her but it seems that her stepson is doing perfectly fine. I worry about how her reaction will encourage others to further assume some sort of strong connection between play violence and poor mental health.

    Things like this really do not help one bit:
    "The rush that players get from playing war video games is alarming for someone who recalls all too clearly the crazed look on the young militiamen’s faces..."

    The rush? Really?

    Better start worrying about people playing team sports too - all that aggression, shouting, running and so forth can't be good for them.

    Ugh, my apologies if I am labouring the point, I'm just getting so tired of seeing these stupid opinion pieces that make it much harder to have a level-headed discussion of changes in western culture and our attitudes towards mental health.

    In closing I'd like to say:

    When an environment has been built where people do not feel safe letting their children out to play is it any wonder they get together to play in virtual worlds where they are safe?

  2. Hi Flamekebab,

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I posted this article because I think it's an interesting one, for many of the reasons you cite.
    It seems to conclude in a different place than it begins, and the writer, to me, is exploring her own response to a game versus, or as well as, what it means to her stepson.
    (I can related to this!)
    I think as C gets older, I am examining perception: mine, hers, and the space between understanding what I see her doing/acting and what it actually "means".