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'Making War for Fun'

September 04, 1986

Your article describing the popularity of survival games depicts enthusiasts motivated by the promise of team competition, stress-reduction, and control over people and things. A close look at the nature of the games, however, forces us to ask ourselves just how harmless they really are.

Because it is based in fantasy, doesn't air-gun combat actually heighten the numbing of participants to the horrifying realities of violence and war? Doesn't it actually enhance the illusion that, in a nuclear world, we can continue to war and survive?

What message do these games convey to our children? That it is fun to hunt down and kill other human beings? That we yearn for and even seek out a pre-nuclear fantasy world that no longer exists?

What message do these games convey to the rest of the world? Do they support a view commonly held by people of other countries that violence is an integral part of American culture?

Are there strong racist overtones implicit in those games, which target Asians as the enemy? Would the games be as readily accepted if they were played primarily by Americans of Asian, African, or Latin American descent?

How many would be willing to participate in this mockery of war if they had actually seen the carnage of war, the spilling of blood of innocent victims?

Rather than passing it off as a harmless pastime, we must see this "sport of the 80s" as a signal that it is time for real action to be taken. While survival games tend to glorify war, continuing to war will lead to global destruction.

Perhaps these war games will serve some useful purpose if they inspire enough of us to wake up to the fact that real war means extinction and that real survival requires a search for far more creative ways of resolving our differences.



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