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minmax
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Yesterday afternoon during a break between classes a student was asking me about my favorite game. Tac Ops was it and when I explained the game she became upset that anyone would play a game that simulated warfare. She wondered about the morality of planning and carrying out a simulated battle that caused the deaths of hundreds or even thousands of combatants. I gave her my explanation but it made me curious as to the viewpoints of other Tac Ops gamers concerning this issue. Personally, I don't see a moral issue in simulated wargames but, the students interest made me curious.

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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I've said this before, and I'll say it again: wargaming is the only thing in life that's better than the real thing. I can't say this from experience, but I know I won't get killed if I lose a game of TacOps.

She's got a problem with people who simulate killing? What if we were training to kill Nazis/Soviets/Borg? (to all you Star Trek fans out there . . .)

Peace,

MCab

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People as naive as that student you talked to scare me.

Are violent movies and murder mysteries immoral, in her mind, too? They simulate people being killed.

I wonder how she would feel about killing in general if she grew up some place less sheltered. Everyone has the right to self defense.

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Heck, on the computer you have the right to a bloodthirsty offensive. Seriously though, I can't see the problem. It's not as if you actually enjoy killing people. ...Right? wink.gifNext time tell her your favorite game is Peaceful Pony Kingdom, or something.

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To answer all of you, I agree she is a bit on the silly sensitive side.

I find with a number of High School age kids they have the luxury of silly idealism that has not been tested by life.

I did remind her that training is vital for a strong military to protect people like her from people like Saddam Hussein. She refused to see the logic in that which convinces me she has a rude awakening coming when she hits the world.

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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Agree with all the above. This gal needs horse-whipped.

I recommend she take some history courses to discover what life is all about. As TJ Jackson reminded us: "A man's entire duty is to pray and fight."

I infer from her idiotic comment that she considers real war to be immoral too?

If I were you, I'd ignore her completely. Unless she's good-looking. Then I'd try to convince her that I'm a pacifist.

By the way, what is HER favorite game?

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Well,

First as a High School teacher (married at that) I can't and won't.

Second, her favorite game she claims is Mario Kart.

Third, she is a good kid grade and behavior wise just an idiot life experience wise. I guess I was to until the Sandinistas introduced me to the effective rate and range of a PKM. Anyway, I think life after high school will do an adequate job of horse whipping her and her generation.

smile.gif

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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In contrast to everyone else who has replied to this question, I think the student asked a legitimate question. To reply that she needs to be horsewhipped and other such comments merely indicates that some may fail to understand how learning takes place.

As to whether or not it is moral to play the game, I would say that, of course, it is perfectly moral to playe whatever game you like, so long as it does not hurt you or other players. It is played for fun and a wargame is no less fun than is, say high school football, and it has much less chance of hurting anyone. As a game, TacOps has much less inherent violence displayed than Quake, DukeNukem, and many other much more explicit games.

Second, since you appear to be a Marine reservist or a part time teacher, another part of your answer would concern that your other job is to lead men into battle. TacOps in some way can help you do that and be a better soldier. If you are a better soldier, than fewer of your men (who may be her, her friends, brothers, and one day children) will die in the course of fighting and winning the nation's wars.

Third, if you study history, then wargaming in general, and by carefully setting up scenarios, TacOps in particular, can help you gain a better understanding of historical events - a study which is more interactive than reading and merely looking at a map and can provide an insite to how a leader thinks and acts as well as a better understanding of the weapons systems of the period under study.

Fourth, you missed the opportunity to talk about the morality of war in general. Is war moral? Perhaps or perhaps not; there is a whole series of just war discussions that can be engaged in, more than I can even begin to go into here. While moral may be immoral and irrational (a rational army would RUN AWAY) you can then discuss whether it is morale to stand on the street corner and watch someone be robbed or killed.

Finally, you could bring up the role of many other games in study and personnel development. The Sims would be a good game for a family development course. Rollar Coaster Tycoon would give insite into running a corporation, just as SimCity would give some insite into city management. Flight simulators help train pilots. There are many other examples.

High school kids are supposed to be idealistic. Maybe the world would be a better place if more people were idealistic. I worry that you as a teacher consider her "an idiot kid otherwise." This girl does not need to be horsewhipped, ridiculed, or made fun of. She asked a legitimate question, that deserved a serious answer. The game in no more or less moral than violent movies, games, or any other form of recreation. It has positive virtues just as do many other things.

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Wow! Where to begin.

I was on active duty but decided to get out when I got married. I do wish I had TacOps as a means to test a theory before people got shot at.

As far as the morality of war she was part of a class discussion about the Cold War in which I allowed students to express their opinions. She did take offense when other students attacked her thesis that all war was immoral. As the teacher I stayed neutral but other students did an eloquent job of explaining when war is moral.

Please understand teachers in general deal with a great deal of frustration when it comes to dealing with teen aged kids. Please don't take my flippant comment on this board to mean I dislike or would talk to a kid that way. I am very tough on my kids in class but they over time realize I am hard on them because I care. Students don't respect teachers who try the sugarcoated approach. So I vent my frustrations other places by calling them idealistic. In a number of ways I feel bad for naive kids b/c life is going to really put them through the wringer when they leave home.

When she asked me the question about the morality of TacOps and other war sims I was reasonable but also honest. I took the approach of what people feel is moral depends on individual experience and education. As a combat veteran I think in some cases violence is moral and effective. While in a classroom it has no place. She like many inexperienced kids only sees her point of view. Trust me, if I did not like kids then I would NOT be in education. The pay and the BS make teaching a job that people do because they care about kids. High School kids can sense someone who doen't like them and the kids make life a living hell. I may make light of the inexperience and silly things kids say but rest assured I would not knowingly damage a kid's self esteem.

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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I agree and often take time to warn my high school students about the professors (I add Social Science) that take pleasure in ripping a student to shreds.

I don't think we should sugarcoat the whole world for High School aged kids. Some people think they are minaturized adults with zits. Reality is some are mature many are not. Each kid deserves respect and the truth.

This young lady in particular calls me her "favorite teacher" which is interesting b/c I treat her like all other students. Anyway, self esteem for a teen is very important. I don't have any respect for teachers that are cruel. However, I don't respect teachers who want to coddle kids either. I think you should let kids know where the boundaries and expectations are. When they exceed boundaries you dole out an appropriate consequence (in my class its usually push ups). When students exceed expectations (which should not be dumbed down) you reward them with verbal praise. I learned that as a leader in the Corps and it has worked great so far.

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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A friend teaches first year science at a good university. He suggests that high schools should wean students from the need to be taught and prepare them to learn.

He finds that students have received too much ego stroking to the detriment of any understanding of the extent of their abilities.

At university, one has to deal with the cold equations that have no respect for one's inner worth.

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Being a highschool student, I'd thought it might be worth it to share my view on the subject, or at least what it has become.

The best teacher by far in my school is a Bronze and Silver star awarded Marine vet who served in Vietnam. The man has received numerous teaching awards, many on the national level. He is always crtical of what we do, and always demands more, usually through derrogatory remark, but he always gets it. In many ways he acts much more like a peer than a teacher, which makes him better than any other teacher, at least in my eyes. Just my two cents

-Jackson

BTW He coaches our track team and hasn't had a loss in 29 years (He really gets everything outa you)

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> A friend teaches first year science at a good university. He

> suggests that high schools should wean students from the

> need to be taught and prepare them to learn.

What is his distinction between being taught and learning?

Frankly, I have always been a bit surprised that more college profs don't periodically get the crap beaten out of them for cheating their students (or their parents) out of the cost of attending their class. I went back to school for a couple of years after getting out of the Marine Corps and there were several that I would have enjoyed bumping into on a lonely street smile.gif.

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Best regards, Major H

majorh@mac.com

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As a High School teacher I can assure College Professors that I at least am not coddling High School Kids.

To be honest I think most College types teach only b/c they have to they would rather write articles, books, or do research. I also think they are over paid for the amount of work they do. While this is a very general statement I am basing it on observations of numerous professors at numerous colleges.

Besides most High School teachers get paid squat. And keep in mind you get what you pay for.

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M. L. Johnson

TAOC DAWG

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Excellent point. . .being an instructor at Fort Knox, we use TACOPS extensively to train junior captains to command tank companies in combat. It is far better to learn lessons and see cause and effect from their decisions here in a simulation than it is to learn them on the battlefield.

THOMAS ROOT

Major, United States Army

Small Group Instructor

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  • 3 weeks later...

With respect, I'd suggest that wargaming can raise moral issues. Any form of entertainment that in some way mirrors or depicts acts which in "real life" are generally frowned upon or considered morally or legally "wrong" (e.g., killing and destruction) should give one pause for thought, regardless of the conclusions at which one arrives. When games or entertainments depict actual conflicts, like WWII or Vietnam, instead of hypothetical ones, there's the added question of whether one can or should justify finding amusement in the simulation of events that resulted in the suffering or death of actual individuals.

There's also a substantial argument to made that thought and action are inextricably intertwined, and focusing on warfare, in this case through gaming, can color one's views and influence one's actions. Why fill, the argument goes, the thoughts and senses with one of man's arguably basest endeavours, warfare?

I'd submit that there's nothing wrong with a young person (or anyone) finding violence abhorrent on any level, as unpractical as such a view might be in our notoriously practical world. Many of the world's great philosophers and religious founders and leaders have condemned violence, so a high school student doing so--even if in a perhaps naive way--would at least be in good company.

Best.

[This message has been edited by Gremlin (edited 02-05-2001).]

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As a wargamer I quite often think about what I am actually simulating. When a platoon of tanks disappears before my very eyes I am concious of the fact that I just got 16 people wasted because of my latest bad decision. Almost as bad is when I must sacrifice a few to save many. The burden of command must be very heavy in war. I think wargamers have a better understanding of just how terrible war is than the general public.

My favorite teacher in HS was a Battle of the Bulge veteran. He was a very tough teacher. You followed the rules and behaved out of fear. I soaked up a lot of geometry in the highly disciplined environment. The surprising thing was that most of the kids liked him.

Once every six weeks or so he would announce that he didn't want to do math today. He would ask the class what they would like to discuss. Invariably, the guys would want to know about WWII (the girls were happy just not to have to do math). He was always hesitant to discuss the war but after sufficient poking and prodding we could always get him to tell us an anecdote or two from his experience. I'll never forget them because he wasn't the kind of guy to embellish or exaggerate IMO. We were hearing the truth from a front line infantryman at the Bulge. I wish I had the time to relate one of his stories. Perhaps I will later. He was the ONLY survivor in his platoon at the Battle of the Bulge. According to him, "It just wasn't my time to go."

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Agree with her, but remind her that it is a sad reality of life. As long as Mankind is, there will be wars. There is no Utopia. Wargaming is a tool to save lives (yours)as well as take them. Tell her chess is a wargame, should people stop playing that?

Ask her to think about the major wars in history and what life would be like now if they weren't fought, if everybody rolled over and looked the other way. How many Races and Nationalities would be extinct by this time.

How many people would be exterminated for their religious beliefs.

Would the country she lives in now actually exist as she knows it, or could it be worse or better.

brad

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As a former US Marine(89-95) and Gulf War Vet., I think this student has a lot to learn about the world. War games have been around for many years and are a valuable tool for both military and civilian alike. Maybe it's a stretch but I do not think anyone really like war, but like death and taxes is a way of life on this planet. This young person needs to wake up and realize that if not for war she would be wanting for freedom and peace. It is tragic that people like this student exist in blissful ignorance like this but what can we do? Perhaps someone should tell her of the sacrifices many made so she could be so free spirited and "educated" maybe some small amount of reality will set in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think the student was way off. To many other people, wargaming looks like a glorification of war. To me, I find the games to be amazing and fun.

They do save lives, and for me, it's the closest I could ever get to the military. I had a discussion with my fiance the other night about this topic.

Basically what it comes down to is this. There is no way, in real life, I could make the kinds of decisions needed to win wars or even small engagements. However, on the computer I can experiment, and see what "would have" happened if I had been in that situation.

The one lesson I learn every time I fire up a wargame is this: I really respect and admire those people who can make the kinds of decisions needed for "their country" in very stressful, time encapsulated, situations.

Keith

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Originally posted by MajorH:

What is his distinction between being taught and learning?

I can't speak for the gentleman referred to above, but as a former lecturer I always felt there was a distinction.

The former is someone who tries to take a passive role in the learning process, the latter someone who takes an active role.

I don't think I need to explain why initiative and critical thinking tends to produce better eductional outcomes. Not to mention making a lecturer's job easier. smile.gif

I don't think being boring is a virtue, but I did sometimes wish I didn't need to put so much effort into being entertaining.

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