Worth Reading 121: Initially only available within the M25

‘Galaxy Quest’: The Oral History – The cast and crew explain how it came to be.
The Higher Sociopathy – “Rather than confront reality, the philosopher of war resorts to reason. If the problem is the mismatch between the terrible grandeur of the means and the pedestrian poverty of the ends, don’t rethink your means, much less the war; simply inflate the ends.”
Education should be about progress, not prostituted as a means to earn more – Alex Andreou on the value of education as a good in itself.
How ‘competitiveness’ became one of the great unquestioned virtues of contemporary culture – On a similar subject, how we now reduce everything to competition.
The Suburbs Will Die: One Man’s Fight to Fix the American Dream – How sprawling American suburbs can’t pay for their own upkeep and are an economic disaster waiting to happen.

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Reality ‘permits’ real war crimes

I wonder how this report came to be created:

Human rights groups played various games to see if any broke humanitarian laws that govern what is a war crime.

The study condemned the games for violating laws by letting players kill civilians, torture captives and wantonly destroy homes and buildings.

It said game makers should work harder to remind players about the real world limits on their actions.

I’m suspecting someone coming into the office on Monday morning after playing on the XBox all weekend, realising they haven’t done the report they were meant to have completed by then and then claiming that the weekend’s activities were actually research.

However, in terms of the complaints, I’m wondering what the ‘real world limits’ are on these actions, and how they differ from what stops a player doing these in a game. Yes, there are conventions and laws against these things, but it’s still down to the conscience of the individual as to whether they commit a war crime. Yes, the game may punish them after the event for what they’ve done – and, according to the report “some games did punish the killing of civilians and reward strategies that tried to limit the damage the conflict” – but it’s surely a question of psychology as much as it as a question of law as to why and how people deviate from the ‘accepted’ behaviour in wartime.