Kids and War

My daughter Emily heard about the budget battles in congress on the news and the ensuing government shutdown.  “Why do the republicans want to shut down the government?”, she asked.

“Well, I think they are worried that the national debt is getting too high.” I answered.

“Oh, is that like in Supremacy?”, she asked.

“Yes”, I answered “Exactly.”

“What is our debt?”, she asked.

“I think it’s around $16-17 TL.”, I answered.

“Oh my,” responded Emily, “That’s high.  We aren’t bankrupt yet?”

“Well, not yet but we are getting close.  That’s what congress is worried about.”

“How can we even afford the interest payment on that much debt?”, she asked.

“Well, that’s a big problem for us now.  Our payments on debt is a big part of our budget and it’s growing.  That leaves us with less money to pay for other things.”, I responded.

“We have to pay all that money to the bank?”, she inquired.

“No, we pay it to our bond holders.  China holds a lot of it.”, I answered.

“Oh, just like in Supremacy!  So we have lots of debt and China has lots of bonds.  So each turn they make a bunch of money and we pay it?”, she clarified.

“Yes”, I said, “That’s mostly it.”

“Do they have a big navy?”, she asked.

“Not yet”, I said, “but they are trying to build one.”

“That’s not good.”, she said, “Do they have lots of ICBMs?”

“Yes”, I answered, “but so do we.”

“Ah, so there is no point in attacking us.  We’d just obliterate each other.”  She said, “What about North Korea?  I heard they were threatening to nuke us?”

“Yeah, but they only have like 1 or 2 and they aren’t long range or very reliable.”, I answered.

“Do we have ABMs?”, she asked.

“Sort of”, I answered, “It’s not full proof but we can shoot down some.”

“So it’s like we only have a couple ABMs in Supremacy but the North Koreans only have 1 ICBM?”, she surmised.

“Yeah,” I answered, “More or less.”

A surprising conversation considering that Emily is a 10 year old.  What?!  What is she?!  Some sort of international/political genius?  Nope.  Just a regular kid.  A regular kid that has played Supremacy!

Pretty sophisticated knowledge for a 10 year old.  Unlike most of her peers, she knows where Burma, Afghanistan and Argentina are and she can point them out on a map.  She understands the basics of global trade, conflict, negotiation and politics.

Well, that’s all good but what about nuclear war?  Doesn’t playing games like this make kids violent?  Nuclear war is horrific.  It shouldn’t be made into a fun game. It may seem that way at first.  A closer look actually reveals the opposite:  Studies show that wargamers tend to be more pacifistic than the general public.  It makes sense if you think about it.  People that play wargames understand better than anyone else how devastating and destructive war can be.  They see how it starts.  They know why it’s best to avoid it and  how.  The world would be a much better and safer place if more people played Supremacy.

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