Cooperate and collaborate: Children don't play with Lego bricks anymore

Wael Elazab
5 Min Read

“Commander . they’ve not only cut off our reinforcements, they have started bringing in their own . we need you to infiltrate the base, take out the radar, and eliminate their forces .

Certain pursuits in life, those associated with a battlefield, are regularly tagged as violent, aggressive, or require conduct unbecoming of a gentleman. Some will relish in the order to ‘fire ion cannon’ and genetically engineer supersoldiers, while others will revel in the strategy of conquest and the risk it entails.

“Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars places you in the year 2047 and puts you in the role of field commander in a gruesome conflict between the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod.

The immersive digital environment which this computer game creates is a startling model of reality. The saga has already been ongoing for decades. You join just as a controlling power (the GDI) is dividing the world into geographical zones based on contamination levels of a mutagenic crystal called tiberium. The opposing faction, Brotherhood of Nod, is depicted as Abrahamic – coming from one of the three monotheistic religions – with ancient roots; and tactics that are deemed to be extreme and cruel. A third, invading alien race, called the Scrin, is also introduced during the game.

Command and Conquer offers plenty of eye candy and regularly treats you with high-definition footage of your work. Humvees are seen careening through battle-stricken urban landscapes as tilt-jet assault aircraft dodge rocket fire. Various B-list celebrities act out a bad sci-fi script in true B movie style that offers up the various political angles of the storyline.

As the fearless leader of your troops, the game has you playing the role of logistics manager, since development of your units and your base’s technology tree are essential in waging an effective operation. Each faction’s campaign has you carrying out a series of missions that will ultimately result in your ascension to world leader and domination of your opponents. All of this takes place in real-time and demands that you think fast and execute orders efficiently in the face of battle.

The service all of this does to the human psyche is beyond measure.

The game is entirely playable over a local area network, or the Internet, either in cooperation or head-to-head. Such a virtual environment – a computer-generated, interactive simulation – provides a communicative and social setting.

Just as an epic movie or a good book does, a good computer game lets the player escape, in part by exploiting some of the historic films and novels that have entertained us in the past.

Playing Command and Conquer, it’s difficult not to picture scenes from “Aliens with Sigourney Weaver and the Colonial Marines inside an armored personnel carrier, or the fire-fights and helicopter action from “Black Hawk Down . Though computer games are seen in a different and sometimes negative light, they have the special effects to compete with the cinema, and the art of telling a good story is still the key.

And if computer games can be educational, it’s not necessarily in an academic or quantitative way, but also as a part of human development.

All kinds of games are indelibly associated with almost every human society; they have served to pass on desirable virtues and skills to the next generation. Learning about teamwork, the need for practice and hard work, can all happen just by playing football for your school. And electronic games are uniquely suited to training individuals how to navigate our modern information society.

All games teach the players something, and all computer games, even those that let you bomb civilians, are educational.

Whether you care about the content of computer games or not, they will continue adapting to the abilities and skills of their players, and just maybe, one day, they will start learning from us.

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