Gone Public

This blog has just gone public, with a touch of a button. A bit scary, but then again, how can we be supported by a public that can't find us? If you are tuning in just for a quick peek (as I do occasionally on the Blogger 'new blogs' page), go immediately to www.latdamuseum.org to understand what this blog is all about.

For those of you who tune in regularly (or semi-so), help me in welcoming another East coast member to the fold - Rol from Connecticut! Rol was one of the original founders of the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica (before he moved back East). We are planning to share insights on museum-founding (and funding) in the future.

Interesting story in the Los Angeles Times this weekend by Nick Turse regarding the new "cooperation" between the U.S. military industrial complex and the video game industry. Having lived through the "no war toys" era, it is mind-boggling to me to see how far in the other direction toys and games have gone in recent years. While it is the function of a museum to examine and explore its topics with a view to impartiality, it is sometimes difficult to keep from dropping one's jaw with incredulity at some of the games that make it to the marketplace. Of course people who feel that these games breed violence and should be banned outright, also need to look at the role of good parenting oversight as a factor.

The article states that since 1997, video games simulating combat have been "co-funded and co-developed" by the Department of Defense and the entertainment industry. Turse says that, ' With more and more "toys" that double as combat teaching tools, we are subjecting youth to a new and powerful form of propaganda. This is less a matter of simple military indoctrination than near immersion in a virtual world of war where armed conflict is not the last, but the first -- and indeed the only -- resort. The new military-entertainment complex's games may help to produce great battlefield decision makers, but they strike from debate the most crucial decisions young people can make in regard to the morality of a war -- choosing whether or not to fight and for what cause."

When I was in college, I remember the all-nighter Risk(r) games that would dominate certain dorms. It was surprising how many reasonably intelligent people I knew who were obsessed with attaining world domination -- not a diplomat among them. The same folks were also interested in games of Civil War strategy or sinking imaginary battleships. These were the war games of an era where you got your visuals of the casualties of war on the nightly news.

The question of whether war games or simulations encourage war-like behavior or not is a hot topic every year around holiday time. It is also the type of sociological impact of toys that exhibitions at LATDA will explore. Personally, I found these games as boring and tedious to follow (or play) as I find today's cutting-edge techno warfare games. Perhaps when today's youth is immersed in virtual warfare (as the dweebs of yore) they find experiencing the real thing unnecessary and unengaging (or too much work). I can't think of one of the Risk (r) fanatics I knew who actually became a member of the military industrial complex.