Mark Horowitz is the New York editor for Wired magazine, and a geekdad in his own right. Recently he posted a great article about kids and videogames on the office’s in-house blog:
I have a soft spot for the Call of Duty video games. I’m not a fanatical participant. (In fact, I’m an infrequent and pathetic player of COD 3 only.) I’m a fan because because video games like Call of Duty, the Medal of Honor series, and Battlefield: 1942 got my son interested in military history, which in turn got him interested in all kinds of history. In this particular case, video games made him smarter.His education started in the 6th grade, with him digging online to learn more about the equipment that soldiers used in World War II. He wanted to know about the guns he was using in the games. Then he got interested in squad tactics and specific campaigns, like the Normandy invasion. He began reading Stephen Ambrose’s books about WWII, and eventually read most of them. He watched Band of Brothers on DVD. (The HBO series, based on an Ambrose bestseller and produced by
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, was a huge influence on the style of all the WWII first-person shooters, so it was natural that a game fan was led back to the original films.) To learn more about the battle of Stalingrad (which is featured in Battlefield: 1942 and the first Call of Duty), he read Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad, along with Vasily Grossman’s A Writer at War
(that’s him in the photo). That led to a deeper interest in European and American history which is still blossoming. Suddenly, I had a kid who was devouring lengthy, adult-level books and had become interested in huge swathes of world history. All because of a bunch of video shoot-’em-ups!