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Dad Goes Overboard When Teaching Sons the Truths of War

Sweden is a fine country. The people who live there are tall, blonde, and beautiful. Sweden has also given the world savory meatballs, affordable yet stylish modern furniture, award winning swimsuit teams, lutefisk, and bisexual tech savvy alt-girls with dragon tattoos that solve crimes. What's not like about Sweden? I should disclose that I know pretty much nothing about Sweden.

I mentioned the Swimsuit Team right?

What I do know about the swedes for certain is that the ones that I have met have been incredibly warm and friendly. Two swedes that were friends of friend attended a 4th of July BBQ at my home a few years ago. Were they blonde? Sure thing. Were they tall? No doubt. Did they bring Swedish fish? You bet. Were they beautiful? I actually propositioned one of them and I'm not even gay. I opened up my home to them and showed them some good old timey American hospitality and gluttony with plenty of beer, booze, food, and a roasted suckling pig as the coup de grace. Then we blew shit up, because that's how we celebrate the birth of 'Merica! We have never spoken since.

So why am I going on and on about Sweden? Because out of all the great things they put out, like Pippi Longstocking, Anders Borg's ponytail, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and free health care for children, they too have people who go completely overboard when it comes to their perceptions of violence in videogames.

Sweden is indeed a magical place.

Case and point, meet Carl-Magnus Helgegren, father, journalist, university teacher, and owner of the most Swedishy sounding name I've ever heard of. Again, I really do know very little about Sweden, so take that for what it's worth.

I'm a big believer in always assuming positive intent. No doubt, Helgegren had good intentions when he learned that his sons, aged 10 and 11, expressed interest in the latest Call of Duty game. The original article on TheLocal.se did not mention what version of Call of Duty his sons wanted, but I assume it's Call of Duty: Ghosts. *On a side note, I have a coworker who loves to tell me, "You know what they say when you assume? You make an ASS of U and ME." She can really kiss my ass.

Helgegren made a deal with them. He would get them the game, but first he wanted them to have a true understanding of what war is all about. So he packed them up into the family car, probably a Volvo, or Saab, and drove to the airport. Their destination Israel and Gaza.

Going to Israel and Gaza was actually his third choice; he first considered Iraq or Afghanistan. Full disclosure, Helgegren does have experience travelling in these areas as a journalist.

He decided that his first choices might be a tad too dangerous just to make a point and teach a lesson on the horrors of war, so Israel and Palestinian territories were selected as the destination for Easter break.

Now, while the Helgegren's were on their trip, the area was not as tumultuous as it is today with what is essentially full on and open hostilities between the Israelis and Palestinians, but this was no pleasure trip either. The Helgegren's visited refugee camps in east Jerusalem, clinics where people were getting stitched up, as well as an illegal drug market. FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

Look at the excitement in those boys faces. BEST VACATION EVER!

I also hear that the illegal drug market has a real shitty souvenir shop too. Their best seller is a t-shirt that says, "I went all the way to an illegal Israeli drug clinic and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and a staph infection."

After ten days, the Helgegren's returned home and surprise; the boys really had no interest in playing Call of Duty anymore. I also imagine that Carl Helgegren will be taking advantage of that free children's healthcare. I'm sure that includes mental health services for children right?

The reception from the media, friends and colleagues was also not very warm to Helgegren for the most part. Helgegren claims that he has received criticism as well as death threats, including getting doused in napalm and set on fire, which is a wee bit hypocritical, don't you think? "How dare you traumatize your children by showing human suffering! Now I'm going to set you on fire and traumatize your children!"


I do believe that Helgegren had good intentions; as most parents are want to do when it comes to their children. There is a small part of me however, that can't help to feel that Helgegren was being a bit selfish as he was also trying to write a good story. Upon his return he did write and publish an article detailing his family's travel and the reasons of this trip. It certainly is a good story, but is putting the welfare of your children at risk to write a good story and prove a point really worth it?

Also, is taking your children all the way to an actual warzone really necessary? Couldn't you just sit down with them and have a discussion about the topic? Maybe turn on the TV and watch the news or go onto the web and do a bit of research? Perhaps, and this may be a stretch, sit down with your boys and play the game together?

As a parent, I really don't like it when other people tell me how I should raise my children. Maybe this is truly what Helgegren felt would resonate with his   own children and teach them a life long lesson. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, even if he may have gone a bit overboard.

Maybe we should give Helgegren some credit. Gamers love to complain on how parents don't take enough interest in what their kids play and will buy them any game they ask for, regardless of content. Here's a parent who does understand that some games may not be appropriate for everyone and he did something about it. He's also Swedish and has a cool name, so additional kudos for him as well.

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About SpielerDadone of us since 5:24 PM on 02.08.2013

I'm just a dad writing about games, technology, movies, and geeky stuff that tickles my fancy.

A little background:
- I'm the youngest of two children with one older sister.

- I'm first generation American as my parents were born in Italy.

- Married to a wonderful wife and have two amazing daughters who makes me laugh, smile, cry, and scream every day.

- Hobbies include exercise, reading, writing, sci-fi, film, and of course, video games.