Kill or Be Killed

Yesterday, I sat with my 9-year-old nephew as he engaged in one of his favorite pastimes, watching gameplay videos of YouTubers Pat and Jen playing Minecraft. As we watched, he explained to me some mechanics of the ongoing game, which at the time was Bed Wars. There were 8 teams, each composed of a pair. Each team had to destroy the other teams’ beds, while protecting its own. The team that outlasts the rest wins.

My nephew explained: “Some teams become allies. They protect each other and attack the other teams together.”

I watched as the White team became acquainted with the Aqua team. There was uncertainty and paranoia between them at first, as each team tried to figure out whether the other was gonna destroy their bed and kill them.

Eventually, the two teams became allies. One team could be in the other’s base and yet not get attacked, primarily because it didn’t show any aggression first either.

And so it went on, the White and Aqua teams brushing up against each other in the arena and yet not killing off the other. They were allies.

Until they were the only ones left.


My nephew went on, “When it’s only you and your allies left, you have to…

As his voice trailed off to a silence, I voiced what he couldn’t seem to bear saying. “…Turn on each other?


A pause.

I sat frozen in front of the screen, my mouth half-ajar. I was absolutely mortified at the thought of children having to make decisions on moral dilemmas like that.

That’s what I don’t like,” my nephew continued. “That’s why I kill others who want to team with me. Because when you get too kind, they turn on you first.

I still couldn’t speak.

There were no words for that moment.

There was only a silent understanding, of what it meant. ♠

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days. [I’ve given up on the ‘consecutive’ part, but I intend to finish the 30 days!]

Today is Day 25.

About the Author •


16 thoughts on “Kill or Be Killed

  1. This world is training them, the next generation won’t be Millennials they will have stepped past the crying me, me, me…they will do things that will not have any compassion or empathy and just take, take, take.
    A little worrying, you can see it in the current road rage incidents etc, they are getting worse, and with a country full of guns it won’t be nice 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s indeed a bit concerning. I suspect there will be more challenging dilemmas in the near future, about gun control, war, things as such… The burden currently falls on us. It’s a tough balance teaching children how to protect themselves while also looking out for others, especially when some of the “others” are the ones who hurt them in the first place.

      Thanks for the visit, Mark!


  2. I hear that. So much more going on in the psyche of children as they play video games. Too much in my own home; a shameful admission. Your story reminds me of Hunger Games. There are some political writings somewhere… about how we help each other when we are of lower socioeconomic status but as we become affluent we turn away and become more of an island of “me & mine” and become less generous in helping others. Democratic to Republican was the transition that was explained. I wish I could remember where I read/heard it but could have been Thom Hartmann.
    I am enjoying the discovery of your blog and grateful you left the trail by way of following mine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I recently rewatched the entire Hunger Games series. I could see the analogy you pointed out. Interesting, it could indeed be interpreted as a commentary on modern society.

      I’m glad to have found your blog. I saw we have a lot in common, we’re both in psychology and also into writing. Looking forward to discovering more of your writing, too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was also going to say it sounded very ‘Hunger Games’ to me. I have seen kids explicitly playing Hunger Games on some Minecraft servers. I don’t think all hope is lost however =P I just saw an amazing article about kids overthrowing their teacher in a ‘dictatorship’ simulation for the first time in all the years she’s run it. I hope the marches they’re organizing for next month go well!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. What scared me more though was recognizing I had a similar sense of cynicism and distrust. I’ve since been more aware of that tendency, and am trying to find a way to trust more…or better yet, be more intelligent about trusting.

      Liked by 1 person

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