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Video games on the front line: War Child's Armistice

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Here at Ask About Games we like to mention games' power to improve the lives of youngsters. Usually, we're talking about the players of the games themselves. This week, however, we wanted to draw your attention to something a little different.

This week War Child – the charity that supports children in conflict – launched its increasingly popular Armistice initiative. At it's most fundamental level, the projects celebrates peaceful gaming at the same time as raising vital funs for children in conflict zones, either as civilians or as those made to be soldiers. And it shows games have a remarkable power for good.

Video games are – often unfairly – associated with violence. That' something the War Child team are acutely aware of. As such, Armistice is not about non-violent games, but putting pacifist content into violent games, to provoke a little thought and raise a lot of cash.

The way it works is like this; game developers update their games to add new content for the duration of the initiative which runs until mid-December. As such, a sci-fi shooter might swap guns and bullets for a snowball fight. An combat-focused city building game could redress itself as a music festival simulation. Or a military action title may switch tossing grenades for a cocoon shy. In other words, developers are encouraged to come up with creative ways to make their violent gameplay peaceful for a while.

Players can then donate and pay for the content in various ways, making huge amounts of money for those in need of War Child's help. Last year in eight weeks Armistice raised £130,000.

And if your kids are enjoying an age-appropriate game that does contain violent content, War Child's Armistice offers a great way to help your kids think about the reality of that content.

An impressive number of games are taking part this, including WWI shooter Verdan, which is holding a cease for 11am on Remembrance Day, and World of Tanks, which has special War Child in-game goods for sale to raise some cash for the charity.

To find out more, check out this special video detailing what Armistice is, and how it hopes to help children in conflict.

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Will Freeman