Boy, now I know it's gonna be hard to keep these posts from reducing to rants against the game industry, but wow. Check out the web sites for kids (kids!) that the NSA and CIA have put together:
CIA Home for Kids
Cartoons about spying and surveillance. Nice. You gotta wonder how much money was spent putting the CryptoKids thing together. Why is the NSA designing games for kids? Also, be sure to click the links on the CIA site, one of the links says "K-5th Grade Homepage". See? Kindergarten is not too early to learn about our spooks.
I have also spoken about how games are used to promote war -- see how games are used to attract and, essentially, train kids for warfare, check out these:
Rise of a Soldier
SOCOM II - US Navy Seals
Note that these games aren't just designed to simulate the experience of soldiers or seamen -- they are designed in cooperation with, and branded by, those branches of the US military. I suppose a game called "Extreme Pacifist: Let's Get Peaceful!™" wouldn't sell, eh?
I am only left, then, to wonder: where are the games that teach the values of cooperation and learning? Even if they existed, would they ever find shelf space at Wal*Mart? Will web sites like CryptoKids help promote a free exchange of ideas? Can such a market ever be balanced? Again, not arguing that these games shouldn't be published, but hoping that alternatives are out there somewhere.