Child Soldier Goons are Being Undone by Video Games

The thugs in charge of recruiting kids for use in bloody African wars are finding their efforts are being hampered in Somalia. Not through the direct actions of the government or the UN, but because kids now have enough things to do in their spare time to keep them off the streets.

A report in Britain's Guardian reveals that in recent years, as the militant al-Shabaab movement was in charge of the nation's capital of Mogadishu, leisure pursuits such as video games were outlawed. Now that al-Shabaab is out, kids can get back to their games, and they're going mad for the things.

In conjunction with the ability for kids to get out and play football again, it's believed that their constant activity - school, sports and games - the youth of Somalia don't have the spare time to simply be hanging around as targets for militant recruitment groups like they used to.

Here's one particularly effective tale:

Ali Abdi, a 15-year-old, said he was trained to fight with al-Shabaab, but after returning home for a visit his mother would not let him return to the militants. His brother opened an arcade, where Ali now happily spends his time. He plans to return to school when militants no longer recruit from classrooms.

"Many of my friends are unlucky and have taken part in the violence in the country. Some of them have died. Others are carrying guns around. In some ways, video games have saved my life," he said.

There are downsides to this, of course, as there are also reports of children skipping school to play games. But, you know. Better that than being roped into a war.

Somalia video games boom dents al-Shabaab recruitment [The Guardian]