Letters to the Editor for the April 15, 2013 weekly print issue: Video games train people to respond without thinking – the same motor memory employed in firing a gun. And in spite of China's capitalist boon, cardinal Marxist axioms are still deeply embedded in Chinese political ideology.
Bar Harbor, Maine and Sarasota, Fla.
Regarding the Commentary spread in the March 4 issue, "Do video games trigger violence?": In her dueling essay on the connection between video games and gun violence, Kristin M.S. Bezio claims that "playing a video game depicting violence does not necessarily increase the likelihood that a child will engage in violence at that age or later." Ms. Bezio does admit that video games can influence ideology, but that isn't what gives them the kick that makes them so popular.
The power of video games is in training young muscles to respond without thinking in familiar situations. That's why the military uses them to build fast reaction times and fine-motor control. This is no intellectual exercise; it is training our muscles to respond as reflexes in tense situations so that when we see a target, we hit that target without having to think. The same motor memory is employed in playing video games as in firing a gun.
John Sanbonmatsu, whose essay counters Bezio's, clearly wins the debate. His argument is summarized: "Games, weapons, and the military are so entwined that the distinction between real and virtual killing is eroding." Bezio's observation that society once blamed violence in Shakespeare for producing violent acts is beside the point.