Computer game violence: magazine editor responds Regarding "In many computer games, violence is 'meaning'" (Readers Write, March 26): In a recent Monitor interview, I stated that I am involved with computer game criticism in order to advance the ideas of games which can change lives and perspectives ("Bringing new depth to computer gaming," March 4). Nowhere in that interview did I claim that all games change lives nor that all of the games that we cover in Computer Gaming World magazine are healthy, helpful entertainments.
Entertainment is often controversial. Whether one is speaking of stage productions, film, television, novels, or computer games, one often runs the risk that certain individuals will leap to the conclusion that the existence of negative behavior, self-destructive actions, and antisocial characters proves the approval of such behavior or characters. If there is to be conflict in a story, film, or game, there have to be bad guys. Bad guys make the art forms more interesting and the victory more satisfying.
In computer games, the gamer wants to experience and cause the results, not merely watch or hear. The easiest way to allow the gamer to cause the results is to build in cause and effect contingencies. Unfortunately, portraying violence and its reprehensible aftermath is the easiest and most commonly used means to give the gamer this opportunity to directly cause something to happen on the screen.
When I said that I was a prophet trying to call for more meaning in games, I didn't mean that I had succeeded. How arrogant that would have been! How many prophets actually succeeded in their own lifetimes? Did John the Baptist succeed in getting Herod to change his marital state? Didn't Amos get told to shut up and go away? Well, there are times that the industry tells me to shut up and go away, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a "mission."
As for advertisements, anyone who works for any publication in the United States should be able to tell you that there is a "separation of church and state" between editorial and advertisements. As editor in chief (now editorial director), you can blame me for the reviews, previews, and news articles in the magazine, but I don't usually know what ads are going into the magazine until after I see it printed.
As for my mission, I was the first reviewer in the country to review Sim-City and write a book on it. I believe in products which teach lessons about real life. I have proclaimed the dangers of war when reviewing military simulations and wargames. I may personally be a hollow reed whilstling in the wind of a cultural desert, but the whistle is being heard. As long as it's heard, I do have a mission.
Johnny L. Wilson San Francisco Editorial director Computer Gaming World
Japanese population control
I was disturbed by the information in "Japan's low birthrate slows birth-control pill approval" (March 11). There are still nations that view themselves as independent from the rest of Earth. The year 2050 will see up to 11 billion people subsisting on this globe. The Japanese population control officials seem to feel that because the Japanese birthrate is low, they should force it higher. We desperately need low birthrates to help balance out the already disproportionate number of people on Earth.
Secondly, no nation has the right to use women as a means to boost population levels. Women are not tools. Theirs is the ability to bring individuals into the world, if they so choose. Families are not formulas. They are as individual as the parents and the children within them.
AliCarmen Clark Santa Rosa, Calif.
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