NYT LTE: Video Games Not A “Solitary Pastime”

Last week I wrote a letter to the New York Times about something kind of silly, but about which I am something of an expert. Seeing as I haven’t heard back from them, I decided to post it here:

To the Editor:

As a former youngest Life Master of bridge, I was delighted to read about increasing bridge education in schools (“In Bridge, Schools See Mental and Social Benefits”, April 24). Bridge is a fantastic game for gaining social skills, and I benefited greatly from learning it as a child. But as an avid video game player, I was dismayed to see the Times describe video games as a “solitary pastime.” Popular games like Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution and World of Warcraft are all very social. Surveys, too, confirm the social character of video games. In 2008, a Pew Internet nationwide survey of 12-17 year olds found three quarters play video games with other people and 65% play games with someone else physically present.* I’m glad Bridge is making a comeback, but let’s get rid of this terrible misconception that video games are depriving today’s youth of social interactions.

* Technically, the survey asked teens how they play their favorite game, and they were allowed to give multiple answers. Only a quarter did not respond that they play their favorite game either physically or virtually with others. 65% reported that one of the ways they play their favorite game is with others physically present. But an LTE is capped at 150 words, so some nuance had to go.

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  1. Wait, is this Sports Illustrated article from 1989 about you?

    • The 1989 SI article is about my brother, who made Youngest Life Master about 7 years before I did, but I believe I am quoted as saying I will beat his record (which I did, though someone else beat it first). I was in People and the NYT. Why are you looking at a 1989 Sports Illustrated?

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