For those of you who think that there is no connection between my posts on video games and my posts on stress and inequality, I beg to differ. Clive Thompson’s commentary, “Suicide Bombing Makes Sick Sense in Halo 3” helps us see how. First he writes:
The structure of Xbox Live creates a world composed of two classes — haves and have-nots. And, just as in the real world, some of the disgruntled have-nots are all too willing to toss their lives away — just for the satisfaction of momentarily halting the progress of the haves. Since the game instantly resurrects me, I have no real dread of death in Halo 3.
Here we have a direct connection to being in the “wrong” class mentioned by Sapolsky, in this case, the have-nots who get killed so quickly it makes their head spin. But Clive found his revenge by blowing himself and his enemy up with a plasma grenade—and believe me, the elite players hate to die needlessly. Clive then makes a further point:
Even though I’ve read scores of articles, white papers and books on the psychology of terrorists in recent years, and even though I have (I think) a strong intellectual grasp of the roots of suicide terrorism, something about playing the game gave me an “aha” moment that I’d never had before: an ability to feel, in whatever tiny fashion, the strategic logic and emotional calculus behind the act.
Understanding that moment in the aha fashion, the feel of it for the player, is central to our understanding. And there’s the link to the American Dream post, for Bob Herbert highlights the combined effect of the person caught without a dream in an increasingly difficult American reality.