How do I begin to tell you how frustrated, sad, and angered I become when I see crime, murder, and violence being attributed to gaming? It’s frustrating, because there are gamers who don’t realize that a game is not enough reason to commit a crime let alone take a life. It’s saddening, because the damage has been done and lives are either ruined or taken because of something so trivial. And finally, it’s frustrating, because people always choose to blame everything on gaming.
Philippine media thinks negatively of gaming
In the Philippines, mainstream media often attribute violence and crime to games. It has not been a month since a 16-year-old allegedly killed an 11-year old over Dota when it was reported that a 17-year-old allegedly killed his grandmother over the same game. There’s even a video report on Dota addiction and betting games.
In spite of the objectivity and lack of bias that supposedly exists in journalism, none of the big media channels in the Philippines reported that team Mineski competed as the sole Philippine representative in The International 2011 for a $1,000,000 cash prize. Neither did they think it was a big deal when 13-year-old Alexandre ‘AK’ Laverez placed third at an international Tekken championship.
The mainstream media seem to favor reporting only negative gaming news, and I fail to understand why. Is it because in the Philippines, this is how the general public perceives gamers and gaming? What are the consequences of telling the masses that there are positive sides to playing games, such as learning to work in teams, self-discipline, eye-hand coordination, and problem-solving skills?
The impression of gaming as built by gamers
In the Philippines, there are beliefs that video games make you stupid or dull; that it teaches people to be violent; or that it is the demon’s tool to make other people feel bad.
Do the reasons sound ridiculous to you? Well, defending gaming would be easier if gamers would be responsible enough to prove these beliefs otherwise.
Many Filipino gamers get so addicted to games that they don’t finish college. Some spend so much on betting games that they end up selling their gadgets and jewelry to fund their addictions. There are gamers who would rather stay home and play games instead of going to school or helping around the house.
Some become secluded and slowly draw themselves away from other people. What’s worse is that some people use their problems to justify their bad gaming habits. Some use the good old excuse that “nobody understands”, that their significant other broke up with them, or that ‘life is boring’.
What some Filipino gamers don’t understand (and sometimes don’t choose to understand) is that gaming is just like any other activity that needs to be treated in moderation. There is a fine line that turns a hobby into a vice. Unfortunately this is a line that many people cross.
They fail to understand that if the media doesn’t have any opportunities to report about negative gaming, they won’t be doing so any more.
Taking the easy way out
But that can only happen if people start to look at why others get addicted to gaming, and how to deal with it. When looking at gamers, most people fail to actually focus on their mental, social, or emotional root cause that is causing him or her to turn to gaming for solace. On other occasions, some people believe that it is better to not talk about it, perhaps because it’s easier that way.
This is all wrong.
Gaming is yet another form of leisure and entertainment. We bet on gaming the same way we bet on basketball games, and there is violence in it like there is violence in the movies. We yell at the screen during The International much like how others yell during the NBA grand finals. We get pissed when we get disturbed in the middle of the game the same way you get pissed when you’re in the middle of reading an interesting book. We get carried away with playing for hours much like how you tell yourself you’re just going to watch just one more episode of whatever series you’ve just downloaded.
As a student, I had gaming blamed for many things that went wrong in my life. No one stopped to wonder if I had turned to games for solace because I had been pressured into taking a college course I did not want, or because my parents were in the midst of separating from each other. They simply blamed the games. And that was just me deciding to stop schooling for a year to shift to a new course.
And yet despite football hooliganism, murders inspired by a TV series, and the so called My Way killings, no one has chosen to blame and ban sports, television, or songs for this. A book, a character, a TV show, or a game may be the trigger behind actions ranging from lashing out to murder, but it definitely isn’t the sole reason. But Philippine media choose not to see this.
The negative perception that local media has over gaming is not something that we can control, or change immediately. But if we reflect on ourselves as gamers, and on our own actions, it’s possible that we can change things for the long term.
It’s only when we stop skipping school, stop pawning gadgets and jewelry for more time on gambling sites, stop leaving immature comments on blog posts and stop being overly-sensitive to well-meaning constructive criticism from our friends and family that the media will finally stop looking at gamers as if they are a plague.
Philippine media might be wrong in their impression of us, but we’re no saints, either.