Mainstream Media on Games Might be Working

I didn’t think I was going to cover this one. Intended to ignore it completely, in fact. An experience yesterday changed my mind. Yesterday morning, the company I work for hosted a session of the ‘Online Gaming Wellbeing‘ workshop, run by the Learn with League division of Riot.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this workshop going in. I had been forwarded the invite only a day or so prior, so I hadn’t really dug into the detail yet.

I wondered whether they were going to try and get a bunch of corporates to play a game of League. Maybe then try draw some learnings from that. That would have been amusing, to say the least. (Also, I had already mentally dibsed going support. Leona, probably.)

I felt compelled to login again just to get a screenshot. Only felt up to ARAM though, as it has been aaaages since I played a ‘real’ game of League.

So I will admit, when I turned up there a definite sense of disappointment upon entering the venue and noting that it was not, in fact, set up in preparation for a mini-LAN party.

But the session was valuable and eye-opening even so.

The question of why we were here doing this session, in light of video games inspiring violence like the Christchurch massacre was brought up.

The question was given voice by a smart, intelligent person. Yet clearly the rhetoric in American mainstream media had done its job.

I was really surprised by this at the time although, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been. The response it drew though was immediate.

Voiced in a near shout from another corner of the room, defying this and calling it out as untrue. I worried that this poor person was going to be left scarred by the encounter. For daring give voice to, what was to them, a legitimate and serious concern.

The hostility and derision in the room from those who in turn likely felt personally attacked by the question was palpable. But only for a moment thankfully. The room gentled almost immediately. I think there was a realisation that while perhaps not asked in the most tactful way, or with a good read of the room, it was a sincere worry.

There followed a brief discussion on the closer correlation between access to guns and gun violence. We talked to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the conclusions being espoused in the media. We also had someone in the room who had grown up in Japan. They testified from first-hand experience just how false the claim that Japan and similar cultures didn’t game was, or that it could even possibly therefore follow that the lack of gaming was the reason they had less gun violence.

Ultimately I don’t know whether we convinced the person who raised the question or not. We might have. The conversation certainly could have gone a lot worse given the knee-jerk reaction of a start it received. But the Riot host handled the situation with a surprising degree of grace. He allowed people to have their say on an extremely charged topic without allowing a total derailment of the workshop.

A Transition Post of Sorts

I hadn’t necessarily planned on addressing the events of last Friday here again. Quite the opposite in fact, I had intended to talk to it once, get my say out and then in recognition of the fact this is a place for gaming rather than real-life news, move on.

But I can’t. I haven’t been able to, instead getting quite stuck. I’ve opened countless ‘New Posts’, some inspired by other posts. Then maybe I get so far as to draft a title and opening line, only to then falter.

It isn’t that I haven’t been gaming — I have. It has been a welcome respite from the continual heartbreak from the constant coverage of the event. I have no complaint with how the news media in New Zealand has responded to the event, in fact they’ve shown an amazing degree of maturity and respect, putting people first.

Gaming — in particular The Division 2 with other Kiwi and Aussie friends — has been a way for us to decompress and just breathe again for a little bit.

But when it came to returning here and posting about it, or anything, I’ve struck something of a mental block. I didn’t see a way to return to normalcy — a feeling perhaps paralleled in life a little bit. How could I return to such a light-weight topics like Friday never happened? It hasn’t even been a week yet, but it feels like a time from another age.

I sort of joked about this last month1 in the ‘Planning for Success’ section, but I don’t really have a post schedule per se. My internal commitment (well, formerly internal, I suppose!) is one post a week and I’m not close to breaking that. I was still conscious though, that already today would have marked the longest break between posts since I started.

My hope is that posting this will act as a bridge between the worlds, here. That I can acknowledge the necessary role that gaming is playing in maintaining breathing room and overall mental health, without taking away recognition from what has happened.

As an aside, the outpouring of support for the Islamic victims as a nation is beautiful. At least one Catholic church has opened their doors, hosting inter-faith services with Islamic leaders standing side-by-side with Catholic priests. Even in the corporate world, bitter rivals in to Telco space banded together to proactively block sites hosting the hate-fueled, white supremacist terrorist attack footage.

This is what New Zealand is made of. This is who we are.

New Zealand’s Darkest Day

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern has rightly called yesterday (15th March, 2019) ‘New Zealand’s Darkest Day’. Covering real world news is not something I intend to do normally, but this is so incredibly far from normal.

If you’ve not yet heard, Christchurch, one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand was subject to a terror attack at the hands of a small number of white supremacists. At this time, there are 49 confirmed deaths with 48 more critically injured in hospital. Children are among this number. By far, the worst our country has ever seen.

For updated details, NZ Herald and Stuff are doing their best to keep up with it. So I’ll keep this short.

This act of violence was horrific in every sense. It was cold, calculated and utterly born of a place of hate. It was evil. It was terrorism. Jacinda Adern took a strong stance and called it what it was with no beating around the bush, so while I do not agree with all she does, in this she has my utmost respect and support.

The values that lead these white supremacists to this action are so foreign to NZ as a culture it is a type of shellshock that the nation is experiencing in even trying to fathom how we got here, to the first day in our history of being at high terror alert. At having to warn Muslim people to stay away from their places of worship and prayer lest there be more attacks planned.

There is nothing I or anyone else can say to make this right for those most directly affected, but nonetheless know that all the love and support I can muster goes with you. This is true, too, for those who were separated from their children or parents today due to the city going into lockdown while IEDs in cars were found and disarmed, while we couldn’t be certain there were no remaining active shooters.

To the members of my team based in Christchurch, who called reporting the gunfire they could hear (their office being no more than a 5 minute walk from the Hagley Park Mosque), without yet knowing what was going on — your assistance and calm in locking down the site and keeping everyone there safe makes you heroes in my eyes.

Yesterday was a horrific day, and tomorrow is going to be one of reckoning. In one sense, because the confirmed shooter is in custody and due to appear in court tomorrow, sure. In another because of the resurfaced trauma just barely put to bed after the loss of life and homes in the Christchurch Earthquakes.

Victim Support New Zealand — whom you should reach out to should you get a sense of those feelings returning — has also setup a ‘Give a little’ page for anyone who would like to donate to support those most directly impacted. It was sitting just under $NZ400,000 when I was last able to load the page but the demand to donate is rendering the site difficult to use at the time of writing.