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.