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Macedonia: Traditional Media Demonize Gamers

This is not the first outbreak of technophobia in Macedonia
(MKD). Traditional media have been portraying computer geeks as a
threat in the past on many occasions. A case in point was the 2002
affair when many citizens complained about inflated phone bills, and
titles such as “Citizens ripped off by computer geeks' hot line talks” (MKD) blamed some generalized hackers, “burying” the possibility for mishap by the Telecom deep in the bowels of the text.

The latest technophobic trend includes articles with almost
identical structure. They first advocate the thesis that gaming is a
waste of youth's time, making them antisocial and aggressive, supported
by anonymous statements by gamers or internet café owners, as well as
psychologists or sociologists who confirm the thesis, even though they
haven't actually made any empirical research about the issue. Use of
stigmatizing terminology “suitable” for the demonized, marginalized
groups in such articles is particularly worrisome.

For instance, the article “They leave their girlfriends and jobs to play”
(MKD) equates gaming with “addiction” leading to “abandoned workplaces;
stalled or ruined studies, and broken loves.” The most alarming thesis
is that “violent games cause aggression,” for it portrays gamers as
potential murderers who could snap at any time.

A similar story titled “Internet cafes are full of gamers” (MKD) incited numerous reactions on the Macedonian web, especially on the link sharing service Kajmak.ot
(MKD). The article quotes a sociologist who seems to forget that
children used to play “shoot them up” games such as “cowboys and
Indians” or World War II-inspired “partisans and Germans” way before computer games were invented:

Experts warn that such games are dangerous. The
aggression in front of the computer continues in the games outside the
internet cafes, because when they exit into the real world, they are
incapable of communicating in any other way.

“I had an opportunity to observe several internet cafes and a group
of children who spent a lot of time there. They constantly played war
games. They got so carried away, they even screamed, they were so
immersed,” stated university professor Ilija Acevski.

“At that time I asked myself what the connection with reality was,
when they faced real life after that. Will there be negative
consequences? Of course!” said Acevski.

Placing a comment after the article on the A1 website, Darko Buldioski, one of the authors of the Komunikacii blog, wrote (MKD):

I still don't understand how the same old stories get repeated without any effort to dig a little deeper.

Such observations by this expert do not make him an expert. He
should make his views public after conducting a scientific research on
the subject, not an estimate at a glance.

In stories of this type, journalists continuously claim that
“scientific research done worldwide justifies the fact that this way of
communication represents addiction, an addiction which is the same as
all types of vices.” Where are these scientific researches, why don't
you show them to us…

Damjan Arsovski, the editor of the portal IT.com.mk, also reacted by vivisecting the news with responses paragraph-by-paragraph in his article “Macedonian media are full of stupidities” (MKD):

“To spend 5, 6 or more hours per day on the computer
playing games or surfing the net, to live in cyberspace in a spaceless
time.” (sic)

– I spend 5-6 hours per day on the internet every day, and in this
“unreal” world I communicate with my peers, with businesspeople,
receive information from all over the world, work on my education…

But even he could not muster a comment to the qualification from the conclusion of the article:

Gamers are regular people. They are children, fathers,
husbands, brothers, but behind the computer screens they have another
face–to use geek speak–they most often become cyber beasts.

FOSS advocate Arangel Angov posted a link to a scan of similarly absurd article from an old American tabloid as his reaction.

Treating this subject in such a way can be correlated with the lack
of will to explore the underlying reasons for the increasing number of
crimes, which is one of the dominant topics in the Macedonian media.
Experts do not even attempt to explain the psychological or
sociological motives affecting the perpetrators of the violent
incidents during the parliamentary elections in June.
It seems it is far easier to attack the gamers, even though so far no
gamer has been pointed out as perpetrator of an incident involving
violence.

However, it must be noted that some positive portraits of gamers
have appeared in the same media outlets in the past, but only in the
context of participation of teams from Macedonia in world cybersports championships (MKD).


Originally posted on Global Voices by Filip Stojanovski

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