What You Don’t Know about Gaming Can KILL YOU

Author: Lori Dance

Lori Dance on Global News Toronto

Kids, if you’re ever approached by a mainstream-news outlet to be interviewed on the topic of gaming, run. Far away. In the opposite direction. And ask for an adult.

My first (and arguably last) opportunity to learn this hard lesson came in the form of an ambiguous email last Thursday morning from Marianne Dimain from Global Toronto. The ensuing phone call was the hook: Recent studies show that blah blah blah gaming is bad for relationships blah blah blah. As the former Editor-in-Chief of a site dedicated to couples and gaming, was I available to discuss how gaming can work in relationships despite the fact that I was half asleep and had mere hours to prepare? Hell, indeed

Marianne Dimain and Gar Wan Toy
Photo Credit: A Potato

I called up Gar Wan Toy from A & C Games and asked him if we could score some space; he graciously offered A & C World downstairs for our needs. When I arrived, Gar was being interviewed by Marianne: She asked him how many hours per day he plays video games; he answered that, with work and his current relationship, he really only plays for about an hour per day…

… the first flag was raised when she asked him how many hours per day he played at the peak of his gaming heyday…

… but then they discussed other things, like how he balances gaming with the time he spends with his girlfriend; he said that it’s time to put the controller down when she calls; it’s all about balance. Marianne then asked him if he knew of any couples who have had problems in their relationships because of gaming. Well, doesn’t any gamer who co-owns a multi-level gaming complex?

As they set up for my interview, Gar ran upstairs to grab FFVII for me (because he’s awesome). The second flag was raised when the camera was set up at an upwards angle (I don’t always have a double chin but, when I do…), but I answered each of Marianne’s questions in a way that, I hoped, would clearly express my point of view.

Gaming, I explained, is not the cause; it’s a symptom. You could replace the word “gaming” with “gambling” or “shopping” or “macramé” and it’s the same issue: If a hobby is taking over the quality time you spend with your partner, it translates into a lack of communication. That said, when you have two people who game (or gamble or shop or macramé) together all the time instead of spending “other” time together (yes, like looking at dogs), it’s another issue; a shared addiction is still an addiction. But gaming is not the cause.

Marianne then asked me if my husband and I fell in love because of our shared love of video games. Not at all, I replied. We came together through mutual attraction, witty banter, and a shared sense of humour. In fact, the topic didn’t come up at first and, when it did, it was a pleasant surprise. We’re just two people in a relationship who have other interests and hobbies and who just happen to like video games.

She then thanked us both for our time and I bade Gar adieu before jetting home to agonize over every last detail of the previous hour. But then I forgot about it. And then I saw this:

I believe that this tweet from my good friend James Speedy sums it up perfectly.

In retrospect, it might be argued that the answers we gave were not the ones that were expected and, since the story pitch that was approved was geared towards supporting whatever study said that gaming was bad (and scaring the hell out of my parents when the preview for the piece showed my wedding photo with the words “GAME OVER” splashed across it), she had to do what she could to make the footage fit. In fact, my old pal Ryan Creighton from Untold Entertainment came to me this morning with a similar tale of woe. But that still doesn’t make it cool.

Look, news outlets, I don’t care if you know nothing about the demographic that the study you’re reporting is looking to debase; that’s why you interview people. And when you don’t get the answers you’re looking for, here’s a protip: Don’t use the footage! If you want to talk to me about stuff I’m passionate about, ask me and then air it without shaping it to your anti-stuff-I’m-passionate-about agenda.

Taking answers out of context just makes people angry. And you wouldn’t like Toronto gamers when they’re angry.


  • Juda

    I’ve always been a fan of A. Potato’s photography.

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      The camera was set to “macro.” Derp.

  • jamesspeedy

    As requested, here is a similar tale of when I learned that mainstream news has little interest in telling balanced stories about games.

    It was back in 2008. I was sick, or at least that’s what my boss thought since this happened to be the day that GTA 4 dropped (a game I was extremely excited to start playing). Of course, because there was a lot of buzz about the game – which promised an unparalleled sense of realism – and the CBC was looking to give it a bit of coverage.

    Now, I’m pretty outspoken in defence of video games but back in 2008, I was a little shyer about sharing that position. My ex, who worked for the ceeb at the time, however, asked me as a favour to help a colleague out who was working on a story about violence in games, and most notably, GTA 4.

    Now, it didn’t even cross my mind that this might help my career, in fact, I asked them not to film me for the piece since I was skipping work to play, I just saw it like anyone else who is mildly intelligent and loves games would see it; a chance to set the record straight.

    So, the intrepid reporter called me and asked a totally reasonable set of questions. I was mostly on point, though admittedly I may have described, in detail, how crazy it was when you hit someone with a car and they rag-dolled across your hood, but it went…ok. I was happy because I drew the talk back to how I thought it was such an interesting comment on the genre because I’d been happy to play completely wildly and out of control in previous GTA games (which featured more cartoon-y plots and violence) but when it got more realistic, that felt perverse and changed the way I played. I mentioned how Rockstar had manged to make me “feel” more playing this game by making it feel “realer” and how I’d been breaking that idea down and relished in the story. I was even driving like a real person and got upset when a buddy came over and started blowing stuff up and generally being out of control with “my” Niko Bellic.

    Now, I’m sure you know where this is going. Cue me, antsy in front of the television, waiting for my major news debut when, of course, I’m nowhere to be found. Turns out, the story they wanted to make was about the negative effect of gaming violence and I guess my answers were too lucid to use. I can’t completely remember the story, only being more than a little disallusioned that they’d changed tack midstream and avoided using anything I’d said because it would complicate their black and white scare story.

    It turned me off talking to the mainstream press about games pretty much entirely and I’ve said as much to anyone who will listen. If you don’t want a balanced story, go find one fo the many scared parents and pseudo-science spewing professors to support your stories. Don’t get gamers hopes up that we can actually speak up for an under-represented and passionate group of people who share a love for one, slightly rude, just a bit violent type of art.

    My stance – and that of my mother, who’s been an edcuation professional for over 20 years – is that there are kids who are succeptible to violent media everywhere. They’re as much at risk playing Call of Duty as they are watching violent action movies, listening to Marilyn Manson (sorry for the dated reference) or taking in a horror movie. Without proper supervision – and context, as provided by intelligent and thoughtful parents – these kids will end up being violent regardless. It’s not games, it’s kids that can’t tell between real violence and play violence, that don’t know why hurting people in real life is wrong, even if it’s ok in a game.


    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      • jamesspeedy

        you found it! i adore that show, that ep in particular. but it might be because it panders to my inner-audio-editor.

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      Seriously, though, I agree with the points you’ve made. The experience was like being asked to a party only to find that you’ve won your date a bet for bringing the ugliest girl. Or, as I like to call it, “every Friday night.”

  • http://twitter.com/Jushin Justin Das

    great article

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      Thanks, Justin! Tell your friends.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thebigsmuz Mike Smusiak

    LOL, unplug the controller….I still play my NES and all, but it’s not really relevant with the current gen consoles. 😛

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      “No more Duck Hunt for you,” she exclaimed with a flourish as she exited the room, controller in hand, having left the Zapper behind…

  • Gar – A & C Games

    that pretty much sums it up, only thing i may see not pointed out is she
    asked me to play during the interview so I don’t know that was to make
    me look like I can’t put down the controller or for aesthestic purposes
    and calling me “Gamer” and not pointing out “Store Owner” etc.

    • Juda

       That actually irked me a lot.

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      It didn’t occur to me at the time—I thought that she was testing you to see if you could answer questions and pay attention whilst playing. The “gamer” thing was obvious and not cool, especially since you talked about your business and how many hours you spend working.

  • Toronto Boy


    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      Instead of fucking reporters and the media (unless that’s your bag), why don’t we challenge them instead to learn more about what they’re reporting and invite them to air multiple aspects of a story? 

      Because a balanced news segment isn’t effective enough in scaring the shit out of its viewers, you say? okay.jpg 

  • Nick Polmolea

    I may not know Gar alot but I know that he isn’t the type of guy who’ll play video games over his store and relationship with his family, I mean everytime I go to A & C games I see him taking care of the store from opening hours to closing hours and never played any games in A & C World. 

    • http://twitter.com/LoriDanceDotCom Lori Dance

      I don’t know him that well, either, but I agree with you; I have seen him at many tournaments, cons, and A & C-sponsored events, and the ONLY time I ever saw him with a controller in his hand was when Marianne asked him to play so the camera dude could get “footage.”

  • James_narine

    There’s a trick some people use to get you to engage in activity while being interviewed or questioned to lower your sense of what you’re being asked.