First off, I would like to say this to our older population in Africa. Just because we go play games at a game center does not make us all thieves.
In Ghana, the term ‘game center has always been associated with a look of disgust, a negative reaction and a warning to children who decided to spend their time playing games and not studying. I have been the typical indoor kind of girl since birth. Playing with the children outside was never fun for me both mentally and physically because of a few health issues. I grew up playing with jigsaw puzzles, Mario and Scrabble.
It wasn’t until the age of 8 or 9 when making friends became a priority. I learned from my new friends that there was a place in the neighborhood where all the kids went to play Mario, Mortal Kombat and other video games all for a few Ghanaian cedis per hour. I was ecstatic. When my mum returned from work later in the day, I went to seek permission to join the other kids the next day to join them at the game center. Her response?
A loud resounding NO!
Why? I was given up to 3 reasons why a I shouldn’t associate myself with the ‘game center kids’
1. They ended up becoming thieves. According to her, children who kept visiting the center ended up stealing money from their parents when they were not given the amount to play games.
2. There was nothing beneficial in playing games. At the time, Esports wasn’t a popular term. The African parent only classified a successful child to be one who decided to study and end up either being a doctor, lawyer and engineer, everything else meant you were a disgrace to your family.
3. Suspicious activities happened there and the police could raid at anytime. At the time, the game center had been raided before. Mum said it was because the people there had suspicious behaviors and were involved in illegal dealings.
I wasn’t much of a pleaser at the time but I wanted to always make my mum happy. So I quit playing all forms of video games.
Even though now, many are exposing the real truths of gaming and how beneficial they have and can be, I still have that innate fear of going to game centers. Until a few years ago, no matter how much I would want to watch players compete, I have to resort to watching international matches or those streamed online when they are played in Ghana.
Just about 2 months ago, on my way home, I heard a mother vehemently reprimanding her son for going to a game center in the neighborhood to watch others play. This is where I realized, the prejudice against gamers still exists in our community.
I believe it’s time the Esports associations take a stand to educate our community and do away with this prejudice against gaming, gamers and game centers. After all, in this age where everyone who owns a phone has a type of game they play on their phones, gaming shouldn’t still be frowned upon like it was in the past.
So do you play games? On your phone or in your home? You are still a gamer just not at a professional level. It’s time we also cash in on the trend. It’s time for Ghana to take a stand and go professional. Are you with me?
Written by Lillian Bella Cross