by Lee Chin Wee (14A01B)
Alright, I’ll admit it – even as I’m writing this article, there is a tiny Football Manager 2012 icon nestled alluringly in my laptop’s toolbar, weakening my resolve to continue writing. An avid gamer for more than five years, I’ve learned how to effortlessly deflect my mum’s continual complaints (“Don’t worry ma, this is my last game, I promise.”) and to explain my working habits to countless group mates (“Chill out guys, I’m very efficient at multi-tasking!”). While the ills of gaming addiction should never be downplayed, I would like to think that my gaming exploits have actually enriched my student experience, rather than detracted from it.
With our school year packed to the brim with a myriad of activities such as inter-house competitions, CCA training and academic work, it may seem at first glance that the average Rafflesian struggles to find time to eat three square meals a day, let alone indulge in some video games. Raffles Press decided to conduct an informal survey amongst the Year 1-6 student population, to find out exactly how many hours a day are magically siphoned away by video games. Intriguingly, out of the 90 Rafflesians who were anonymously surveyed, slightly over half of them insisted that they played less than 10 hours of videos games a week (this includes computer games, console games and even games played on the mobile phone). Given that many psychological associations around the world tend to set the standard for gaming addiction at more than 24 hours of games played a week, most Rafflesians have nothing to fear going by the survey results.
No article on video gaming would truly feel complete, however, without at least a tokenistic mention of the dangers of video gaming addiction. On the other end of the spectrum, 1 in 10 Rafflesians surveyed admitted to spending over 30 hours a week gaming, meaning that they clock in more than 5 hours of solid gaming a day. To be absolutely honest, I’ve had my fair share of bizarre gaming addiction moments over the last 5 years. I remember carting my ridiculously heavy laptop into class in Year 2, just so I could harvest Tiberium in between EOY examinations. Needless to say, I barely passed Math that year. Although video gaming can be part and parcel of a healthy student life, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t affect one’s other commitments. If you happen to be that student councillor who is in two Science RAs, while playing school team rugby, you may want to reconsider how much leveling up that elven mage really matters to you.
Out of the 16 Rafflesians who voluntarily identified themselves in the survey, it was interesting that 4 out of 16 were female. Given that the tiny sample size of 16 is makes it almost impossible to draw any conclusions from the results, it does however go to show that gaming isn’t solely an all-male domain. A Year 6 girl, who preferred to remain anonymous shared, “”I play DC Universe Online (an MMORPG*) regularly, and sometimes I manage to convince my boyfriend to let me play some of the games on his computer. Unfortunately, I don’t know many girls who are avid gamers. I think it’s a safe bet to say that most girls don’t game, and a lot of them may actually have negative impressions about gaming.” While it is great that there are a few Rafflesian girls who game in RI, it does seem that many girls steer clear of video gaming for a myriad of reasons.
Some Rafflesians were also quick to point out that they kept their gaming time to a bare minimum. Said Bradley Yam (14A01C), “I find that gaming is inherently an exercise of pleasure – the feeling of beating odds and completing challenges. I don’t game because I find joy and meaning elsewhere, in activities such as sports. However, I do enjoy the social aspect of gaming so if you asked me out to LAN, I would be happy to oblige.”
Video gaming may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but our stellar academic results and stunning sporting achievements are not the only “peaks of excellence” which Rafflesians can be proud of. Just last year, two teams from RI (Year 1-4) NCC competed in the National Education Gaming Championships, which required participants to duke it out in a modified first-person shooter game used by the SAF to train its soldiers on basic tactics. RI Team 1 eventually placed overall 4th, beating over 120 other teams in the competition. Jian Hui (14SO3F), one of the members of RI Team 1, said: “It was really quite a cool experience for all of us as a team because RI guys hardly have time to game during the school term, never mind getting to skip class to play games.”
Multiplayer Online Battle Areans (MOBAs) are highly popular amongst Rafflesians, with some in our midst excelling in the competitive scene. A Rafflesian gamer who would rather go by his online pseudonym “Delta Kaizer” shared that he used to play more than 30 hours of League of Legends (LoL, a popular online game) every week during the school holidays. A highly accomplished, Gold-ranked player with over 1,400 wins in the game, he also noted that he has more than halved his gaming time ever since the school term began, playing less than 10 hours a week as a result. Another Rafflesian, who would also rather remain anonymous, plays LoL as part of an all-Rafflesian ranked team named the “Pokebots”. The Pokebots are one of the top 10 teams in Singapore, once reaching the final of a clan tournament against a team called Flash, which would later become Singapore’s best competitive LoL team, SGS. Along the way, the team beat many top players such as a current player for SGS, no mean feat especially considering that the Pokebots are tied down with numerous work and CCA commitments.
Of course, most of us just don’t have the steely determination and natural gaming talent to be top gamers. Wasting time away on the long train ride home scoring virtual hat-tricks on your iPhone, or spending a few hours a week clearing out a bandit-infested dungeon can be more than enough to take one’s mind of that pesky math assignment he or she has no idea how to complete. In the stressful Rafflesian life, gaming can be a great activity to break the numbing monotony of countless Chemistry tutorials. After all, there’s only so much you can take in about the periodic table in one day before collapsing into a twitching heap. At the end of the day, there’s really no reason why video gaming should not be treated just like another activity Rafflesians engage in in their spare time. It sometimes pays to turn study mode off, and just game on.
*Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
With additional reporting by Kylie Wong (14A01B)