By James Dominic Flores
Let’s say there are of two kinds of gamers: The first one grew up with their very own console; perhaps a Family Computer, Sega Genesis, SNES, or a Playstation. This gamer grew up enjoying their favorite games and playing them at the comfort of their own home with friends or family, oftentimes with food and chips, maybe even having sleepovers just to bond over games.
The second type never had a console, but had developed a love of games through PC shops playing games like Starcraft or Red Alert with friends, or Playstation rentals where they would pay twenty to thirty pesos for an hour of game time. Sometimes these gamers would also actively seek out mall arcades to sit down and play against other fellow gamers in a test of skill in games such as Street Fighter or Tekken.
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As technology advanced, the picture of a gamer evolved to that of someone who sat at home in front of their PC wearing a headset and playing online with their other friends. The internet has connected gamers far and wide.
This was a common sight for PC shops around 2012 and onwards. Even if you went into the computer shop alone, the technology allowed you to play with people across borders, finally free from the limits of local computer play. Arcades transitioned to focus on party games and karaoke booths as opposed to arcade cabinets.
Interestingly, shops that focused on renting out consoles still persevered, and beyond that, fostered a growing community of players which begs the question; if you can play online at the safety of your own home, why should you go out to meet fellow gamers and pay to play with others?
“There is always an extra layer of excitement knowing that your opponent is in close proximity. How will they react to your decisions? Do they feel the same excitement as you when something epic happens? There are have been countless memories shared by players over the years because of being physically together when playing a game” said Arthur James, “PBE. Dr.Jimmy” Malgapo, Team Manager of Playbook Esports.
Since 2014, PlayBook Video Game and Book Lounge operated as a center for players of different games and different ages to relax, have fun, and test their skills against other players. Nurturing local community growth, they have since branched out to the esports scene from signing strong Filipino players to represent them in tournaments to hosting internationally acclaimed tournaments for various games.
Being able to experience the thrills of gaming in close proximity to other people is consistent with a person’s desire to feel accepted and validated. The tendency of people to form relationships with those who are physically close to them is known as the proximity principle.
Psychologically, the opportunity to be close to people who share your passion can amplify positive feelings you have for both the person and the subject of your passion.
“Any arcade gamer will tell you that they've met lifelong friends because they went to gaming hubs regularly. I personally have met people who I mentor and who mentor me to this day. The mentoring is not just limited to in-game advice to improve but with life experiences both happy and sad,” said Dr. Jimmy.
Playbook in Makati, alongside other notable gaming hubs in the country like Secret Base in Marikina, Top Deck in Cagayan De Oro City, and Game Patch in Davao City have been a havens for gamers.
What can you do if there are no similar spots near you? Dr. Jimmy advises that you don’t always have to find computer rental places, and that you can start your community on your own if you are up for it.
“Be inclusive and welcoming of new players. Gather regularly and continue to find ways to make each other better," he said.
Whether you are all meeting together in a garage to play games with two of your friends or grow into a community. Certain schools have even embraced the community building with organizations such as the FEU Tekken Community.
Today, the heart of gaming lies beyond a screen that tells you that you have won, or one that says you have finished the game. Instead, it is found in our ability to share the fun stories and lessons we learn within it. Having an outlet to share your passion with like-minded people; whether these are you parents or siblings who taught you to play games, or a fellow competitor by your side is where the most heartfelt victories of gaming are won.
About the author: James Dominic Flores is Program Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences at San Sebastian College, specializing in psychology. He is also a competitive gamer specializing in fighting games.