Internet gaming has been such a big a hit since the last decade. Our group decided to choose this topic in order to find out the reasons why a lot of people are getting so addicted in these online video games. We went to Blue Skies at Katipunan to observe people playing Dota, Hon and Lol which according to our informant were part of a genre of gaming called MOBA or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or RTS which stands for Real Time Strategy. These are the most played games in internet cafes here in the Philippines. In these games, there are usually two teams of five each, battling it out to destroy each respective team’s bases. Each player controls one “hero”, and along with that they have AI or artificial intelligence bots which are called “creeps”. The point of the game is to destroy one tower in the middle of each team’s bases, which will be protected by the creeps, attacking towers and of course the “heroes” or the characters that the human players control. They can do this by amassing wealth by “last hitting” the creeps which will earn them gold, by killing other heroes, by destroying towers and by “farming” which is the strategy to earn more gold so that they could by equipment to make them stronger. There are several roles in the game, like “tanks” who have huge health so that they could take massive amounts of damage, “gankers” who roam around killing other heroes hoping that the other teams cannot farm easily, “carries” who farm all game and come out only when they have complete equipment so that they could easily kill the other heroes and “support” heroes who basically just have several skills that can help win a “clash”. A clash is when both teams battle it out and the team who gets wiped out cannot defend their base from the remaining heroes from the other team.
The first thing we noticed was that outside of Blue Skies, there were already several cars parked, and that for me corrected my notion that people who play in internet cafes are usually not that well off. Blue Skies is a two-storey internet cafe, but both floors were full. The main station is located in the first floor where you could ask for credit so that you could play. The man there was not particularly friendly to us, maybe because we seemed like outsiders to him. He personally knows some of the customers there since they were calling him on a first name basis. In the second floor were more computers and the smoking room, where we did not really last even if we were both smokers because there was no circulation at all. The players there were stuck inside a room literally filled with smoke and up to know I still do not know how they can survive playing for hours there. Inside, you could hear the ensemble of several different games being played, and people who were talking so loud giving orders to their teammates and some were even talking trash. We also noticed that there were different groups of people inside the shop. First of all were the players, at the back of their seats were their friends watching and cheering for their team. There were also a couple of bystanders who we thought were people waiting for some players to finish but later on we learned from our informant that these people go to the computer shop just to watch or bet on different teams. Some even spend their whole day just goofing around the computer shop, watching different games. We learned then that there are also people who enjoy these games just by simply watching and betting on teams.
We felt out of place in the activity because we were not particularly familiar with the games being played there. Plus people there seemed to know each other very well. Watching people play Dota was not particularly entertaining because like we said we were clueless. People were cheering while we were standing there trying to figure out what was happening. We also talked about how we felt intimidated by other people there because they looked “mayabang” especially the people in the second floor who were smoking. They gave this certain look that felt like they were wondering why “new people” were going there. Our informant though reassured us that fights do not really happen in that internet cafe, because people are too busy playing or watching. He told us that since the shop has been there for more than a decade already, he knew most of the people there. The same customers who were playing there since their high school years and continued playing in the same place even after college have already formed their own groups inside the shop. In learning about this, I realized that even in computer shops, there are people who build small groups which are made up of members who are ranked according to their skills and roles specified above (gankers, tanks, etc.) in playing the games. In seasons of big tournaments between different computer shops, these small barkadas merge into a bigger group of gamers which then represents “Blue Skies”. We saw that a computer shop weren’t only made of individual gamers, they were actually a “small community” or a family even outside the shop. Although it was also weird to see that people there could last for a whole day, because we could not picture ourselves doing the same thing. We were both console gamers at home, and we both agreed that playing for a whole day just seems impossible to us. For us, these people are the hardcore gamers while we were just casual gamers.
When it was finally our turn to play, we both felt embarrassed because our informant kept on teaching us while we were playing, and it was no easy task. He kept on saying unfamiliar terms and that alone pressured both of us. Moreover, I personally had this feeling that the people who were watching were laughing at us or talking behind our backs because it is probably unusual for them to see newbies playing games like that. We ended up dying a lot, since our friends took advantage of the fact that we were newbies. Around twenty minutes into the game, I did not want to continue any longer but the informant told me that the game usually lasts around forty minutes, so we were only half way through the game. There were moments when I literally just put my hero in dangerous spots so that I could die and just watch. After the game, we both felt stressed out and embarrassed, but good thing our informant assured us that it really takes a while to get to master the game and play like them.
People there were generally oblivious to our presence when we were not playing yet, and they were merely focusing on their games. The other bystanders though would give a quick glance to look at other bystanders, or probably they were just looking for seats. When we were already playing, as we said earlier people would talk behind our backs and sometimes giggle when we did foolish things. It was really annoying and it made me feel really conscious. I didn’t want to go back anytime soon. It was better to watch people play than to play itself because you were invisible as a bystander.
1. By participating, we felt how it was to be watched by the bystanders who were way better than us, criticizing our fail moments while playing. It was really tough to learn how to play Dota while you know that behind you people are making fun of you. By observing, there’s really no pressure since all you have to do is watch and by watching you get to blend in with the other bystanders.
2. Having a key informant somehow made us feel more comfortable there. Being with someone who you know is a regular in that internet cafe reassures you that you’ll probably have an easier time blending in. Also, he taught us how to play while he was playing with us, so he made learning the game a little bit easier for us.
3. If a questionnaire or an interview was conducted to find out what was happening at a certain place, or in learning what people actually do in a specific activity, the interviewer might be throwing the wrong questions. Based on our experience in the computer shop, if we weren’t able to find out how it felt inside the place, we would probably be posing a different set of questions. Also, the main advantage of participant-observation would be the learning through experience the observers would have in doing the same things that their subjects are doing. In using PO, we were able to feel what it was like to be part of the “culture” of the people who were regularly there.
4. One main advantage that may be gained from conducting interviews that may not be done in PO is the recording of the interviewee’s exact words. Another advantage of interviews over PO is the clarification of the answer when the interview gives an incomplete or ambiguous response. One advantage of using questionnaires over PO is being able to ask a large group of people of the same group. Another is being able to ask questions about a sensitive topic because some people are uncomfortable in talking about certain topics in person. (Ex. Sex)
J.C. Alexis C. Bairan
Nicolo Miguel Bolinao
SA 21 : Y