Video gaming should not be the scapegoat for death of British gamer


It’s no secret that the mainstream media circles like sharks around any news regarding the video gaming industry.  Ignoring easily found industry stats that show the average age of a video gamer is 37 years old, most video gaming stories seem to focus on children, the smallest demographic of the industry today.   Ignoring the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings system and it’s proven track record, most video gaming stories seem to insist that the latest hit Rated M video game is being purchased by droves of children, all of whom will grow up to be criminals and violent souls.

This was evident shortly after the Supreme Court shot down California’s law which would have criminalized sales of Rated M games to children.  Many headlines and stories were worded to make it sound as if 8 year olds could now rush out and purchase Mortal Kombat without anything to stop them.  It’s been evident at other times this year as well, with some stories claiming that games like Bulletstorm and Duke Nukem Forever could bring down the moral standard of society or something.

The newest mainstream media event regarding video gaming is the story of 20-year-old British gamer Chris Staniforth.  A fan of the XBox 360 console, Staniforth died from deep vein thrombosis, a condition that can be caused by sitting or laying down in a cramped position for long periods of time.

Right away, news stories from a variety of sources came to be, with headlines reading “XBox Gamer Dies of Blood Clot After Marathon Session” (Fox News), “XBox Addict Killed By Blood Clot” (Yahoo!), and “Playing Video Games Without A Break Could Kill You” (MSNBC).

Sure enough, the mainstream press is latching onto this one, focusing not on the fact that Staniforth didn’t take breaks or stretch periodically, but instead focusing on the fact that he was a video gamer who played long sessions at a time.

Video gaming didn’t kill young Staniforth, folks.  His own lack of activity did.  He could have been an employee in a computer cubical for 40 hours a week that ate lunch at his desk.  He could have been a person that travelled a lot, sitting for those long hours in planes and cars.  He could have been sitting around watching a Harry Potter movie marathon, collecting stamps or watching paint dry.

DVT hits hundreds of thousands of people a year from all walks of life and all ages.  Yes, there are fatal cases there as well.  I really have to wonder if this young man was a movie critic or a bus driver if there would be near as many headlines.

Yes, Staniforth’s death is tragic.  It’s serious and sad news.  But how about a little journalistic integrity every once in a while, something that puts the focus on his lack of activity instead of his entertainment choices?   This is not a video game story, mainstream media, it’s an exercise, activity and health story.   Reporting it as anything other than that is irresponsible and ignorant.

Extra special thanks to Fox News, who put the words “gamer” and “gaming” in quotation marks in their version of the story, as if those were some kind of oddball terms.  As a result, this writer and “gamer” for 30 years will refer to them as Fox “News” going forward each and every time I note something written by one of their “journalists” or “reporters”.

Some good might come of the story if it makes others aware of how important activity of any kind is during their work or entertainment time.  Sadly, thus far, most reports (excuse me, “reports”) wish to focus on the whole “video games could kill you” angle instead.

Remember to get up and take some breaks, “gamers”… and computer techs… and taxi drivers… and airline passengers… and everyone else.  The activity is important during ANY and ALL tasks.

Brain Blackout: The war against the Media

cable news

I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine. I was trying to explain to him how Santa Claus was not real. I told him it was impossible for a man to deliver all those presents in one night and had proof that his parents had bought him those Charismas presents. He did not want to hear it, sticking his fingers in his ears he closed his eyes and started repeating; “I’m not listening!”

I was ten and he was six. A reaction like that would look pretty silly as an adult, but the way some people rally against the media and the internet, it isn’t far off. Sure, there is a lot of miss information out there and the truth is our news today is much less true journalism and much more reality television. With that said however, the idea some people have of tuning out news altogether, to me at least, is much more sinister than just avoiding trashy programming.

I like watching programs about slavery times and the period of Jim Crow. For me, I like to see how people reacted in both historically accurate recounts of those times and the social commentary in faction during that time period. A friend once asked me why I watched that stuff all the time, why do I read blogs from people who are clearly racist and hateful. My answer was, I read and I watch so I can learn and understand from all angles. I believe it gives me a better perspective and increases my knowledge on the subject.

Recently the trend for some is to scream at the top of their lungs that the media is bad. There are some out there that would have you tune out to it all. The television is bias, the internet is full of lies and evil, and the books are written by socialists. Pretty much they are asking you to either get all your information from them, because they are the only ones who are telling the truth, or that you remain ignorant and allow others to tell you what you need to know.

As far as I am concerned this is another form of book burning. If you can convince someone that everything they read, watch and listen to is bad, then that will severely limit their sources to educate themselves. What you will be left with is a large portion of American’s who when you try to explain why what they heard from their one source is wrong, they will put their fingers in their ears, closes their eyes and say; “I’m not listening!”

Everyone knows knowledge is power; it is why it was once illegal to teach the slaves. In the past many communities would shun anyone who tried to educate the people and science was nothing but the devils lies. This kept the people closed minded and out of touch which allowed their message to be the only one heard.

There are people out there today who still believe Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. There are people who believe President Obama was not born in America and if you try to educate them and show them proof they have, to them, the perfect defense. “The mass media is full of lies!”

I believe my life has been enriched because I spent a lot of time with different cultures. I learned from different people with different beliefs and ideas. Even when reading the blog of a self-professed racist I can learn something that can be useful. If nothing else, I am exposing myself to different views, which I believe, is an excellent way to educate one’s self.

Unfortunately, with all the progress we have made with technology and the ability to access information and education in seconds, there are some who are turning away because they believe the information out there is false and detrimental to them.

Perhaps life is easier that way. Often it is simpler to not explain your beliefs to others. What you think is right, is right, and no one can tell you otherwise. Just like many of our parents use to say; it is because I said so, or, that is just the way it is.

That is not good enough for me. Yes, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. There is bias on the television and lies on the radio, but for me to close myself off because of those truths would be detrimental to what I want in life, to learn, to explore and to understand. I refuse to turn off and turn out. I will listen even if I do not agree because I may still learn something. The worst question is the one that is not asked and the best answers are useless if there is no one to hear them.

Dear Dish Network


Dear Dish Network,

Hello. I am not a customer nor do I ever plan to be. Do you want to know why? It is not because your channel lineup sucks and you have less HD channels than local television, it is because of the event I am about to describe.

August 12th – I was sitting down for my weekday dinner which consists of a quarter cup of white rice and two turkey sausages (I am poor and on a diet). My plan was to spend the rest of the night watching television falling asleep to the sweet, sweet sound of Keith Olbermann’s voice. Just as I was taking the first of many unsatisfying bites there was a loud pounding at my door. At first being an African-American, I believed the pounding was the police at my door, but then I realized they would not have bothered to knock.

Setting my bowl to the side I opened the door and a man began speaking to me in Spanish (I live in Miami Florida). I stare at him hoping to scare him away but it does not work. He then began speaking in horribly broken English asking me if I have satellite service. Now while it was getting dark my apartment has a small patio with bright lights shining on a very large dish. You would have to be blind and stupid not to see it. Again I stare at the man bewildered taking a moment to point my eyes towards the dish; he still did not get the hint.

I tell the man I have Direct TV, the best in satellite service, and was about to close the door when he asks am I happy. Am I happy? Let’s see, I am on a diet that sucks ass, I work out everyday just to lose half a pound a week, I have no girlfriend, and my career is going nowhere. So now on a Friday night when I should be out getting tail I am sitting home alone in my shoe box apartment eating bland food only to be interrupted by a man just off the banana-boat asking me if I am happy. I told the man I was very happy.

He proceeded to try to explain to me that he could offer me a better deal. Now maybe I would have listened but my awful food was getting cold plus the mosquitoes were getting in. I told the man I have a ten year contract with Direct TV and if I try to leave they will cut my balls off. I smiled and closed the door and immediately went crying to my bedroom.

About a week later I see my next door neighbor is having a satellite dish put in. I also see the same man installing it. This would not have been an issue except he was installing it on my patio fence. Now I could have complained but I like my neighbors to the extent that if someone was trying to kill me I would hope they would at least dial 911. Because of this I kept quiet and accepted the dish trespassing.

A few hours later I left for the weekend as a storm was coming and I am deathly afraid of rain and lighting. When I returned Monday I found that my satellite service was off. The receiver kept saying searching for a satellite signal. I went and looked at the dish and the wires and found nothing though I admit I wasn’t sure what to look for. Then I called Direct TV and they told me that due to the storm they could not get anyone to me until September 26th. That was over a month later.

Needless to say I was livid. I yelled and screamed and cursed and then unmated the phone because the lady thought I hung up. I begged and pleaded and cried and in the end they told me to suck it up and take it. Now I was about to cancel because I can’t go a day without watching the liberal media and considered calling Dish Network, but then Direct TV offered me three free months of service and a free HDDVR. While deciding what to do I also found out you can watch Countdown on the MSNBC website. It was decided; I would tuff it out and wait until the end of the next month.

Fast forward to September 26th, it was hard and boring but I was able to make it and now I was hours away from having my television back. So the Direct TV guy comes and he speaks great English and goes to work on installing my HDDVR. Then he comes in with a weird look on his face and what he asks me changed my life forever.

“Did you have a Dish Network guy come around here recently?”

The question didn’t make sense. Why would he ask that? I told him yes and asked him why. He smiled and motioned for me to follow him out the door. He then pointed out to me that the cable from my dish to my receiver was cut and it wasn’t an accident. It was high up on the fence and it was cut in a way that unless I physically pulled the wire I would not know it was cut. This was done by an evil, evil godless man who wanted nothing more than to destroy my life.

The Direct TV man told me that this happens sometimes. The Dish Network or Cable guys will come by and offer their services and if you turn them down sabotage your system. He told me to be on the lookout and gave me his personal number to call if it happened again. I would have kissed him if he didn’t look like he would punch me in the face if I did so. I shook his hand and thanked him and ran inside to my bedroom to cry.

Now I am sitting here writing this letter to you to say I hope you die in a fire and then continue burning in that fire once you reach hell. While I got to see my lovely Keith Olbermann on my computer there is no substitute to my 51 inch screen. I feel as if you took a month of my life away and I want it back. I am not sure what to ask for but I would accept the thumbs of the man who did this to me. What will I do if you don’t comply? Nothing, I am too much of a bitch to do anything but write letters during my lunch time at work. I just want you to know you have made a grown man cry…more often than I normally do. You have hurt me more than my prom date that ended up making out with the school janitor. I want you to know I signed a lifetime contract with Direct TV and will tell all my imaginary friends never to order from your company.

Lord Obama will smite you

Fictitiously yours,

J.A. Laraque