Fake news: Misinformation in the local scene

7 min read
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The phenomenon of fake news has only recently been given a tremendous spotlight and taken seriously on a mainstream level. It went from source-less Facebook posts to unverified tweets that went viral to the current level where fake news is now an entire profit-generating industry.

There will doubtless be academically rigorous papers written about the rise of fake news and what contributed to its ascension, but for the most part a severe lack of critical thinking and the power of echo chambers seem likely culprits.

You may think fake news is a full length article that spreads lies, but that is not the full picture. It can be argued that fake news starts with people spreading misinformation, deliberate or not, which lays the foundation for full length pieces. With that thinking, misinformation at a comment level is already fake news. This is where the problem begins.

Fake News In Our Own Backyard

South Africa, and more specifically the local gaming scene, is not immune to this phenomenon of fake news. I’ve often covered topics around the importance of diversity and representation in the local scene. Just as often, I’ve been met with resistance around what I’m saying.

I’m often told that the lack of diversity in the local scene is due to cultural differences that leads to gamers of colour not playing as much as their white counterparts. One comment went so far as to bring in made up ancestral influences leading to gamers of colour not being comfortable playing games.

Differing interests is another reason cited to explain why gamers of colour and women are not often seen in the local scene. Add to that, income inequality and apparently this accounts for why the scene is predominantly white and male. The takeaway from it all seems to be, this is just the way things are naturally.

Last week Nicholas Hall, former chair and founding member of Make Games SA, revealed some important statistics in a Twitter thread. Read it for yourself:

The key takeaways from the thread are as follows:

  • 78% of PC and Console gamers in the country are black
  • 44% of PC/Console gamers (or mid-hard core if you prefer those numbers) are women
  • PoC are far less likely to play online, which is due to not having decent internet penetration rather than not having access to PC/Console
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The thread was the result of Nicholas reacting to the same views I faced in many of my articles. People perpetuating incorrect, but ultimately comforting, views as fact – the very thing fake news does currently. I’ve spoken to Nicholas directly and whilst the source of these statistics cannot be made public just yet, the sources are credible. There will hopefully be a follow up article once he’s able to make these statistics available.

The Danger of Fake News And The Harm It Causes

The danger of fake news has been largely ignored, given that it was initially limited to people publicly naming and shaming brands and random people on social media. Since it seemingly affected the US elections, to some degree, it has been given a more serious analysis.

Aside from the reasonably significant influence fake news had on a global power’s democratic elections, fake news also damages society by perpetuating a harmful viewpoint through misinformation.

This is evident locally in the constant narrative being told that people of colour and women just don’t play games as much as white men. This is a dangerous narrative that only serves to perpetuate the unhealthy status quo.

Never mind that this narrative reinforces an unhealthy landscape, misinformation also leads to actively holding back growth in the scene. Whilst many in the scene are championing for minorities, be it gamers of colour, women, LGBTQ, disabled and more, they often come up against resistance that relies on false narratives to justify their actions.

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Challenging progressive views based on misinformation harms the growth of the industry. People are out here telling real stories and raising valid points and they are shutdown by people quoting incorrect facts. It’s a lazy cop out that allows people to avoid dealing with the real issues in the local scene.

Defeating Fake News And Taking The Scene Further

Africa is a continent renowned for its lack of accurate data, when it comes to anything important. Even in South Africa, we can’t agree with the government on what the real unemployment rate is. In the local gaming scene, the scarcity of real data is even worse. We need more research done in the scene, like the one undertaken by Nicholas and co.

The local scene also needs to stop perpetuating misinformation and wake up to the facts. In a country that is predominantly non-white, pretending that the gaming scene is naturally majority white makes no sense, and the statistics prove that.

An issue that is given less of a spotlight, but often rears its head in arguments, is this idea that anecdotal evidence on its own is significant. To those of you guilty of this thinking, it is not. Ever.

Fake news thrives on this mentality, where people have anecdotal evidence and then begin to search online for the first article that verifies it as truth. This is where a lack of critical thinking is exposed, as the source is not questioned nor is an opposing view researched to provide an argument.

The future is bright for SA gaming, and based on the growing number of people attending events, local gaming YouTubers, competitive teams and more, the scene is looking healthy. Despite this, let’s remember that fake news has harmed many positive projects globally. Let’s not let our local scene be another victim to fake news and misinformation.

Last Updated: January 24, 2017

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Glenn Kisela

I've always loved video games as well as writing, so mixing the two together was inevitable. When I'm not doing that, I do photography and design.

  • konfab

    If those statistics are accurate, it means that gamers in this country apparently don’t particularly care about not being able to play as a carbon copy of themselves in games.

    Who would have thought that people care more about game mechanics than what gender the orc you are trying to kill identifies as.

    • A+

    • Magoo

      Can confirm. For some strange reason, I always pick a lady character if I am allowed to choose. Spoiler: I am not a lady character in real life.

      • miaau

        yeah, me too. On both counts.

      • To be honest, people get annoyed these days if you assume their gender based on their physical assets and appearance.

        So why should the fact that you represent a female character in games be anything other than completely acceptable?

      • Sageville

        Same here, it’s called “Escapism” for a reason…

  • PurplePariah

    Excellent article as always.

    I don’t know where the team found you, but you know how in every band of misfits there’s that one really smart one? Yeah that’s you.

  • Admiral Chief

    In other news, Darryn is pregnant

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      I didn’t do it!

      • Admiral Chief

        I didn’t say you did, your denial is quite interesting
        [makes notes]

        • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

          You have nothing on me!

  • Admiral Chief

    This just in, Geoff running for Emperor of South Africa

    • MonsterCheddar

      And changing the name to Little China.

      • Prefer little Tokyo cause then he can call himself Big Trouble.

        • MonsterCheddar

          ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^What he said

  • MonsterCheddar

    Very good article. The media unfortunately only shares sensational news rather than accurate news. The big problem is the normal guy in the street perceives this as being correct, where in fact it is not. A stupid example is that CNN took photographs of the inauguration site a few hours before it started and made the world believe that was the turn out, which I saw today was false, there were thousands (this is now, if whatever I saw wasn’t false). You never know who to believe. I always take everything with a pinch of salt because the media will ALWAYS lie to you if it is in their interest. Luckily you guys keep it straight up.

    • Admiral Chief

      Breaking news: Researchers determine that cheese is bad for you

      • MonsterCheddar

        LOL

  • MonsterCheddar

    Admiral was born a woman.

    • Admiral Chief

      +from

    • Hammersteyn

      No, that’s his final form

      • Admiral Chief

        #TRIGGERED

        • Hammersteyn

          XD

  • I could not give a crap if you are white black asian or female. If you like Mass Effect you are a true gamer.

    Also PC!
    (thats Master Race not the other PC).

    • konfab

      True gamers know that shooting Mordin is the correct thing to do >:3

      • miaau

        Mordin? Mordin? Shootin Udina, now that was almost literally the most satisfaction in any game, popping him one in ME3.

        but Mordin?

        • konfab

          Yes. It shows that your Shep is willing to place the good of the galaxy above their friendship.

          • miaau

            Wait? What? How? Friendship with who?

            Very sad when Mordin does not make it.

          • Admiral Chief

            MORDIN DIES??????

            GAAAH!

        • Dresden

          I could never do that!
          I already felt like garbage for lying to him once in front of the others in the Mako.

          • miaau

            NO lies. Cure the Krogan.

            AND, in my play last night, choose the Geth over the Quarians. Quarians did not have the moral high ground. And Tali died randomly in ME2.

          • Matthew Holliday

            No perfect playthrough? couldnt save them both?
            DOES THIS UNIT EVEN HAVE A SOUL?

          • miaau

            My first play of ME2 and ME3, I saved both.

            This time, re-play on Xbox One, I decided from the start that the chips fall where they may, no reloading. Bit disappointed, did all the quests correctly in ME2, seems there is always a chance someone can die.

            BUT: did not restart end scene, had to keep it. And then from that point on, the arrogant quarians were doomed.

          • Dresden

            I lied because I wanted to fool Dalatrass Linron and I was scared the crew or someone would rat me out if I told Mordin in front of them.
            As soon as we reach the base of the shroud I told him. He sort of understood.
            For me, that scene is probably of of the saddest parts of the game. He was probably my favorite crew member and I built a long friendship with him, even if he was a bit kooky at times.

            As for the Quarian/ Geth situation, I got them to ally I think. Went the full Paragon route and it irks me when I can’t get the perfect situation.

          • Dresden

            Though I will replay it again in the near future and I feel then I will let the “chips fall where they may” to see how events will play out.

      • You just wounded me sir!

        • konfab

          That would make it…a Critical Hit.

          (•_•)
          ( •_•)>⌐■-■
          (⌐■_■)

          • Admiral Chief

            ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • GooseZA

      Not long now! AANNDDRROOMMEEDDAAAA

  • MonsterCheddar

    This just in Hammer is really a Spanner.

    • Hammersteyn

      Hmmmm that could be conceivable

  • Sageville

    The term “Fake news” is relatively new, I’m still coming to grasps with it at the moment. On twitter I see fake news as a parody account that imitates a reliable news source and pushes it’s fake content…

    This local fake news you speak of sounds more like just narrow opinions on comment’s sections or social media… does that still count as fake news?

    I guess I’m also asking if there are local gaming news sites (parody or not) pushing fake content?

    • I don’t want to name names but a certain news site owned by a certain ISP can bend the truth quite a bit.

    • Magoo

      I believe the article is about how widespread misconceptions act as “fake news” in the big picture, because everything that is written or read is done so with said misconceptions in mind.

      • Sageville

        Gotcha!

  • MonsterCheddar

    Breaking News: Otto Loves The Division, Buys Season Pass.

    • Also denounces ponies and burns whole MLP collection.

  • MonsterCheddar

    JJ got his eyebrows trimmed.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Kromas’ Xbox Fetish, the inside story. Says he is living a lie.

    • The real reason they called it the Xbone! 😛

      • Hammersteyn

        Makes too much sense!

  • Dresden

    What if this article about fake news is actually fake news and it’s goal is to misinform us about the misinformation in the local scene!
    O.O/

    • MonsterCheddar

      O_o

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      fake news * fake news = real news. It’s maths! 😀

    • Admiral Chief

      MADNESS

    • Fox1 – Retro

      My thoughts exactly because the source has not been named. Thankfully there is a promised follow up article.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Critical thinking? Who’s got time for that?! So much more convenient to accept the easiest answer that fits your preconceptions.

    • MonsterCheddar

      Trevor’s new fascination with glitter makes him feel 45 again.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        That’s what Salusa 45 is for.

    • konfab

      Preconceptions are the things that allow us to filter out garbage.

      Would you bother applying critical thinking to an article that stated they have evidence that the earth is flat.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Nice try, but that’s a stupid analogy because it applies to people who believe the world is flat as well.

        • konfab

          So it is a bad analogy because their preconceptions are wrong, and yours are right?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I never said bad, I said stupid. The earth either is flat, or it isn’t. It can’t be both, therefore someone is wrong. I also never said I was right or they were wrong.

          • Hammersteyn

            I believe that people with flat heads believe in the flat Earth theory

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I bet they have get togethers on top of Table Mountain.

          • Hammersteyn

            ROFL!

          • Admiral Chief

            Amen

          • Grimsupanoob

            Bah Humbug… Prove that the earth is round… Nasa all use fake images that Disney generate for them. Also Pineapple is disgusting on Pizza, and No man’s sky was an entertaining game…Trolololol

            But seriously, Pineapple is disgusting

      • PurplePariah

        Yes. So that I can tell them exactly how they’re wrong, without any facts to back up my side, and then proceed to insult everyone who argues.

        This is the internet, after all.

        • Deceased

          ^ This guy gets it 😛

  • Hammersteyn

    @MonsterCheddar:disqus in nasty break up, claims he’s forever provolone

    • MonsterCheddar

      ROFL

    • PurplePariah

      Team. I know I just roasted everyone who isn’t Glenn, but please make this comment of the week. It’s Tuesday, so by Friday it should be well aged and ready to consume.

      • Hammersteyn

        XD

      • Admiral Chief

        Forever provolone, that is pure golden blissful reading right there.

        You have my vote

    • MonsterCheddar

      Damn I will have to change my nickname

  • MonsterCheddar

    Muffjoe blames Paris for his Porra in Paris articles being cut short after being detained for suspicious looking hair do.

    • Magoo

      Then sues self for defamation of nationality

  • MonsterCheddar

    Raptor falls for Iguana.

  • “PoC are far less likely to play online, which is due to not having
    decent internet penetration rather than not having access to PC/Console”

    This line though lol, think it connection but penetration works also

    Good read though, being a Coloured I know most of my friends play games as much as I do but they mostly cant play online because of the shitty infrastructure when it comes to online play, of my Coloured friends, only four of them have decent enough internet to actually play online, which is weird considering how much of them there is

    • konfab

      Penetration always works…
      ( ͡º ͜ʖ ͡º)

      • Admiral Chief

        ☚ (<‿<)☚

      • Original Heretic

        Oh good! I’m not the only one who got stuck on the term “internet penetration”. It just sounds digital dirty.

        • miaau

          you are not supposed to get stuck……

          • Original Heretic

            I do lots of things I’m not supposed to do.

    • miaau

      Yeah, we really, really need decent internet infrastructure EVERYWHERE people live in SA. Really. I live in an old suburb near-ish Pretoria Union buildings and only 2 years did we get ADSL greater than 2mb/s and even that I could not play online, latency was terrible to EXCHANGE.

      Got a upgrade about two years ago, maybe three now, and it all works out, with ADSL.

      EDIT* you know what pisses me off, Aries: I bet your friends pay the same for their crapppy internet line rentals as I do for my nice and fast link, cause my exchange is shiny and new.

      • Im still on 2mb/s, but my latency about 12ms on average, though 4mb is the most for my area, I am actually on a 4mb but never once saw anything near that speed, being complaining for months now, telkom are a bunch on idiots stacked on top of each other, hard to get through the thick heads most of the time

        • Admiral Chief

          Telkom FINALLY made it to my house today (line fooooked since the 8th)

          Still not working though…

          • I had that problem in the beginning when they started upgrading took them over a year to fix, so good luck with them

          • Admiral Chief

            Confirmed, running at 4mb again!

  • Okay here’s the thing.

    Nick says:
    “78% of PC and Console gamers in the country are black
    44% of PC/Console gamers (or mid-hard core if you prefer those numbers) are women
    PoC are far less likely to play online, which is due to not having decent
    internet penetration rather than not having access to PC/Console”

    And then you say:
    “This is evident locally in the constant narrative being told that people
    of colour and women just don’t play games as much as white men. This is
    a dangerous narrative that only serves to perpetuate the unhealthy
    status quo.”

    To which I reply (assuming that “black” means “not white” in this case):

    I have never been told, by any white or other person, that gaming is majority white. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, of course. However based on what you said above,

    1. The majority of ONLINE GAMERS are in fact white (although I know my fair share of non-white folks online as well, I’m one of them after all)

    2. The ratio of total population to gamers (gamers per capita?) seems more or less 1:1 in terms of racial census, ie. the black majority of total population are the black majority of gamers. If my maths serves me, the ratio of total population percentage that play games actually seems higher for white gamers
    3. If these stats are credible, and I’d love to find out how they were collected, you’ve essentially disproved a few assertions made by popular sites (let’s not mention names because I have neither the time nor patience to go digging for sources right now) that gaming is primarily white and PoC do not play games – in other words, you’ve proven that they have previously misinformed us.

    To go even further on point 3, given that PoC and women are already playing games, are there stats on what games they are playing as well? And could we finally put to bed the alleged representation problem that gaming has, if we can take a look at the stats and see what’s being played? I’d love to actually speak to @nickhallsa and you about this in further detail.

    Any idea of the hard numbers in these stats? Would be interesting to see the percentage of SA population that plays games and how that aligns with the economic standing of the population.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Skwirrel ingests rat poison, makes him nutty

  • MonsterCheddar

    Pariah moves to Brakpan and starts calling himself Parra.

  • MonsterCheddar

    The Cheddar stops drinking beer and loses a chin chin cheroo.

  • Weanerdog

    Fake news is nothing new, it just now has a new catch phrase and people are actually calling bullshit on it.
    American – Spanish war was mostly fake news in the States.
    WW1 Germans invasion on Belgium, English papers vastly overstated the atrocities to push the war agenda.
    Vietnam
    And for a local spin go check out the apartheid, and these are all off the top of my head.
    Now I know they were represented by some truly vile alt-right individuals by funny how when gamergate called ethics in journalism it was shouted down as hate against woman etc. Baby, bathwater and all that. #JustSaying

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Stop wasting bathwater!

      • Weanerdog

        Sorry, but I did use it for 5 weeks first. 🙁

        • Admiral Chief

          Saving some [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅] eh?

          • Weanerdog

            Saving the World

          • Admiral Chief

            One bath in 5 weeks at a time eh?

  • Magoo

    *thumbs up*

  • Skittle

    POC LGBTTQQIAAP QUILTBAG WTF ROFLMAO, the age of acronyms. Can we please start referring to white men as WM, I’m tired of reading so many words.

    • Magoo

      WBC 😉

  • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

    Off-topic (but still relevant)

    I really hate the term “people of colour” (POC). It is the one “regressive” term that is without a doubt a collective “fuck-you” (from white liberals) to the vast and beautiful tapestry of non-white ethnicities on this incredible planet.

    Whenever a champagne socialist uses it, I just want to grab them by their scrawny neck and spit in their face, “Gee! thanks for lumping us all under one banner, you fucking poser!”

    Rant/

    • Sageville

      I think it’s cause “People of Color” is a better term than “Non-white”….

      I can’t really do the whitesplaining here though…

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Please don’t! Both terms are deplorable!

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