Politicians and reporters have long used video games as a scapegoat for policy failures and broader societal missteps. Sadly, it looks like that pattern of bigotry towards gamers—long a source of contention in the industry—has even extended to the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, in an all-too-predictable development, recent articles have started to pin the virus’s transmission on a Chinese bat that has clearly been targeted solely because of his identification as a gamer.
Raise your hands if you saw this one coming from a mile away.
For years, clueless members of the media have blamed gamers for mass shootings and cultural degeneracy, despite a total lack of scientific evidence to back up their claims. So, it should come as no surprise that reporters would jump at the first evidence that this Hubei Province-based bat was a long-time fan of the Gears of War series, unfairly casting him as responsible for the deaths of 290,000 people worldwide. It’s certainly an intriguing possibility, doubly so as it plays directly into the anti-gamer bigotries that the media has perpetuated for decades.
Here’s the problem: They have no proof.
Simply put, there’s nothing about playing Bloodborne or streaming StarCraft II matches that would make a Chinese bat—or any bat for that matter—more likely to originate and transmit a globally ravaging disease. There isn’t a single piece of evidence for this. Not one. But that doesn’t matter to the click-driven news media who know conjuring an image of some innocent nocturnal mammal wearing a gaming headset while booting up Fortnite will drive clicks to their site.
And, hey, that’s all that matters, right? Not the truth, which is that no studies have ever definitively linked gaming to starting a viral pandemic that ravages the world economy. Or a dedication to journalistic standards, which would dictate that reporters interview gaming icons like Shigeru Miyamoto and Sid Meier in their coronavirus coverage to balance out quotes from the notoriously anti-video game World Health Organization. Or even that this sort of reporting could destroy the life of a young Wuhan bat forever simply because he enjoys video games. Nope, all that matters is clicks to these people.
Frankly, it makes us sick. But we here at OGN will still continue to fight for a day when any individual—human, bat, or otherwise—can enjoy video games without being condemned and shamed by the world’s close-minded pundits and politicians out there. Until that day comes, we must all speak up for victims of hatred like this bat, and let the world know we gamers will not stand for mistreatment.