Holiday Guide to Shopping for Gamers

There’s no denying it, the holidays are around and with it comes the time to reap the fruits of your labor. Of course there’s also the gift giving part which nobody can escape, and of course everyone will have at least one friend who identifies as a gamer.

For those who want to get something for their gamer friends but don’t know where to start, here are some helpful shopping tips:

Know your target

Chances are, you’re shopping for one of two kinds of gamers; a console gamer or a PC gamer. Know which one he or she is and find out which console they own. From here you can break down your choices to either games or accessories.

Console groups


Wii, Wii U or 3DS

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Common issues:

  • Systems are region locked, so be sure that game regions match the console region
  • Online play is usually free
  • Most games sold here are from the USA region and Asian region
  • E-shop cards are readily available for USA accounts
  • Wii has been jailbroken to infinity; Wii U hasn’t neither has the N3DS
  • Find out if giftee’s Wii console can play the game you intent to buy

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Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita

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Common issues:

  • Not region locked, so any game will fit any console
  • DLC is region locked, so use the appropriate PSN Account
  • Playstation 4 requires a premium account to play online
  • Playstation Credits are available in USA dollars, HK dollars, SN dollars and JAP Yen
  • Playstation 3 has already been jailbroken but with limited functionality, Playstation 4 and Vita have not

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Xbox 360, Xbox One

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  • Not region locked, so any game will fit any console
  • DLC is region locked, so use the appropriate Xbox LIVE account
  • Online play is pay to play
  • Microsoft credits are available in USA dollars
  • Xbox 360 has been jailbroken with little impact to game performance
How to pick a game

Favorites aren’t always a wise choice

Everyone has a favorite series or genre of game. Personally I follow the Pokemon series as well as the Zelda games. Gamers would love to get a copy of the latest installment to their favorite game series for the holidays, but before you rush out of your chair to purchase that title, do a bit of research. If the person you are giving it to is a big fan of the series, there’s a big chance he got the game on launch date and a second copy wouldn’t do any good. Series like Pokemon, Zelda, NBA 2k, Assassin’s Creed are well followed and well advertised, so their fans are more than likely to get them early for launch-day DLC. Snoop around and know if he’s already got one or is frothing at the mouth to get one. If he doesn’t already, make sure he doesn’t get it until you do. He’ll be your best friend for the rest of the holidays.

Mainstream isn’t always too mainstream

Let’s presume your friend already has the copy of his or her favorite gaming series, time for plan B. Gamers won’t always admit it, but they want that triple-A title that just came out. Unfortunately their meager budgets don’t permit them from getting it with the latest in the series they are following. This is the perfect opportunity to fill in that void. Shadow of Mordor, Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros or maybe Far Cry which they’ve seen countless trailers of but have never gotten the courage to buy for themselves because they might miss their favorite series or be called “too mainstream”. Maybe you could even get them a spin-off of their favorite titles, maybe a Pokemon Rumble Blast or a Shin Megami Tensei side-game. They’ve always wanted to at least try it but there’s a lot of reasons they won’t get it. They may not play it in public, but they’ll thank you for it for sure.

Under the radar

Okay, so your friend is a sucker for triple-A titles and doesn’t mind being called mainstream. Try an “art” game. Indie games and obscure titles might not be in their radar, but with a little research, you’ll find one that they can enjoy. Telltale games like The Walking Dead is sure to at least pique curiosity among any gamer. Games like Flower or Journey will give your friend a fresh gaming experience. Scout around the indie scene top-sellers, it’s likely they’ll fit your friend’s taste too. Love it or hate it, they’ll thank you for the gaming variety you introduced them to.

Where to shop

Datablitz/ i-Tech

Datablitz, because gamers trust gamers

Gamers trust these two retailers for a reason. By far, Datablitz is the most widely patronized gaming retail store in the Philippines and for good cause. Check out their website for a Datablitz branch near you and do your shopping there. Not only will they more likely have a better selection of games, accessories and consoles but they’ll have better prices and be a lot more helpful. Most of the people there know about region locks, compatibility, which system goes where and common issues with the items they have on sale. Not to mention these places are among the few that carry limited edition titles to go with their expansive array. They don’t sell jailbreaks or modified units, so you can be sure everything is legit and safe.

Stay away from SM Department Stores, Astrovision, Toys R Us or Toy Kingdom as much as you can. Their prices are naturally inflated and the sales representatives aren’t going to be much help. Most of the time you’ll be better off browsing on your own than talking to them, so just steer clear of these places unless you absolutely have to.

Small-time retailers are worth a look, but to find anything worth gifting you’d have to have a bit of gaming know-how yourself. Unless you know what you’re looking for, places that sell second-hand, non-branded or repaired gadgets should be a no-go. If you enter these places without knowing your stuff, you will be milked for every centavo you have.


Desperation moves

If all else fails and you’re absolutely clueless about games or just don’t know what game your friend might enjoy, try game credits. Nintendo E-shop cards, Playstation Store Credit, Xbox Arcade Credits and Steam Wallet Credits are all 100% hits with gamers. All you have to do is find out which console platform they play in and purchase the appropriate card for them. Heck, you don’t even have to wrap it, just text him the code, tell him to enter it into his Steam Wallet or whatever and watch the love flow in. You cannot go wrong with it.

It also helps that not all gamers want the same games and not all the games they want come out in the holiday season. If your friend follows a title which isn’t coming out till next year, the credits you give him will ensure that he’ll be able to afford it come release day. More than just giving your friend money, it’s money already invested on games from the get-go, so there’s no guilt when he splurges that 2500Php on the next Diablo 3 expansion.

More options

But gifting for gamers isn’t all about getting them a game. There are times that they lack that one accessory that they haven’t come around to getting for themselves. It could be a gaming keyboard, headset, control stick extensions or maybe a bigger SD card. Filling up one of these gaps for them this holiday season will ensure you will be thought of everytime they get a multi-kill on LoL.


Gift game recommendations:


Wii U

  • Super Smash Bros for WiiU
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Legend of Zelda Windwaker HD
  • Hyrule Warriors

Nintendo 3DS

  • Pokemon Omega Ruby/ Alpha Sapphire
  • Persona Q
  • Fantasy Life
  • Super Smash Bros for 3DS
  • Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright the Trilogy
  • Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies
  • Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright
  • Azure Gunvolt Striker


Playstation 3

  • Borderlands the Pre-sequel
  • Dragon Age Inquisition

Playstation 4

  • NBA 2k15
  • Shadow of Mordor
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • WWE 2k15
  • Far Cry 4
  • Telltale Games: The Walking Dead 2

Playstation Vita

  • Borderlands 2
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • Final Fantasy X-X2


Xbox One

  • Destiny
  • Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
  • Halo
  • Killer Instinct

*Do you agree with my tips and recommendations? Would you recommend any game that would make an awesome gift this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!



Fainting’s cold Embrace – Day 2

As my adventure went on, I was led to the Rustorbo City gym where I knew I would get a chance to test my skills with the toughest trainer the city has to offer. I enter the gym to get a glimpse of what I’ll be up against. Fossils, ambers and bones of different sizes filled the gym. I could tell it was a rock type gym because of its theme. The attendant greeted me and confirmed what I had earlier just speculated, it was indeed a Rock-type gym, which meant KungFu Chick wouldn’t be much help getting through this one.

Before I took on the gym, I decided to go exploring a little bit more. Going east led me to Route 116. I encountered new trainers which I beat off easily with KungFu Chick’s type advantage. I decided to pick up a new Pokemon, the first one I could find was a Nincada. Wurmie handily weakened it, not after too long I was welcoming a new member of the group. “Mini Ipis” I called him, a fine addition to my team as I hope to someday evolve a Shedinja from him.

Knowing what I was up against, I took some time to train in the tall grass hoping that Wurmie would learn a Grass-type attack soon. Before long Wurmie began evolving from a small Wurmple into a Cascoon. A few more trainer battles later, Wurmple was again evolving into a Beautifly.

Even as a fully evolved Pokemon (my first in this game) I still wasn’t confident enough to send Wurmie against the gym leader. It was when Wurmie learned Absorb that I felt it was finally go-time.

Three minor trainers blocked the way but they posed no threat to Wurmie and her Absorbs. One by one my team and I downed them. As I faced the gym leader Roxanne, I was confident that Wurmie was my key to a clear victory.

Gym Leader Battle: Roxanne

Gym Leader Pokemon: Geodude, Nosepass

Without hesitation I sent out Wurmie, brimming with confidence this would be an easy fight. Roxanne sent out her Geodude. Both Pokemon were of the same level but I knew I had the upper hand because of typing. Immediately I went in for the kill, “ABSORB” and before it could even move, Geodude was knocked out. Good job, Wurmie!

She then sends in Nosepass. I was sure that it would end up the same way again. Immediately I sent Wurmie to attack with another ABSORB. It was super effective! But Nosepass stood its ground. I began thinking of how to go about my next moves when suddenly, the opposing Nosepass unleashed its ROCK TOMB. In an instant, Wurmie was buried beneath the rocks. Knocked out, gone, all because of my arrogance. It was devastating.

But there was little time to mourn Wurmie’s loss. She shall be avenged but first I had to get out of this battle alive.

Knowing I no longer had the type advantage, I called on Ziggydawg to lay some traps. Ziggydawg used SAND ATTACK to better evade Nosepass’ hard hits, but a TACKLE still got through. Ziggydawg was hurt bad but I just had to have faith that the sand would blind Nosepass just enough to survive. Nosepass started buffing with HARDEN as I had Ziggydawg continue pouring in the sand, until another ROCK TOMB managed to hit, knocking Ziggydawg out. Goodbye my friend, you did your part well.

I was getting desperate now, but risking my starter KungFu Chick would be meaningless at this point. Spit wasn’t going to fare any better either, so I just went with my gut and threw out Mini Ipis. Nosepass again tried to TACKLE but fortunately all the sand Ziggydawg threw at him is paying off. All Mini Ipis had to do was LEECH LIFE from Nosepass a little at a time. It was barely hurting Nosepass, but it was all Mini Ipis could do, LEECH LIFE, dodge, LEECH LIFE, avoid, LEECH LIFE, avoid. Eventually Nosepass was visibly weakened but Mini Ipis was too tired to use LEECH LIFE again. With all my fingers crossed, I sent Mini Ipis on a scary mission, TACKLE, avoid, TACKLE, avoid, TACKLE, avoid, Nosepass was knocked out!

By the skin of our teeth we survived but not without casualties.

Roxanne proceeds to congratulate me, but my thoughts are with my fallen Pokemon. She awards me with a badge which would let higher level Pokemon follow me even outside of battle. I didn’t really care, I wanted Wurmie and Ziggydawg back.


Badge earned: Boulder badge

Pokemon lost: Wurmie, Ziggydawg

As I left the gym, I hurried to the nearest Pokecenter. There I laid my Pokemon to rest in the GRAVEYARD. You have served me well, my dear friends. Until we meet again.

When I left the Pokecenter, a man in a red get up zoomed past me. I followed him to the direction of Rustuf Tunnel where some miners complained that he was disrupting their work. I went in to see what I could make of it. It was pitch black inside the tunnel but I could barely make out the figure of the man I saw run in. Slowly I crept toward him until we were face to face. In a panic he threw out a Pokemon, but was no match for KungFu Chick. We made quick work of him and he ran out of the tunnel in sheer terror. As I turned my attention back onto the tunnel, I noticed a small Winggul on the floor. I wondered who it belonged to so I picked it up and brought it out of the tunnel with me. To my surprise a man ran toward me and just picked up the Pokemon in my arms. He then turned away and left.

Little did I know that man would be the key to continuing my adventure.

Adventure started on 11/21/2014

ID No.: 33991

Date: 11/21/2014

Trainer: Toby

Pokemon added: Mini Ipis (Nincada)

Pokemon in party: Kungfu Chick Lv. 19, Spit Lv. 15, Mini Ipis Lv. 11

Number of badges: 1

Play time: 3:37

Graveyard: Wurmie, Ziggydawg

A Journey begins

“I’m a boy.”

One of the many things I had to tell one Professor Burch while sitting at the back of a moving truck. When we finally made it to the new house in Hoenn there was so much relief, my journey would finally start after such a long wait. Machops from the moving company handled the unloading of the furniture so all I had to do was head up to my room and start exploring. Mother called me over to see Father on the telly, we just barely missed a news report about him. She went on telling me how Father’s old friend lived right next door and that I should see him.

I oblige and make my way next door. I enter the house only to find only the lady of the house, she tells me her husband has gone exploring so I search for him with haste. As I enter route 101, there was a cry for help. A man in a lab coat was being chased around by a Zigzagoon. Immediately I lept into action, saw a satchel bag on the floor with three Pokeballs. After much consideration I picked Torchic and named him “Kungfu Chick”. To the rescue I was, battling off the Zigzagoon until I finally got it to faint.

Fast forward and I got to meet Professor Burch’s daughter May who had a large ribbon on her head. We became friends and she taught me the ropes to becoming a Pokemon Master. Soon I found myself trekking forward, into the wild grass attempting my first catch.

As I walked along the tall grass in Route 101, a wild Pokemon emerged! It was a Wurmple. The small frail thing was no match for KungFu Chick, so I summoned my trusty starter to weaken my target. With a tackle Wurmple was already weakened so it was time to whip out a Pokeball. After a few wiggles, the Pokeball shut tight and captured the little worm. I name her “Wurmie”.

With KungFu Chick and Wurmie in hand, I started exploring toward Route 102. After beating two trainers, a Zigzagoon jumped out at me while I was walking through the tall grass. KungFu Chick sprang into action with a tackle. I saw that the wild Zigzagoon was hurt so I threw a Pokeball but it broke free! I tried yet another Pokeball but to no avail. Not wanting to risk knocking out the Zigzagoon, I switched Wurmie in to chip away at it. A few weak tackles later, I had Zigzagoon ready to be captured. Out went the Pokeball and in went the Zigzagoon. I named him “Ziggy dawg” because that’s what he is.

More adventures await, but the first day of adventuring had to come to an end.

Adventure started on 11/21/2014

ID No.: 33991

Date: 11/21/2014

Trainer: Toby

Pokemon added: Torchic [Kungfu Chick] (Professor Burch), Wurmple [Wurmie] (Route 101), Zigzagoon [Ziggydawg] (Route 102)

Pokemon in party: Kungfu Chick Lv. 9, Wumie Lv. 3, Ziggydawg Lv. 5

Number of badges: 0

Play time: 0:46

Graveyard: None

Trainers defeated: 2

Pokemon caught 2IMG_4557.JPG

The Omega Ruby experience

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire has just been released and with a bit of prodding from my ever understanding girl friend, I was able to get a copy on launch date in the Philippines.

A long cue later, Pokemon Omega Ruby with the little Primal Groudon figurine was mine.

Since Pokemon X and Y introduced me to the competitive scene, it is likely my goal will be to complete the story of Pokemon Omega Ruby as quickly as possible just to access the competitive tools. Just to add a bit more spice to my adventure, I’ll be playing using what is known as the Nuzlocke Challenge.

The Nuzlocke Challenge is an unofficial set of added rules to playing Pokemon that makes it more difficult and more restrictive, reminiscent of more tactical RPG’s such as the Tactics series, Fire Emblem or X-Com. A few basic rules include considering a Pokemon “dead” when it faints in battle, this means releasing it (or for more forgiving versions, permanently PC boxing it) into the wild, capturing only the first Pokemon encountered in an area (if it dies or flees, you got nothing) and using only captured Pokemon.

For this play through, I’ll be following only the basic rules with the added rule of giving each Pokemon I catch a nickname. I realize doing this would drastically stunt my Pokedex progress, but what the heck, I’ll be able to fix it once I’m done. With a ready team of competitive Pokemon just itching to be Pokebank transferred, it won’t be difficult to complete the Dex eventually.

Challenge rules:

  • Nickname all caught Pokemon
  • Use only caught Pokemon
  • Catch only first Pokemon encountered in each area
  • If Pokemon feints in battle, release that Pokemon
  • No repeat Pokemon

So, let’s get started!

Adventure started on 11/21/2014

ID No.: 33991

Date: 11/21/2014

Trainer: Toby

Pokemon added: Torchic [Kungfu Chick] (Professor Burch)

Who is the Filipino Gamer?

Video games is a big part of my life. I wake up in the morning next to my Nintendo 3DS facing our TV set with a Playstation 3 connected to it. I have a small library of games for my 3DS and a slightly bigger one for the Playstation 3 because it’s meshed with games my brothers bought. On my Youtube subscriptions list are channels ranging from moviebob, Game Theory, FeministFrequency (yes, I watched her videos), Extra Credits, Angry Joe, Hey Ashe Whatcha Playin aside from the official Youtube channels of Nintendo, Playstation and other game publishers. Like the thousands if not millions of Filipinos like me, I am what is known as a “gamer”.

While the term “gamer” is already filled with many questions as to what it actually means, it has made me curious as to who compose the Philippine gaming community. Since coming out of the abyss of illegality following the Martial Law era, video games have boomed in the Philippines with many Filipinos (myself included) turning it into a way of life. With the advent of Facebook and other social media outlets, the community of gamers in the Philippines has become more public and also become more connected. As the community continues growing, the question remains, “Who is the Filipino gamer?”

An outsider looking into Filipino gaming would see gamers as the loud, rowdy, cuss-like-a-pirate hoodlums that frequent computer shops playing Counter-Strike, DotA, League of Legends or similarly themed games. This has become the sort of poster-image of what a Filipino gamer is, but there has never been an actual study conducted on what games Filipinos tend to play more. In fact, I can’t recall any study having been done about Filipino gamers.

The Study

I’ve been planning to do this for some time already, until one night I just said, “Screw it, let’s get it on!” I created a survey intended for multiple users to fill in with their responses. I posted the survey form on different Facebook groups and forums, both gaming related and non-gaming related. I also sent it to some of my friends to get a bigger sample size. The aim was to get as random a sample as possible to draw as neutral an output as possible.

All of the results are based solely on what the respondents reported.


The study was conducted using a random sampling method through a survey form that was allowed to be posted on different forums on Facebook. Respondents answered the survey form and their answers were tallied automatically via the Google Drive spreadsheet. The forums were chosen based on their general topics, some were related to video games while others were related to free discussions.

By the time the survey was closed to the public and results finalized, the survey had 570 respondents. All respondents were anonymous as their name was at no point asked.

From the tallied data, analysis will come in the form of composition information, preference ranking, confessed perception and exposition. The exposition data will undergo content analysis in order to discern possible patterns arising from the responses.

As of press time 11:00PM Nov. 4, 2014 nearly 48 hours since the survey was first published, the tallies are as follows:

Total number of respondents: 528
Margin of error: 1% (to account for responses given by non-Filipinos)

Sex split:


Male – 87%
Female– 11%

I made a slight error here. It seems many respondents skipped this part resulting in the missing 1%. I’ve changed it so that you can’t skip this question anymore.

This is somewhat not surprising. Gaming has always been viewed as an all-boys club but recent studies have shown that there is a balance in the sex demographic. Apparently on online Facebook forums, males simply dominate the forums. This might not reflect the actual male-female ratio of gamers in the Philippines as it may be found that females are just generally less active on online forums but more active in-game. More studies have to be done to make this finding more conclusive.

Most popular platform:
PC (Master Race)76%

This question asks which platform people use when playing video games. As expected, the PC or personal computer is the most popular gaming platform in the Philippines. With the plethora of computer shops catering to the public, giving gamers momentary access to PC games at reasonable prices, it’s easy to see why the PC is a popular platform.

Most popular console:
Playstation 349%

After the popularity of the Playstation 2 in the Philippines because of the availability of pirated games for it, Sony was able to keep their audience even after introducing new disc technology that set piracy back a few years. More than half of the respondents claim they play on the Playstation 3, possibly because of its availability in computer shops and partly because of the free Playstation Network as compared to the Xbox pay subscription. Between Sony and Microsoft, Filipinos go for Sony.

Most patronized distribution outlet:

Filipino gamers buy from Datablitz. With an overwhelming majority of respondents stating they purchase games from Datablitz, it seems the long time gaming retailer is a name no gamer can go without knowing. Even in the days when pirated discs were abundant, Datablitz stood its ground and refused to cave in to the pressures of the market. When the 6th generation of consoles hit the shelves and pirated discs were hard to come by, Datablitz reaped the fruits of its labor and became one of the most trusted stores for Filipino gamers.

Most owned gaming platform:

It seems that Filipinos not only like to play on PC’s but also tend to own one. Probably because it’s easier to justify than other gaming platforms, the PC is a gaming staple for Filipino homes. With good graphics cards for video editing also comes good graphics for gaming. Rigs can usually be built for work and play at the same time, so for some, the rig pays for itself. It’s also notable that as of press time, 89.5% of respondents who claim they play games on a PC also claim they own a PC, which means Filipinos.

Most owned console:
Playstation 341%

Like the PC, with more people playing on the Playstation 3, there was a higher chance more people owned one.

No consoles modified – 56%
Some consoles modified – 38%

It’s not a secret, video game piracy is rampant in the Philippines, and why wouldn’t it be? Until the rise of online gaming and massive game worlds, there was nearly no distinguishable difference between playing on a licensed disc and a pirated or modded version of the game. Most of the respondents opted to keep their consoles un-modified but a 38% have in one way or another tweaked their consoles to run 3rd party software or games. The rest, I’m just going to assume they’re PC gamers.


Most respondents declared their ages to be within the ranges 18-22 (35%) and 23-28 (33%). This does not come as a surprise as this is usually the age range of people who engage in online discussions and are active on forums. The age range also indicates that most of the respondents are in that point in life where people usually start actually developing career paths.

How educated are gamers:
Bachelor’s degree holders 35%
Master’s degree holders26%

Filipino gamers are educated, or at least the ones that answered the survey. Among all the respondents, most declared to have finished a bachelor’s degree while in 2nd place are those who claim to be master’s degree holders. If consistent with actual trends, this might be an indicator that people do not “out grow” games as they become more educated. In fact, the number of respondents that claim to have finished high school is outnumbered by those that claim to have finished college.

Not a student’s pass-time:

The community is not overwhelmingly dominated by professionals or dropouts as the divide is nearly down the middle.

Favorite games:

At first I thought it was because my sample consisted of only the Pokemon groups, but even with the inclusion of other gaming groups the results stayed the same. Pokemon, followed by DotA is the most commonly played game in the Philippines as reported by the respondents.

Importance of gaming:

importance graph

This graph illustrates the perception of Filipinos toward gaming. It’s apparently a bit important with many answering on the high end of the scale.

Importance of graphics:


This shows how Filipinos give importance to graphics. Most rank it at “8” on a scale of “10” with “10” being the highest. It shows graphics is a consideration for games.

Importance of story:


This shows that narrative and story is an integral part of Filipino gamer preference. Filipinos like stories in their games, apparently. Which is nice.

The findings here only represent a very rough representation of the Filipino gaming community. The study will continue to receive data from other respondents and will be updated accordingly should any new trends arise.

The summary of the raw data and other data analysis will be posted when the survey has concluded.

The researcher realizes there are a lot of flaws to the methodology and also analysis. I hope that with this kick starter study, future studies will be made that will improve on the flaws present in this study. I also hope that the speculations raised by this study with quantified data can be useful to identifying areas of interest for future research on the topic.

The “G” word:

Yes, I’m a gamer – 89%

A vast majority of respondents identified themselves as gamers. 20% of females did not identify as gamers. Only 9% of males did not identify as gamers. It shows that females had a higher tendency to avoid the “gamer” label for one reason or another. Other identified as “gamer girl” or “not so much” as though being female made it more difficult to carry the gamer label.

A big thank you to all the respondents and the groups where I posted the survey which got more than 500 responses in 2 days.

  • Pokemon Filipino Players United
  • Filipino Freethinkers
  • Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society
  • Rational Filipino
  • BlizzHeroesPH
  • Playstation Philippines
  • Falcons 3DS
  • Humanist Alliance Philippines International
  • Saksi ni Professor Sycamore
  • Smash Bros Philippines
  • Pilipinas Got Pokemon
  • Pinoy 3DS
  • Starcraft PH
  • Diablo PH
  • The Adamson Chronicle
  • All my friends of Facebook who took the survey

Appreciating a simple ↓↘→℗

*Published in Volume 1 2012 Litmus: The Official Journal of the Department of Communication, Adamson University

It takes a bit of programming to get the character to do the move, a bit more to get him to execute it consistently and a lot to get him to do it with the right timing. (Internet Photo)

It’s a common notion for people (especially the conservative) to disregard video games as an “inferior” medium. Many think the only worthwhile games are the “Jumpstart” series or the “educational” games. Campaigns have been launched to promote the “goodness” of books and print while denouncing the evils of the joystick. Well, times have changed, technology has evolved and so have the intricacies of communicating ideas, emotions and life principles.

Gaming plays a vital role in the world of communication today. One way or another, nearly everyone in the Philippines has access to a video game. While many pass it off as a stress reliever and other damn it with claims like, “I will turn your brain into mush”, only few know of how much work goes into making Ryu’s Shinku Haduken.

1. Worlds and legends worthy of literary recognition

As readily as J.R.R. Tolkien took people on journeys across Middle Earth and J.K. Rowling built the wishes of boys and girls to get their invites to Hogwarts, so have Shirugeru Myamoto brought to life a mushroom kingdom tormented by an evil dragon, as well as the kingdom of Hyrule awaiting its hero of time, Tetsuya Nomura give life to the mako city of Midgard and the battles between the sEEd gardens, Yoshitaka Amano told the story of the war of aedolons among so many other tales that can only be told through the platform which is a gaming console.

There are stories, tales, lores and journeys that would make any literary buff proud, enshrined within all the coding, programming and graphics design that go into a single video game. The difference is that in order to find out if the Templars can catch Ezio, you have to write the story yourself.

2. Longer stories, more fun!

Have you tried sitting through a Lord of the Rings marathon? It would take a die-hard fan of the movies to be able to sit through 10-or so hours of the film without feeling the tediousness in it. Those are all great films by any standard, but a person can only take in so much at one time.

With an average run-through length of 12-hours, video games can pack in a lot more story into it without running dry. Yes, attempting to the next cliff over and over again will frustrate many-a-gamers, but that’s the fun of it. People who play games aren’t in a rush to end it, usually because they’re having so much fun.

Writers of all sorts can and have taken advantage of this feature to gaming, introducing the world to story arcs that would have been a total pain to turn into a film or novel. Some even have the players choose their own story arcs, even adjusting the story according to the actions of the player. The potential for story-telling is great!

3. Teams to develop

No man is an island.

Stay after a Hollywood film and notice the credits. Among the names of stars and celebrities will be lists and lists of people who most have never even heard of. Make up, wardrobe, lights, sound editor, props manager, clapper A, fan operator, camera man juice box holder and the like, these are the people working behind the scenes of a film to make it as grand and wonderful as it is. The same goes with games.

Bucket-loads of codes are written, maps, sprites, models made just to form a decent functioning game. That’s not counting game play mechanics, character physics, model animation, texture, cinematography and final packaging that make you standard run-of-the-mill video game. If people pay P500 for something that has already made its revenues on the silver screen, it’s easy to imagine why developers have to charge thousands of pesos for a copy of their game.

4. New advertising avenues

Aside from those annoying pop-ups that come with free mobile apps, the advertising industry can really take advantage of video games. For example, what team wouldn’t benefit from having cyber-versions of themselves in the NBA2k series? Product placements and cameos are easier to make in a medium that allows items to be used, produced and seen over and over again.

With what Jay-Z did for the NBA 2k series, it’s not hard to see more games getting big names attached to their line-ups as well.

Shoe manufacturer? Why not take out an ad on a Left 4 Dead game, make you latest model an add-on to get extra running speed? Food product? Cameo as the food products on the Sims. The thing about gamers is that they are some of the most avid cult followers out there. Products that make it into the game are sure to get as many viewers of their ad as there are people who buy the game.


Gaming isn’t really mindless button mashing and it is a great disservice to all the people who created them to shrug them aside without even trying them. Just like a good book or movie, a lot goes into a video game that has more to offer than just plain entertainment. The next time someone triggers a haduken, think of that Capcom employee who wrote the script that allows you to guard from it.


The Decade the Philippines nearly went Game Over- for good

Looking through the iPod my little cousin uses while staying at our place, it’s hard to ignore the dominance of game apps over virtually anything else on it. That’s to be expected isn’t it? He’s a kid, he likes games, there’s really nothing odd about it. Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, Candy Crush and a Flappy Bird clone, were I a bit younger I’d scoff at the selection for being too “casual” and not “hardcore” enough for a nine-year old boy. Yes, some of them feed off the frustration of dealing with poorly programmed action timing, others are well-made variation timers that make you spend or wait and none of them actually gives you a reason to stop playing them. When I was his age, I was begging my dad for tokens to put into video game machines or constantly trying to remember the Konami code to get past level 1 of Contra. The “GAME OVER” screen is a forgotten sight in the world of gaming today that my cousin would probably never know, but just a few decades ago, the Philippines almost went GAME OVER for good.

Everyone in one way or form has a gaming device today. Personally, I have a high-end laptop that is decent for gaming, an iPhone which has a couple of games and a 3DSxl which I use whenever I’m away from home. My brothers and I share a PS3 in our room and have a decent-sized library of games. It’s hard to imagine that had history not taken the turns they did in the Philippines, we might not have any of the gaming devices we have here today.

Early gaming in the Philippines

While the United States were buzzing over computers, processors and the latest Atari, the Philippines had just been introduced to its first gaming devices, the video machine. Unlike the relatively portable consoles coming out in the west, video machines were big clunky machines that came with their own CRT monitors, joy sticks and power supply. They were like table-tops, flat surfaced with opposing players facing one another from either end. The moment Pacman first booted up with his hunger for pellets and fruits, the bright yellow dot had the Filipinos at the palm… of his… ehem… hands (I guess?).

Immediately the revolutionary video machines became a sensation. Filipino youths went out from their houses with as much change as they could in order to feed the hungry wooden beast in exchange for another shot at clearing the stage of yellow dots. Like a wild fire on a dry forest the popularity grew and spread throughout Manila, soon you couldn’t walk down Recto without hearing the familiar “wakka-wakka”.

My dad who had an ice cream parlor along Recto at the time experienced the craze first hand. He found the machines so lucrative that he planned to re-structure his entire store around the table-top money makers. In a single day, one machine earned him close to three thousand pesos which during the time was worth a lot more. All he needed to do was plug on the machines, open up his shop and make sure he had enough coins to break up his customer’s bills. That it came with such a hefty price tag was of no consequence to him, the machines were paying off so well they were paying for themselves in a matter of weeks!

“The problem,” he said, “there were too many greedy people that wanted to earn from it too.” After Chinese companies were able to copy the mother boards and program chips, cheaper and more affordable versions of the video machines flooded into the ports of Manila. Anyone who could raise a few thousand pesos to invest on a machine could afford one, from then it was simply a matter of looking for a power outlet and waiting for the money to come to them. Recto was lined up with octopus wires, extension cords and noisy video machines, occupied by students, kids and children regardless of whether or not they should have been in school during those hours. My dad even joked that before leaving to attend his own classes, he would see his store filled with students from a neighboring university and shout, “Check attendance!”

Regulation and Prohibition

Reports of the decline in school attendance and increase of juvenile delinquency eventually hit the ears of then President Marcos. At first, his remedy was to enforce regulations on owning and operating the video machines. No high school students allowed, far from schools, no gambling, no this, no that. Unfortunately, these regulations cut away the very demographics that made it such a lucrative business in the first place. Operators then resorted to bribing the enforcers to look the other way when it came to students inside their shops, nothing changed, the status quo stayed.

Years before, President Marcos had already passed Presidential Decree 519 which outlawed gambling devices as well as pin ball machines. Mid-year of 1981, rumors were spreading that President Marcos was planning to outlaw video machines as well. The video machine operators banded together to come up with a sizeable offering to appease the “gods”, but selfishness and disunity prevented them from reaching a consensus with smaller operators passing the bill to bigger ones and the bigger ones passing it off to the distributors until nobody wanted to cough up the dough. True enough, on June of that year, Marcos signed Letter of Instruction 1176 s. 1981 with this fatal provision:

“WHEREAS, I consider video machines within the classification of “similar contrivances”, under LOI No. 9 and “other devices” under PD 519.”

Gaming, though in its infancy, in the Philippines, was f**ked.

Not only was it illegal to operate a video machine business in the Philippines, just getting caught owning one of these machines could’ve landed you in jail. No amount of permits and government backing would’ve been enough to allow you to keep one of them. Needless to say, the streets were cleared, operators were forced to close shop and machines on which Pacman, Galaga, and Donkey Kong could be played on were destroyed.

Upon catching wind of the news, my dad immediately called up a supplier of his that was bringing in a shipment from Taiwan that day. The importer told him they were already at the port and ban or no ban, my dad would have to pay for them. Knowing he had no choice but to pay for them, my dad told the importer that as long as he could get all the units he ordered down from that ship and into his store, he would pay him every centavo he owed him. A few minutes later his phone rang again with the importer at the other end telling him that port authorities warned him that the moment those machines touched Philippine soil, they would be confiscated and he would be arrested, leaving him no choice but to turn around and bring them elsewhere.

As to the units he already had, my dad had no choice but to sell them to a middleman who was going to take them to Clark, Pampanga which was then still USA territory, thus exempt from the total prohibition. He cut his losses and sold all of his units at a fraction of the price he bought them except for one which still sits in our living room today. Throughout my childhood I only remember powering that machine up once, it was big, bulky, dusty, ran on 110 volts and it played Pac-man, I wasn’t very good at Pac-man.

The One that lived- After disposing of the other units, my dad kept this video machine at home where it still sits next to our door. After sustaining heavy water damage from Ondoy, it has been reduced to unassumingly awesome retro furniture.

The One that lived- After disposing of the other units, my dad kept this video machine at home where it still sits next to our door. After sustaining heavy water damage from Ondoy, it has been reduced to unassumingly awesome retro furniture.

Beyond the reach of the law

While all was chaotic and downright depressing for gaming in Manila, apparently in further away places like Parañaque, gaming was alive and well, unfazed by the all-out ban set by the dictator. According to my friend Miguel, a certain video game center which still operates today defied the total ban and continued to cater to the dot-munching, gorilla-chasing cravings of the Filipino youth those times. He told me of his father’s recollections as a college student during that very era, paying constant visits to that video game shack to blow off some steam.

While I only know of one area where gaming was able to live on in the Philippines, it’s almost certain that more areas had similar operators who sank into the darkness of obscurity and anonymity, making it so that authorities pay them no heed at all, allowing the Filipino gamer to grow.

End of prohibition

Through the EDSA People Power Revolution President Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines, with him, his tyrannical ban on gaming in the Philippines. There was no sudden proclamation that it was legal again, no “on” switch that suddenly flipped to power up the table-top cabinets, it just happened. Once again arcade cabinets were being seen inside malls, people once again allowed to enjoy having Jumpman save his girl or Pac-man gobble up ghosts out in the open, in public with nothing to fear. His old suppliers asked my dad if he wanted back in on the video machine operating gig, he declined having already been burned once before. He had enough of running it as a business, instead, he thought of just keeping it at home.

Fortunately the ban was lifted when it was. Roughly a few years after the trauma of the video machine ban was starting to heal, Nintendo started becoming a household name in the Philippines. We were fortunate enough to have been able to afford a Family Computer. Mario, Rockman, the Battle City tanks were some of the first images my then young eyes ever saw. It allowed for the next generation of Filipinos to enjoy home-based consoles and explore a world that would have otherwise been denied.

Under what is called statutory construction, a systematized way by which the Court interprets the law, had the ban still been effective, it would have included the Family Computer in its ban. Had there been no Family Computer in the Philippines, there would have been no Super Nintendo Entertainment System, no Nintendo 64, no Gameboy, no Gamegear, no Playstation, no Xbox, no PCs, nothing. Technically the Presidential Decree and the letter of instruction that followed it have yet to be repealed or amended to this day. Fortunately society no longer sees video games as the menace it once was and just chooses to let it be.

It’s sobering to know that what is now a great part of many Filipinos’ lives could have been taken away from them had history taken a turn for the worse. While there are those who would have been thankful for being void of Candy Crush, Farmville, Flappy Bird and other money-making or otherwise uninspired games, it would also have meant that we would never have had the opportunity to explore Hyrule, Skyrim, Midgard, Rapture, Columbia and all the other awesome places where we had experiences we would never have had in real life.

The next time we pick up our gaming device, be it a gaming PC, console or mobile device, let’s take a moment to remember how easily these could have been denied from us.