I play video games, but not so frequently that one would label me a gamer.
But the little I know about gaming has got me thinking: are gamers killing gaming in Uganda?
Gaming is pretty big here. That might not seem obvious until you visit your local mall and realize how many electronic shops have video game consoles on display.
These people are still in business primarily because the market for consoles, particularly the old ones, is insatiable. When I was growing up, it was almost shameful to raise the notion of gaming in some circles, primarily because most adults at that time had a pretty rigid and outdated perception of entertainment. But things have changed.
None of those perceptions ever kept me away from video games. And that is true for every other man and woman in my generation. We have made gaming a staple of the entertainment landscape in this country.
Look closely enough and you will notice that the number of gaming parlors and cafes in Kampala is growing. But there’s a problem.
I just said that gaming is pretty big in Uganda. But if you are not an avid gamer, that is probably news to you. Why is that? Well, it all comes down to the fact that gamers are such an isolated bunch.
Yes, there are plenty of gaming parlors and cafes in this city, but not so many that their presence can be felt. It takes a keen eye and a focused mind to find an establishment in Kampala to play video games.
I mean, we have enough establishments on offer in this country to cater to the needs of those gamers who want them. But the majority of gaming does not happen in gaming parlors and cafes.
While the gaming community in Uganda is definitely large, it is also primarily virtual. Most avid gamers get their virtual itches scratched in the comfort of their own homes.
They spend hours parked in front of their computers, ears tucked away in headsets, eyes glued to their screens, engaging in all manner of digital madness and mayhem, with their friends, family, and neighbours none the wiser.
That is not to say that gamers are loners. It is more like they only ever interact with other gamers and typically only over the internet. They are content to simply hide away in their gaming dens, enjoying the medium they love. And that is perfectly fine.
However, if that trend continues, a time will come when this present crop of avid gamers grows old and dies. And they will take the gaming culture with them.
This country will return to a time when video games were frowned upon and perceived erroneously as an unsophisticated form of entertainment. And such a development will only succeed in stifling the gaming culture further until it completely dies.
The key here is exposure.
Gamers do not have exposure and they have no interest in exposing themselves, in reaching out, making their voices heard, or thrusting their hobbies into the limelight. As a result, their community will soon start to shrink until they are no more.