On December 21, a peaceful demonstration to honor the lives lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting is occurring in the video game realm. Created by Antwand Pearman, the president of GamerFitNation (a website that combines the world of gaming and health together for gamers to gain a healthier life through their hobby), it is a call to gamers to not play online shooters for one day to commemorate the lives of those innocent people lost in the shooting. Pearman first expressed his idea in this powerful video, and since the hash tag #OSCEASEFIRE has caught on in Twitter and more than 2,800 people are “Going” to the event as confirmed by Facebook.
As a believer in peaceful demonstrations and the genuine goodness found in the gaming community despite the vast sea of foul mouthed little kids and (insert)-ists commonly found, I saw this as an admirable opportunity for everyone who’s part of the gaming community to join together for one common purpose. I went to the man himself to ask him some pressing questions regarding the event and what it means to him and other gamers.
ROG: So how did you get the idea for Day of Cease Fire after hearing about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
Pearman: Like all my ideas it just came to me with something being the trigger. Right after hearing about the shooting I attended a screening for the movie Django. Love the movie by the way. Anyway I watched the movie only to feel my body cringe every time someone was shot. I kept thinking about the victims. Afterwards I was very emotional, and wanted to do something about it right away. Then I made the video about the Ceasefire. Still beforehand I reached out to people asking for support, but few answered. But they are here now, and I’m grateful.
ROG: Do you believe you’ll get support from video game companies that have online shooters?
Pearman: Good question. Honestly, I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t blame them either. It’s a conflict of interest. They are trying to get people to play and I’m telling them not too. Still if they did I’d be shocked and grateful. I respect these people and the work they do and wouldn’t want them to think other wise. Some people from big name companies support me already, but I won’t put them on blast out of respect.
ROG: Now, video games have had a long history of being blamed as a reason for mass shootings and seem to be constantly brought up whenever an event like this occurs. Do you think this event might show society video games are a safe source of entertainment and most gamers prefer to pick up their controllers and not guns.
Pearman: Yes for the most part and no. Yes, because it’s a peaceful mission and informed people will see it for what it is. No, because people don’t try to keep themselves informed. People choose to accept certain inaccurate beliefs. Why? Because they don’t want to accept the reality that goes against what they believe. It’s easy to accept video games as the villain rather than say, “Hey maybe gun control is an issue, or mental health, or parenting, or bullying.”
ROG: In your video, you said you wanted to create a peaceful demonstration, which seems like an honest purpose. However the event has been receiving backlash with people saying it’s pointless and won’t achieve anything. Personally, what do you think when you read these things against something that’s supposed to be an act of respect you care a lot about?
Pearman: I feel that those people, who in my opinion are few in comparison to the people who support it are looking at it the wrong way. First some of them are misinformed about what it is. I say this because I’ve read those peoples’ reactions and they thought it was a boycott of FPS, period. It’s like that game you play when you have a row of people and you whisper something in the first person’s ear and by the time the message gets to the end it’s completely different. This is simply an act of peace that all gamers, no matter where they are in the world can be apart of. As far as the ceasefire being called “pointless” if they feel it’s not enough by all means may they do more. Donate, care give, visit the victims, whatever they wish. People shouldn’t act like the Cease Fire is stopping them from doing something for the victims. Let the gaming world serve as an example of what world peace could look like if everyone just ceased fire.
ROG: Now, what would you like to say to a gamer who is hesitant about participating in Day of Cease Fire because he can’t see how it would make any impact?
Pearman: Don’t do this Cease Fire for the media, or me. Do it for yourselves and the families who are hurt right now. Still, if my words are not enough try the words of a greater man. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter (Martin Luther King Jr.).”
So take the occasion to do other great things to make the world a better place on that day. Volunteer or donate to charities like Child’s Play or the Red Cross. Day of Cease Fire is an opportunity for every gamer to get in touch with their inner philanthropists because after all, many games center around heroes and saving various real and made up worlds when we can be powerful (maybe not as powerful but still powerful).
*UPDATE* as of now Australian gamers are participating in #OSCEASEFIRE. Please join us and other gamers and let’s pay tribute to all of those who lose lives to gun violence.