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Teenager's Murder Leads Philippine Village To Ban Video Game

A "Defense of the Ancients" character
A "Defense of the Ancients" character
Madonna Virola

SALAWAG — In the multi-player online battle video game Defense of the Ancients, or DotA, the aim is to conquer the opposing team on the other side of the map. The graphics are impressive, and the play is challenging.

But for some, the game is not just about friendly competition, after it's been blamed as a contributing factor in the Dec. 15 murder of a 19-year-old, who was allegedly stabbed by his friend outside a computer gaming shop after the two were playing the game. The boy responsible is now in government custody, and the incident pushed local officials to ban DotA.

Copies of the official ban have been posted in the shops, and any commercial enterprises that violate the law twice will have their licenses revoked.

"What happens to young people is they spend hours on the Internet," Salaway village chief Eric Paredes in Dasmarinyas city explains. "They won't eat, they lose sleep and gamble on the game. This leads to violence. Young people who play very well are hired for gambling with huge amounts of money. This is already too much."

He says parents would report their children missing in the evening only to find them later in the computer shops. About 80,000 people live in Salawag, and there are 75 computer shops in town.

Jo, a softdrink seller, says his son became addicted to the game. "My son stopped going to school two years ago," he says. "We found he was playing DotA at the computer shop. He changes out of his school uniform when he gets there."

An Internet cafe in Salawag — Photo: Madonna Virola

Nearby is Salawag elementary school, where Felix Libarios teaches computers. He says he's happy with the ban. "They were sleepy, their grades were falling," he says of his students. "It's problematic when young people turn to e-games to forget about the real world and be entertained,"

Paredes says the village tried lesser measures before instituting an outright ban. For example, they passed earlier laws such as a curfew and a ban on playing online when in uniform, but none of these were strictly followed. "A ban on e-games appears to be more effective," he says.

Computer shop owners protested the law, and in a meeting with the town council the shop owners said that they would monitor their businesses better.

On my way out of the village, I meet high school students riding in a jeepney and ask them about the ban. "I agree because DotA is addictive," one of the girls says.

But her friend Jerome disagrees. "It will be disastrous for the computer shop owners because 60% to 70% percent of people come to play DotA. I also play DotA and am able to control my behavior."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Backfired! How Russia's Playing Games With Gas Prices Became A Big Problem For Its War

A complex compensation mechanism for fuel companies, currency devaluation, increased demand due to the war, logistics disruptions, and stuttering production growth have combined to trigger price rises and deepening shortages at home in the Russian energy market. That is a real risk for the war in Ukraine.

photo at night of workers at a gas plant

Workers in the Murmansk region of Russia overlook Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas

Vladimir Smirnov/TASS/ZUMA
Ekaterina Mereminskaya

Updated Sep. 20, 2023 at 3:20 p.m.

In Russia, reports of gasoline and diesel shortages have been making headlines in the country for several months, raising concerns about energy supply. The situation escalated in September when a major diesel shortage hit annexed Crimea. Even before that, farmers in the southern regions of Russia had raised concerns regarding fuel shortages for their combines.

“We’ll have to stop the harvest! It will be a total catastrophe!” agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev had warned at the time. “We should temporarily halt the export of petroleum products now until we have stabilized the situation on the domestic market.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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As the crisis deepens, experts are highlighting the unintended consequences of government intervention in fuel pricing and distribution.

The Russian government has long sought to control the prices of essential commodities, including gasoline and diesel. These commodities are considered "signalling products", according to Sergei Vakulenko, an oil and gas expert and fellow at the Carnegie Endowment. Entrepreneurs often interpret rising gasoline prices as a signal to adjust their pricing strategies, reasoning that if even gasoline, a staple, is becoming more expensive, they too should raise their prices.

The specter of the 2018 fuel crisis, where gasoline prices in Russia surged at twice the rate of other commodities, haunts the authorities. As a result, they implemented a mechanism to control these prices and ensure a steady supply. Known as the "fuel damper," this mechanism seeks to balance the profitability of selling fuel in both domestic and foreign markets.

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