12 Jun

Coming out as a gamer girl

For a very long time, I hid my inner gamer. I was embarrassed by my love of gaming, and to this day, I’m not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of further ridicule – I was a smart, fat kid with a big mouth and often was the target of teasing and torment. As a kid, I loved video games in the large console – hello, PacMan birthday cake! We had an Atari 2600, and yes, I took a picture of the TV and somewhere I have my patch from conquering Pitfall.

As I grew up, I shied away from gaming – don’t know if it was lack of access, lack of money for new games/consoles, or the fact that most of my close friends were women and they weren’t gaming. Well, other than the summer between high school graduation & freshman year of college when we compulsively played Kings Quest IV (first big time female protagonist, btw) in our friend’s basement in between trips to Denny’s. Anyone who lived with me in Trout Hall at Central Michigan University knows how much I loved the Galaga console. I got a little bit into PC gaming, mostly because of irc friends, and of course, a boy. I actually dragged my entire PC to his house so we could play Quake II together. I even beat him. Once. I still have the screenshot to prove it. A few years later, I discovered Katamari Damacy at a NYE party and was OBSESSED and just *had* to buy a PlayStation 2 so I could play it at home. I got really into Guitar Hero on the Wii, but mostly used the Wii to stream Netflix. I ended up giving the Wii to my parents, the Wii Fit & Mario Kart steering wheels to my nieces, and traded in the PS2 to put toward the purchase of my Xbox360, which I got when the first model with the Kinect sensor was released.

I remember early on in our relationship, T and i were playing Left for Dead and his mom came into the room and said something along the lines of “you know you don’t have to sit here and watch him play…” and then she realized it: “Oh, you’re PLAYING!” I don’t know if it was meeting someone who was WAY more into gaming than I was, or if it was that I felt “safe” letting my inner gamer shine, or the fact that T was patient and showed me how to adjust controllers and how to play various games, or a combination of all of it, but I’m finally proud of my gamer status. I still have a hard time with some games. I really prefer to play strong, well-developed female characters (yay, new Tomb Raider for Christmas!) that aren’t just b00bs. I struggle with the misogyny, racism & homophobia I see and hear often in online games, and often will play only with people I know.