of a Gamer:
By Elaine O'Neal
The chronicles of a gaming newbie
t's a question I've been mulling over in my mind during subway down time, but especially when a Saturday night Guinness-fueled "meeting" ended with me going home with about 12 games in my arms. One might attribute it to the simple fact that my best friend asked me to do it and I won't refuse her anything. One might also attribute it to the obvious fact that it would help me understand what my best friend is talking about when she excitedly says "3D Accleleration" or "CTF" Really, I'd like to share some of her excitement but all I can do is nod and smile and hope she'll notice my blank look and explain at some point. Communication and comprehension are conducive to camaraderie...or so I've heard.
And then I have to admit that I'm actually curious. I accompanied a friend to a computer store the other day and walked through all the games with him, resisting my obsessive/compulsive urge to reorganize the boxes alphabetically and not really understanding the arrangement. All was fine and dandy until I happened by the display with a huge neon sign proclaiming "Just for Girls." Millions of boxes with vapid, vacuous perfectly symmetrical faces with blank blue-eyed stares confronted me--BARBIE! Now before anybody starts thinking that I'm anti-Barbie, I'm not. There's a trunkful of my childhood obsession at my mother's house. Negative body image aside, I love Barbie. I just didn't quite understand why a)Barbie was reserved just for young girls and b)why the only non-Barbie-fied "games" were put out by two leading women's fashion magazines.
The little raging feminist inside me started shrieking in a way that did my Celtic bansidhe ancestors proud.
One my pet peeves is the assigning of innate sex-specific characteristics -- girls like fashion and shopping and boys like building model cars and staging mock battles with toy soldiers. To quote Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, "Fuck that shit."
Because did I forget to mention that my other favorite childhood pastime was improving my marksmanship skills? I was your typical pain-in-the-ass little sister and wanted to do everything my brothers did, including learn to target shoot. My father indulged this and my favorite memories of Indiana summers revolve around early mornings at a shooting range at an Isaac Walton nature preserve, sighting targets and shattering clay pigeons.
My afternoons, on the other hand, were spent shopping with my mother. Hey, I'm the daughter of an ex-beauty queen/model and when it comes to fashion, my mother is like the Borg--resistance is futile.
But my point is, the two interests are not mutually exclusive, which is why the fact that the "sissy" games reserved "just for girls" pissed me off. That, and the simple fact that I know I'm not that unique and that other women share my interests.
So, here I am with eight shoot-'em-up games, one "girl" game and a three more cerebrally challenging games stacked on my computer desk, just waiting to be played. I'm going to play these things and I'm going to react not only to the entertainment value of each game but also what I like to call the psychosocial value. I've also been instructed to play the games online so I will also be reacting to the community in which these games are played, a community about which I've heard some bad things (but some good things too). I want to find out for myself whether or not these are misconceptions. I understand that the online community is pretty much a microcosm but I wonder if the guarantee of anonymity and the appropriation of another persona somehow allows a few of the restrictions society does impose on behavior to fall by the wayside.
And as a caveat: I'm obviously going to be writing from a feminist (that's "straight, man-loving, penis-friendly, woman-proud, ignorance-hating, arguably-attractive successful woman" for those readers prone to stereotype) perspective and I just have to say that if a reader isn't interested in hearing it, then said reader may just want to ignore this column from now on. For those that continue to read the column, I can only say "thank you" for giving me your time and the opportunity to entertain, inform and maybe even challenge you.
Let the gaming begin!
- Elaine O'Neal is a regular contributor to loonygames.
|Credits: Birth of a Gamer logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 1998 Elaine O'Neal. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...we know where you live.|