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Birth of a Gamer: Are You Sure You Want me to do This?

By Heather "elki" Haselkorn
Vol. 2, Issue 2 
November 16, 1999 

My gaming days began to wane during high school and finally came to an end after my freshman year of college. I moved into my own apartment and had to choose between buying games and eating. Since starving to death would obviously not have been a good thing, I chose to eat. I spent the next three years virtually gameless and clueless, and the gamer in me died. Do you hear the violins? Do you feel sorry for me yet? It's a sad story, one of the saddest, I tell ya. But it does get better.

In the beginning of my senior year of college, I met our illustrious editor, loony himself, in a history class. I thought he was insane. I thought he was completely out of his mind. I thought he was having a hell of a lot more fun than me. I mean, there he was, carving out a career for himself, doing something that most of us just do for fun. I was amazed that people could actually devote their entire lives to developing, playing, and writing about games. And that was just what they did for a living--after that they went home and played more games! Adult men (and they are mostly men) spent their entire lives doing this.

Once again, the double standard struck me. Where are all the women? Sure, I know some women who love to play, but I've heard enough of loony's stories about male-dominated LAN parties to wonder what happened to the other half of the population. How many other women were told when they were younger that they should find something more appropriate to do with their free time? Things are a bit different now, as it seems to be more acceptable for girls to play video games and to learn how to use computers for more than just typing papers. But that's about ten years too late for me, and for many other women in their twenties and older.

I have to wonder, in fact, if it's any coincidence that the "Birth of a Gamer" column is being written by a woman, and that the person who did it before me was also a woman. This isn't due to deliberate reinforcement of old stereotypes about how women can't play games. Rather, it kind of turns out that way by default--how many men in my age group can say that they've never played a video game? So I guess it makes sense to have a woman write this column, because it's much more common to meet women who are new to gaming.

When loony asked me to write this column, it was because I was the only person he knew who really could write it. My hiatus from gaming means that I've missed out on so much development that I might as well be starting from scratch. And it's true...some of the stuff I've been seeing is absolutely amazing. I used to be able to pick up a game and know exactly what to do with it. Now I'm so busy just taking in what's on my screen that I have to remind myself to actually play the darned thing.

I don't really have a plan for how I'm going to write this column. I'm assuming I'll just get a bunch of games, play them, and write what I think. If you don't like my rantings, well, sorry. I tend to get very opinionated, like it or not. If you think I'm a complete idiot, you're probably at least half-right. If my references are dated and my terminology is, well, nonexistent, you'll just have to forgive me. And I tend to digress into flowery prose that leads nowhere. But hey, I'm a pretentious English major, and now I have a byline. And yes, Lara Croft's perky breasts really do piss me off.

-Heather "elki" Haselkorn actually enjoys this.

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Birth of a Gamer is © 1999 Heather Haselkorn. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, you cartoonish villian, you.