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2, Issue 2
November 16, 1999
of a Gamer:
Are you sure you want me to do this?
original intention was to stay as far away from loonygames as
possible. It just wasn't my scene, I didn't understand any of
it, and I just didn't care enough to, say, get pissed off about
Lara Croft. But I eventually found myself actually reading loonygames
and wanting to play some of the games that were mentioned in its
articles. On the whole, I thought it was very well done, even
though I still had no idea what was going on. Heck, I even wrote
in to the mailbag and won a t-shirt.
loony called me and asked if I wanted to take over the "Birth
of a Gamer" column, my first response was yes. Followed by,
"Are you sure you want me to do this," as though I'd
break the server or something. I guess part of my reaction was
because after months of being surrounded by his surreal world,
I sort of wanted in. I'd also finally have a legitimate reason
for spending hours in front of my computer for "research"
purposes. And of course, I can't deny the fact that I'm a pretentious
English major who just wants her own byline. Regardless of my
motives, here I am, writing what I hope will become a regular
column about gaming from a non-gamer's perspective.
isn't really giving birth to a gamer; it's more like a "rebirth."
Up until the last couple of years of high school, I played lots
of games, mostly badly, and solely on consoles. When I was four
years old my dad bought me an Atari. Actually, I think he really
bought it for himself, but he told my mother it was for me and
my infant brother. I spent hours playing Pac-Man, Donkey
Kong, Space Invaders, you name it. I kept buying games
for that thing up until I was about twelve. I still quiver at
the memory of my mother throwing it away when we moved to a new
apartment. How I mourn the loss of my precious Pong!
said Atari was eventually replaced by the NES. From then on I
realized that the only two games I'd ever be good at were Super
Mario Bros. and Tetris, which I now have again, thanks
to my Game Boy Color. Anyway, I played these games to exhaustion.
I think that this was also about that time (correct me if I'm
wrong--I probably am) that the wars began and new consoles seemed
to be coming out in droves at exorbitant prices. My parents couldn't
justify shelling out the money to buy these for me--they said
I should spend my time doing other things.
imagine my ire when they bought my brothers a Sega Genesis later
that year. Video games weren't an appropriate pastime for their
tree-climbing, baseball-playing, mud-stained daughter, yet my
brothers could take out all their aggression on a television screen
any time. This was the first time that I realized there was a
double standard when it came to video games. I don't think my
parents meant any harm. They were probably looking out for my
best interests, and trying to steer me toward "girl"
activities that were more socially acceptable. I almost hit the
roof when they bought my brothers a Super NES as well, but I eventually
gave up the battle and settled into getting my ass whooped by
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
actually enjoys this.
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