I have a long, involved history with video games. My childhood best friend and I bonded over Pokémon while others took to playing ball or drawing with chalk during recess. The first video game I ever owned was Pokémon Yellow. For the past twenty years I have been absolutely immersed in the world of video games, from the moment I got a Gameboy Color for Christmas when I was ten, to this past year when I finally caved and bought a Nintendo Switch.
Boys thought it was weird that I liked games, but as I grew older I found friends in high school of both genders who appreciated the hobby and we all played together in our free time. Late at night on weekends we would stay up slamming out riffs in Guitar Hero or racing in Mario Kart until our parents became upset. “You’re too old to still be playing video games,” they would scold us. We would only laugh.
Towards the end of high school I became interested in video games that emphasized social interaction, such as World of Warcraft, one of the most popular video games in history and the largest massively multiplayer online title to date as far as I am aware. In these I would spend hours working with large groups of players over online voice chat programs to slay dragons and warlords, all to collect powerful armor for our avatars.
Despite living across the country from one another, we learned about each other’s life stories and personal interests in intimate detail. Gladly, some of these friendships have stayed with me for many years, from game to game, onto social media, and sometimes even meeting in person.
In college I began to play competitive games, where the friendly dynamics went from social to a cut-throat interest in victory. I enjoyed the teamwork and winning most of all. As an added benefit, online team-based games allowed me to maintain relationships with local friends who moved away to college or for work.
Some of my male friends from high school joke that me and our girl friends “spoiled” them to the novelty of “gamergirls”. They were used to it and paid it no mind as young adult men. When they would meet a female gamer in college they wouldn’t call special attention to her hobby and sometimes that would actually surprise her as she was so used to being asked about her gaming interests, interrogated, or doubted.
I am extremely grateful to have accumulated a large network of online friends and acquaintances in a wide variety of genres over the years. During college I worked in video game retail where my knowledge came in handy. I served on the planning team for the campus’s video game club, which hosted several large events per semester.
I’ve traveled states to help admin tournaments in person for the Gwent CCG Esports scene, and these days I run a large online gaming community on Discord. I’ve even been a guest on a few podcasts in the past. Thanks to these experiences and others, I have gained a deep understanding of how different types of gamers interpret what is going on within the video game world.
Gamer culture has become interconnected globally since online multiplayer games provide shared experiences across national borders. Stereotypes about people who play video games are changing, gamer demographics (age, ethnicity, and gender) are diversifying, and the society seems to be gradually taking gaming more seriously as a hobby and less as child’s play.
So what’s the point of this post, Angie? Good question. If you’ve read my “About Me” page, you’ll know I have done a lot of academic writing about video game and esports related subjects in the past. This post is meant to supply background context for upcoming gamer culture posts I am working on, taken and altered from my past academic pieces. So stay tuned!
My question for you is: What does your background in gaming look like and how has it affected your life?
Thank you for reading!
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