Last week the TSG staff attended IndieCade, a convention in Culver city, where we got to test the newest independent games. We met many game developers pushing the industry forward with their creative games and many game bloggers pushing the industry forward with their forward-thinking ideals. The ladies at FemHype embody the latter with their blog focused on creating “a safe environment for all women and nonbinary folks to discuss, review, and visually share their love of video games.”
At their IndieCade booth, FemHype showrunners Jillian and Paige proposed a simple yet poignant question to the festival goers.
Anybody should be able to claim that they are a gamer without needing to qualify themselves. As an extension of their campaign we asked our writers and other people from the festival the same question in this IndieCade edition of TSG Asks!
I picked up gaming for the flashing lights and pretty pictures but I stayed for a different reason. As of recent, I really only play games with my friends. I enjoy the rush of our pseudo-competitive attitudes especially when we play Mario Party 6. We play 50 turn games as they require the utmost focus, long-term planning and button mashing abilities. It stays fresh because we find new strategies each time we play meaning every night someone different would get crowned the Superstar. Without this game I don’t think I would have ventured into other party games or even be as interested as I am in table top right now. I guess Mario Party 6 made me stay a gamer because it gave me the opportunity to socialize as well as watch my fellow players adapt and get better alongside me.
I’ve given the word “gamer” a lot of thought this year. I prided myself on achieving gamer status, the confidence to tell a stranger that yes, I was in fact, a gamer and a girl, and I kicked butt. However, lately I’ve taken to not liking the word gamer, not because I don’t like games, but because being a gamer has subjective qualifiers. You can’t do this or you have to do that. And everyone’s definition of a gamer is different.
I can say that the first game that I truly invested myself in, through understanding its lore, my character and her skills, and the community, was World of Warcraft. I started playing this game, not because I was interested in playing it (I thought it was very nerdy and I was academic-nerdy, not DND-nerdy), but because I wanted to understand what my then-boyfriend-now-husband did for a living. He showed me his feral druid. “Look, you can be a kitty!” That sealed the deal. Since the first months of Burning Crusade, I’ve mained a feral druid, and have several high-achieving alts who I’ve raided and pvped (pvp’d?) with.
If I have to bring this full circle and give my interpretation of a “gamer,” then I say it’s enjoying a game that you play consistently, not because you have to, or because your group of friends does, but because you get fulfillment from it. The same with readers. You don’t have to read one genre to be a reader.
The game series that truly made me feel like a real gamer was the Fire Emblem series. Before that, my forays into gaming were largely as Player 2 in co-op mode with my twin brother…or watching as he would take over my game out of frustration. When I first started playing Fire Emblem about ten years ago, everything suddenly clicked into place. The campaign/turn-based format was perfect for me and I loved that I didn’t have to struggle with camera angles. I especially appreciated that the female characters were sensibly dressed and were comparably powerful (in terms of strength and social influence) to the male characters. Path of Radiance was the first game I beat on my own and it opened up a whole new world for me to explore through gaming.
I don’t think any one game made me a gamer, I’ve always been interested in games since I figured out that a PlayStation wasn’t an actual place where one went to play that may or may not be a train station. I think what really got me going was when I received my first real game that I owned, which was a Game Boy Color and a copy of Pokemon Blue for Christmas one year. After that I was in deep. I couldn’t pronounce ‘Critical Hit’ but I desperately wanted anything that could be played on a cartridge or a disc.
Like Steven, I can’t recall a specific game that made me into a gamer. I just recall video games always being a part of my life just as much as playing sports, or taking music lessons. It was just a normal part of growing up. But I do have distinct memories playing video games like when I had this knock-off Gameboy clone based on Power Rangers when I was three. I remember clinging onto my brother’s waist as we rode his bicycle to Blockbuster to rent Bomberman and Hercules for the PlayStation. I’ll never forget the first time I played Pokemon on my magenta colored Gameboy, the first console I’ve ever owned. There’s not a particular game that made me fall in love with video games. They have always been a part of my life and are tied to many key stages in my development.
The first game I completely remember playing is Jak and Daxter on the PS2. That game was funny, filled with adventure, had a unique art style, and was so much fun to play – there was nothing stopping me from that point on becoming a gamer. Jak and Daxter holds a special place in my heart as it was the first game that I fell in love with and solidified my passion for video games. Since then, Naughty Dog has always been my favorite developer, and I’ve been playing video games nonstop.
After a while of introspection, I have come to the bizarre conclusion that I am a gamer because of a Super Monkey Ball 2 for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was my first Gamecube game, so that alone gives it significance since the Gamecube ended up being probably the most significant factor in me becoming a gamer. But even more so, I think that I passed a certain threshold in gaming with Super Monkey Ball 2. In my opinion, a person becomes a gamer when they stop trying to beat a game because it’s fun and star trying to beat a game because it’s hard. Super Monkey Ball 2, despite its absurd and childish name, gets hard, but I stuck with it. I put hours of labor into beating this silly game and, when I finally did, I learned that overcoming challenges in gaming through grueling work, oddly enough, is really the best part.
I don’t know why or how I became a gamer. Games have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. But the first game I remember really showing me how special gaming could be was Star Fox 64. This was the first time I really felt like I wasn’t simply playing a game, but having an experience. This game marked the introduction of the Nintendo 64 Rumble Pack, allowing me to literally feel the game. This game presented me with a story that I could effect and directly see the results of my accomplishments or failures. But most importantly, more than any game I had played before, Star Fox 64 felt like it was part of a whole living world, not just some levels stuffed into a game cartridge. It was more than the sum of its parts. Today, I enjoy a wide variety of game genres and experiences, but the ones I am still most impressed with are the ones that convince me that a world as outlandish as one where starfighter-piloting forest animals with robot legs battle giant robot ape heads throughout the solar system, just might actually exist somewhere.
Without a doubt, Halo: Combat Evolved made me the gamer I am today. The game came out right when I was entering kindergarten, and it was the first split screen game I owned, perfect for when I was making my first real friends. I would look forward to playing the cooperative campaign with my friends after school in a way I never had for any game previously. In addition to also being the first shooter (and M rated game at that), it was the first game which had a narrative I could comprehend and be engaged by. Halo’s expanded canon has always been one of the best in gaming, so the novels were also some of the first “long” books that I read recreationally, which made the game a-ok in my parents’ eyes.
Friends of TSG
The first game that “made” me a gamer (and the first game I probably ever played) was The Incredible Machine. There was something that hooked me about that game. I felt a sense of awe and surprise when I saw what I had built and then saw how these contraptions would fare when the ball was introduced. That’s what I love about games, they let you try and experience things without fear of getting hurt if you fail (unlike maybe more reality-based experiences like learning to ride a bike, yikes!).
What game started your journey? Comment your answer below!