Editor’s note: A hearty welcome to asiangrrlMN, a dear friend who can usually be found at Angry Black Lady Chronicles. She’s also a prolific fiction writer, and you can find some of her excellent zombie-oriented work at Dead Shuffle.
Hi, I’m asiangrrlMN, culturegamer’s partner in crime for his Let’s Play Magicka! series. I am not a gamer, nor do I play one on TV. I didn’t game much in my youth, save for the occasional game of Pitfall or Ms. Pac-Man, and who among us of a certain age can say differently?
In the past five years or so, I played casual games, but I shied away from hardcore games. Let me be brutally honest – I saw the racism, sexism, and homophobia that runs through the online gaming community, and I wanted no part of it. I’m not a joiner by nature, and I definitely didn’t want to be part of a community that was hostile to me. Plus, I had an outmoded idea of what hardcore games were – mostly first-person shooters in the vein of Call of Duty—and I had little-to-no interest in that kind of thing. It is with this blithe ignorance that I dismissed hardcore video games – until I met Ian, a.k.a. “culturegamer.”
Ian is passionate about games, and through our many discussions about them, he’s helped me see that they are more than ‘just games’ – they have cultural value and can be more engrossing than movies or television. I was intrigued and requested that he find me a game. After much consideration, he suggested Torchlight to me, and I was hooked. I played the hell out of that game, and I loved being involved in a miniature world of dungeon-crawling, monster-smiting, and fishing! I had a pet cat, Enigma, and if I fed her fish, she’d transmogrify into other creatures with varying powers . I played as the Vanquisher in a large part because she’s female and looks vaguely Asian, and I quickly learned to love Mulan and her trusty Toxic Ribauldequin. I also realized that I vastly preferred ranged characters to melee characters, and I’ve stuck with the former mostly in my subsequent forays into RPGs.
One thing I appreciate about the games I’ve played is that in most of them, I can choose to play as a female and in some of them, I can modify the face to look as Asian as possible. It may seem like a little thing, but it makes me happy to have a character who looks like me, somewhat, and I think that’s actual not a little thing at all. As I noted earlier, part of the reason I never got into gaming is because I didn’t feel there was room for me as a bi Taiwanese-American woman. The fact that I can play a character that somewhat resembles me makes me more inclined to game.
What I’ve learned into my fairly-recent foray into games is that I enjoy them for a variety of reasons. I play a game like Little Inferno when I just want to chill out and relax. There is not much more to the game than meets the eye – you burn up lots of shit, several in combination – and if you accept it for what it is, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. If I want to reduce my stress, I play the aforementioned Torchlight (or its sequel, Torchlight 2) or the similar Diablo 3. After a few hours slaying spectres, felwings, manticores, yakotaurs, goatmen, corrupted angels, and other monsters/bosses, I’m more relaxed and able to deal with the real world.
If I want a challenge, I play Dark Souls, which lives up to its tagline, “Prepare to Die.” This game sucks the air right out of you, and there have been several times I’ve felt like ragequitting the game for good. I can only play in fairly-short chunks because it’s so all-consuming, draining, and stressful, but I also have never felt as elated as I did when I finally, finally killed the Bell Gargoyles with the help of Solaire. Dark Souls teaches me to accept that repeated failure is a part of life, and yes, the trite saying is true – practice does make me die with less frequency and eventually, I’ll kill the fucking boss who is way too OP and often comes with unpleasant surprises—not cool, From Software, putting that abyss there when the Gaping Dragon is already a pain in the ass. But I digress.
When I want strategy and puzzle-solving combined with football, I fire up Blood Bowl: Chaos Edition and play one of the solo campaigns or challenge Ian’s Orcs with my Dark Elves.* The game is like chess, in that it’s turn-based, and it’s also based on dice rolls, which means figuring out probabilities—oh, who the hell am I kidding? Yes, Blood Bowl is all that, but it’s also the most fun, bonkers game I’ve ever played. It’s a hyper-aggressive game in which you are encouraged to stomp the shit out of your opponents, with the added benefit that one of them may DIE on the field in the process. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at first, but slowly, the game began to make sense, and now, when I score a touchdown, I actually kinda know what I’m doing and why. Blood Bowl has helped me realize that I may not be as averse to or as bad at strategic games as I had once feared; I think I may be ready to take on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and, gulp, StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty.
As you can see, there are many reasons I now play video games. I play them to relax, to escape, to challenge my brain, to socialize with others from time to time, and to engage in an interactive experience unlike any I’ve had with movies or television. In addition, as I game, I’m learning to persevere through adversity, to play nicely with others,** and to enjoy the journey as much as the destiny. While I may never join the online gaming community despite the fact that it’s becoming a more diverse crowd (sometimes in spite of itself) or call myself a gamer, I can say with confidence that I will continue to play video games LIKE A BOSS.
*Ian and I will be doing a Let’s Play Blood Bowl of one of our games soon. You really have to see it to appreciate the insanity.
**NOT one of my strong points. Trust me.