Monday, December 22, 2014

Discrimination and the Holidays!

tl;dr version in last two paragraphs :P

I was a very awkward child and teen. I tried desperately to be cool and at every turn I was foiled... by me. Whether that was because of my questionable fashion sense (I still stand by bicycle shorts and a neon-colored alien shirt being a fashion statement) or the fact my ideal man was William Riker (then Worf… then Riker again…. Damn you Deanna Troi!) from Star Trek TNG, I just nerded out from a very early age and stayed there comfortably. However, I always took solace in my own imaginary world.

When I hit high school I found out that there were other people who lived in their own imaginary world together in a magical place called Neverwinter Nights (NWN). For those of you not familiar with NWN it was a computer game based on DnD 3.5 that also had online servers that hosted a number of different types of games, one of them being role play. In NWN I was no longer drama class geek Liz (yes I nerd-geekdom took a myriad of fantastical forms), but Arinye a fearless human Barbarian! I had found my people. There was a whole community out there of people who wanted to escape their real lives (or at least take a siesta from them) and live in a pretend world full of magic.

When I entered University I continued playing NWN though the community began to dwindle. So, in my first year I played /a lot/ of Fable on my lap top. When I say a lot, I mean I still know that my health is low and that I don’t have any food or potions. Almost serendipitously, while I was portaling my way through Albion I would hear from the next dorm room over an adventurer doing the same thing… at the same time. Being an introvert and most importantly the Hero of Albion (obviously having no time to socialize) I never decided to knock on my neighbour's door and talk to them about this awesome game we were playing.

Finally, in my second year of Uni, I was in the library on a computer and a mohawked guy with a Metallica t-shirt turns to me and says, “Hey! Do you like role play games?”

“Yes!” I turned to him, “Hey your playing Fable all the time aren’t you?”

This is how I met my guys - Martijn, Carlo, and Ewout. Without pause they were my friends and we were spending every available night playing some sort of TTRPG. Whether it was Vampire the Masquerade, Dungeons and Dragons, or BattleTech we lived in our own little microcosm of  friends, junk food, and games. It was amazing.

How nice was it to be in University and just have good friends and fun games to play? I was the token girl in our group, but that didn’t stop my guys from teasing the shit out of me and treating me just like everyone else. We eventually had to move dorms and lived in two houses separated by three other houses. I still remember the lame 13:00 ‘trudging’ through the streets in my PJs to make it to Martijn and Carlo’s house so they could feed me breakfast and get out of my fricken way cause I wanted to play on their Nintendo!

Later in University I met other girls who liked playing games and I realized I wasn’t the lone lady who gamed - even more awesome.

Carlo and Martijn looking particularly awesome during Carnival

Nowadays there is a lot of controversy surrounding women, games, gender, and discrimination. I also realize that I had a Cinderella story in terms of people just being kind and friendly to me. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for anyone who has ever been told they are not good enough to be part of the awesome games I play or who has just been picked on because they are different. However, I will say this:

When I meet a new gamer, an old gamer, or someone who just has a passing interest in what I am doing I try to channel in inner mohawked, Metallica t-shirt wearing Martijn. I try to be warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic. I try to be a positive memory they think back on when they reminisce in their blogs about gaming... The one who shows them the most awesome hobby in the world! Anything else is just doing a disservice to myself and the awesome games I play.

Any way that is my two cents! I hope you guys have a fantastic holiday season!