Why I Quit Gaming and Why I Have Returned.
Okay. Storytime. I quit gaming seriously at some point in 2010. For a young boy. We’ll call him Jimothy.
Jimothy was a young boy. Who played baseball, and sounded like Prince Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender. I had loved him from the moment I saw him in the 4th grade. He was so interesting with his baseball playing and his voice and his tracksuits his mother made him wear. I on the other hand was an interesting case. I played video games, wore cargo pants and giant hoodies, and would wrestle anyone who was ready. But I did love Jimothy. He was so sweet and so special. So! I asked my other friend Jean-Luc Picard one day to ask Jimothy how he felt about me.
Picard came back with solemn news. According to Jimothy (read this in Prince Zuko’s voice) “She’s not even a real girl. She wears boy clothes and plays video games like a boy. She’s fun to talk to but she's not a girl.”
The next day, much to my mother's joy, I told her I wanted her to pick out clothes for me. I was done wearing my cousin's hand-me-downs it was time to get serious about being “a girl”.
I went from cargo shorts to bellbottom jeans. I went from my giant Adidas hoodie to jean jackets. I went from beanies to headbands. My favorite color changed from blue to purple. I turned into someone else entirely. The only thing I could never do was wear makeup. I also was a devout Christian and make-up was for Jezebels. I became a woman in the most Proverbs 31 way. The matriarchal prayers were answered I wasn’t a lesbian!
I’ll never forget the way Jimothy looked at me when I came to our school's Christmas party in a dress. He told me I looked like a princess. I hung on his every word. Even when he started dating this white horse-faced girl named Karen. I knew he would turn towards me. I just had to get girlier. I had to get bitchier. I had to be seen more. I had to get on stage. I had to make a scene. I had to be enough. I was more than enough. I was talented. I was a woman. I was tasteful! I did everything he, I mean God asked of me. I was trying to be perfect.
I remember being invited to a party with the popular kids in middle school. Horse faced Karen was there and all the other girls who I envied for their attention. If only my God allowed me to be a hussy. Then I would have been able to ring in any man I wanted. We went to this party and as soon as I got there everyone was playing video games. My heart quickened. I was ready to be in my zone. Then, I heard Frenchie (another girl in the room) say “Ohmygod what's this an XBawks?” and I remembered. Whoops. I’m a girl. I can’t get into this stuff. I had to play like a girl in order to get liked. So I did. I purposely lost every game of Super Smash Bros that night. I said things like “OhmyGod I’m SO bad at this?” or “Wait what character am I?” or “This is SOO difficult.” When none of that was true. I had a Gamecube at home and I would destroy anyone in my path if I could. I played CPU’s at the highest level these wack ass boys would be my sons if I was playing truthfully. But I couldn’t. I needed Jimothy to see that I was worth his adoration and worship. I needed them to see that I was feminine. I needed God to know I wasn’t a lesbian.
Anyway. Fast forward to years of doing this. Getting a boyfriend. Still playing dumb. Playing safe girl games like Pokemon and Animal Crossing. The half feminist movement coming out where girls can now play games but they have to look a certain way and play a certain way to be acceptable to the male patriarchal gaze. Skip through the sexual assault that happened in college right after faking not knowing how to play smash bros again. Pretending that I wasn’t assaulted. Then trying to please said assaulter by delving deeper into the feminine pool into insanity. Lots of therapy. Lots of therapy. Moving to New York. Trying to prove to a man that I could make it there. More therapy. The virus that changed everything. Losing all my money. My job. My small empire of sand. And now we’re here.
I went home. I had nothing to do. The Nintendo Switch is an acceptable female console. So I played it. I then played the one game I had been avoiding. Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I decided to turn it on, and I realized something terrifying. I had been pretending not to know how to play for so long, that now I actually seriously had no clue how to play this game. I felt such shame. My eyes now brimming with tears. I played long into the night. Until I could at least defeat the lowest level CPU. I then beat the adventure mode of the game, and kept going and kept beating CPU’s and getting stronger and better. I then found my way to other games, that I used to enjoy. I also have been dressing down lately and finding more solace in sweatpants and hoodies than in jeans and professional tight-fitting women's clothing.
I wanted to be so many things to so many men. I wanted them to see me. I wanted to fill a deep father wound with Jimothies. I had become so obsessed with making men happy and comfortable around me that I completely lost myself.
I no longer want to be acceptable. I don’t shame women who are gaming and playing Animal Crossing (I do that too!!) but we claim to be in a feminist society but I read the bios on Twitch gaming channels of women (mine included) and a lot of them sound like this.
“Hii I suck at games. Come watch me be bad at this.”
“Hey. My name is Destiny and I play COD I think I’m pretty terrible lol. Come in if you dare.”
“Hey watch me play these games which are designated for my gender and lol I’m pretty bad at them please accept me.”
Maybe the last one was kind of on the nose but honestly, this is how I’ve been feeling as of late. We are allowed to get good at games. We don’t have to be an acceptable amount of good in order to appease the male gaze. We don’t have to capitulate to their desires even when we are trying to feed something that gives us joy.
I have started gaming again because I like to play HARD. I played really hard on these tinder profiles in 2015 looking for love in all the wrong places. I played really hard on changing my whole personality in middle school even lying to myself. I played really hard in cheating myself out of a gaming experience because I wanted to seem like society's ideal woman.
I’m done with that. I’m back. For real this time, and specifically in SSB Ultimate. I’m coming for all of you.