Here’s to the Late Adopters: We all want to be legitimate so what story do you tell when trying to fit in?
The intersection of women and games has been getting a ton of column inches lately. Sexist working environments, problematic armor on female characters, the success of Nintendo’s new majority female dev team, and even the dearth of female enemies in games. We have seen tons of new voices joining in to talk turkey on gender in games. But I noticed something: lots of women, especially when giving talks at conferences, whip out images of themselves playing video games as kids. It might be a faded picture of a little girl, with bed head and one sock, propped up on a mountain of pillows hammering Sonic the Hedgehog moves into a controller far too big for her hands. Or a pair of sisters, each wearing one of dad’s shirts hanging to their knees, fighting over turns at the keyboard. The pictures are cute and heartwarming and are frankly not helping.
I love people who discover at age 7 an all-consuming passion for video games, work hard and grow up to become world class game developers. There’s nothing wrong with a childhood shaped by gaming, it just isn’t the only option. We all get nostalgic for games. Personally, I have a touchy-feely longing for my first time with Oblivion. It was my first foray into an Elder Scrolls game and it blew me away. You mean I get to be an elf and sneak around with a giant bow shooting the heads of goodies and baddies from the shadows? Wait and there are a library’s worth of books to read in-game, packed with lore and backstory? Sign me up! It wasn’t the first video game I’d ever played; I’d fiddled with friends’ Nintendos and washed a few sticky arcade standups with waves of frustration, but Oblivion was the first game that felt like it had been made just for me. I was 21.
Yup. I didn’t get into games until after college. Shock! Flabbergast-ration! Accusations of being a dreaded ‘Late Adopter!’ Sure I picked up the passion as an adult, but late isn’t lousy.
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