Hello my Friendlies, Guardians, Spartans, Inquisitors, Heroes, and the like. It’s my inaugural blog post here at Daffodil Gamer, and I wanted to start by delving in deep to why I game. I plan to use this blog as a place to catalog and explore all of the things I love about the gaming medium, and the very unique way it allows storytellers and audiences to come together; especially today, when that relationship often evolves in real time with DLC, hotfixs, exploits and the gamer community’s feedback having a direct impact on what developers offer us and when.
So why do I game? Games are something I grew up around. With a father who was a computer engineer, I believe he looked into games and saw the future. My teeth were cut on a square NES controller in his lap as he played the O.G. Zelda. It was dangerous to go alone, so he took me. I waited in extreme anticipation to see the princess at the end of the game. “Dad! Have we found the princess yet?!” I was always on the look out for pretty princesses to look up to, and soon Princess Peach came into my life. One of my earliest memories was when I finally got to play as Ms. Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2. Representation matters guys, especially to 4 year olds.
And I realized at that very moment that girls can play too.
Princesses kicking butt has always been a hallmark of a great game or film (I’m looking at you Star Wars).
I’m still waiting to play as Zelda, but I digress…
But then, my life pivoted and my dad died, and soon games became a way to feel close to a father I could no longer tangibly connect. Holding a controller often felt like holding his hand, and I knew without a doubt, each game I played, each game I still play, “Man, Dad would love this.”
And so the super nintendo came and went, the N64, and my horizons of gaming expanded, but then, oh then, I discovered the RPG.
Final Fantasy you guys. Title that got me through my angsty tween and teenage years. Nobody understood me like Squall and Cloud.
And Nobody was as badass as Sephiroth (and lets face it, he still holds the ultimate baddie title and always will). And admit it, you cried when Aerith died.
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
But really, those years were hard. My mom and I moved, a lot. I didn’t have many friends, and I was a little girl, growing up without a father in a nasty world. There was an incredible amount of bullying in middle school and a deep loneliness in high school. Bullying before it was a buzzword, cyberbullying before we even knew what it was. There were some incredibly low points in high school when the only thing keeping me going was the story.
While I’ve always loved books, when RPGs had my heart, let face it, they basically were books. Everything needed to be read on screen, no voice cast, no dubbing, just me and the text. And one thing Final Fantasy knew was story. Outcasts facing incredible odds, often at odds with themselves. There were characters who believed and followed blindly in the lies the big bad’s were selling, sympathetic bullies, other’s found themselves so overwhelmingly angry, or apathetic, or both reluctant heroes. And I related. When everything else in my world was crumbling, when I was alone and afraid and missing my Dad, when I had just been called horrible names online, when I really saw no way forward, no future, I could always play the next chapter, and realize the hero always wins. Maybe not in the way we think it ought to be, maybe at great cost, but they prevail. Sephiroth fails, Cloud is victorious, even if he lost Aerith in the process, even if things were irrevocably changed. Even if Nanaki lost his whole family. Games showed me I could be okay even if.
And so in a time of great hopelessness games gave me hope.
But can we stop here for a minute? Lets just step back for two seconds. Pause. Breathe. You see dear friendlies, I was alone a lot during this period not because I chose to be, I didn’t play alone because I didn’t want company and I didn’t miss the heyday of Halo: Combat Evolved because I was too busy with FF over on my PSX. Nope. I flat out wasn’t invited. Peach taught me girls could play too, but high school taught me I wasn’t allowed. When it was known that I was gamer, I couldn’t possibly be a “real” one, or “any good” I would be insta quizzed on my knowledge and asked to provide a verbal resume. But be careful! Because it’s dangerous to know too much, lest the poor lads feel threatened. Or sometimes I just wasn’t included because who would want a girl at a LAN party? Sentiments I’ve still heard repeated as a woman in her (yikes) 30’s. “This is a mans world, where the manly men come to escape from the oppressive ovaries, who would want their woman here?” I like to think that times are changing, and I do think progress has been made as we women shatter the PVP glass ceiling, but we aren’t there yet.
But now I shall step off of my small feminist pedestal lest I alienate most of my intended readership and I shall continue…
Because one day I met a boy. And when I told him I was a gamer, I wasn’t met with a quiz, I was just asked which ones. And like true geeks, we ran over to his TV and he showed me all of his games. Which yes if you were wondering, was incredibly sexy. Then I showed him mine. And of course at that point marriage was guaranteed. Quick! To the Altar! And we pledged ourselves to love honor and game for the rest of our lives.
And this wonderful man led my into what I like to call Chapter three of Daffodil’s gaming history: The time in which she was taught the awesomeness that is the first person shooter and how to properly play.
This my dear friendlies happened at the launch of HALO 3. We went to a midnight release, and since the hubs and I had no children at the time that meant we gamed all night, and into the sweet, sweet morning. I’m thinking we went to bed around noon that next day and it was glorious. And who needed LAN parties anymore because XBOX live was being perfected. PVP became my bread and butter and learning to navigate through a first person shooter was a great thrill. It did actually take work and practice after years of RPGs and third person story telling, but by the end I was just as big of a sucker for Sierra-117 as the next person, maybe more, because remember that book thing? Yeah I read all those halo books too (and Dragon Age. And seriously Bungie, hire a writer and write some Destiny books, inquiring minds want to read.) But really some of my best memories are of my husband yelling at me no to stop accidentally killing him because (friendly fire) as I *accidentally* energy sworded him… Because that’s love.
And really, to me that is love. Because if we can get real again for a minute, life takes you up and down, and if I am measuring my life by game launches then right around Halo 4, my life crumbled again. The hubs and I hit a rough patch. And I mean ROUGH. There were times where we weren’t sure we would make it. Divorce was a word that was spoken a lot. We went into counseling, and he got help for a pornography addiction as we worked through an affair. Things that devastate marriages were going nuclear on my own. My days were filled with caring for a newborn and a 2 year old, while finding my way through the complete cluster&@#$ of a dissolving marriage and millions of appointments. Counseling, therapy, church, mentors, so many marriage books, so much talking. We would talk things through until we were out of words, and our mouths were dry, and our tears were spent, and there was nothing left to say, but still so much left to resolve.
And what do you do in those moments? When the air is thick with heartache and your are just there? When the hurt permeates so thoroughly that being in the same room hurts? But also the love? When you are choosing to both work it out. To fight for each other, and fight for love? How do you survive it? How do you survive what the world has deemed unsurvivable.
My Friendlies, you game. Because now that there has been healing, and now that there has been resolution and now that we have made our way out of that quagmire together and have come out stronger for it, looking back, what I realized, is we gamed together. Always.
We would put all of the crap on hold, and we would each grab a controller, and we would sit down and let the Master Chief take us on an adventure. We followed him and Cortana through deep frozen space on the Forward Unto Dawn as we unraveled Promethean tech and what it meant to be a Spartan. what it meant to be human.
They were supposed to take care of each other, and so were we.
When we couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other, we sat on the couch together and we co-oped. When there were no words left we played PVP, red vs. blue and we could laugh with each other at our own epic fails because the tears had all been cried. Because even when things were falling apart, underneath the horribleness of it all, we were still best friends, and we were still gamers, and the games that had brought us together, were helping us hold onto that tiny thread.
Because couples that game together, stay together.
All of this of brings us up to the original launch of Destiny, when the Hubs got me my very own PS4 for our anniversary so we could play online together since split screen… well RIP split screen. I still love RPGS, my favorite game of all time is probably Dragon Age: Inquisition. Sheer, unadulterated story is still my favorite thing and always will be. Stories help us define and make sense of our own lives.
And so now, after years of Destiny together, another kid in the mix, and my husband and the awesome Destiny clan he runs, I find myself at the launch of Destiny 2 wanting to share my journey as a gamer, a woman, a wife and mother through the gaming world. I won’t have breaking news here, there are so many people who do that better, I wont have cutting edge reviews or loot exploits. This won’t be a first in the know sort of blog, but rather a thoughtful look into the world of gaming that we all share in. What I think works, what doesn’t work, with bit of depths and hopefully some levity.
And that’s what I think makes gaming so powerful, the ability for the audience to interact with not only the storytellers, but with each other, and in meaningful ways. I may have a give away here and there, and for sure I will be linking to my Husband’s clan occasionally. So thanks for reading! Check back for updates, and if you so desire let me know in the comments which games coincide with your life’s major plot points.
The Daffodil Gamer