I think it started as nothing more than an attempt to fit in - as the youngest girl with two older brothers, finding my own space, place and voice amongst the chatter was hard. A 4 and 6 year gap between us meant that my oldest brother barely acknowledged my existence, and my presence seemed like nothing but a constant annoyance to the second one. But there were these specific times, ones that involved computers, keyboards and mice where we genuinely gelled. Where they forget I was "just a little girl" and worked with me towards a common goal: to win a game.
(But of course things are different now that we're all grown - I love these two to bits, and I know it's very much returned!)
Those were some of the fondest memories of my childhood, playing custom Warcraft games that we sourced: X Hero Siege, Line Tower Wars, Tower Defence, Footman Frenzy. I hated the ones that pitted me against them because I knew they would always win (although I never stopped trying), and loved the ones where we were on the same team.
From there, my natural curiosity got me trying out almost everything they played. Amongst them I found certain niches of games that I loved - strategy and co-op games specifically. Because I loved puzzles and (of course) being a useful member of a team.
I was also a girl that loved to read, but only fiction. 1 Utama (a shopping mall) was my favourite place in the world because every time my family went there to shop, my parents would drop me off at MPH and let me be. And I would find a book, sit there, and read for hours until they were done with whatever errands they needed to complete. I loved (and still do) all things fantasy, sci-fi, fiction, romance. As long as it made my heart sing and swell, I was happy to be transported to whatever world, dimension or location those amazing authors wanted me to explore.
I think it was this trait that got addicted to roleplaying games, such as Ragnarok and World of Warcraft. The fact that I got to create my own unique character, to look however I wanted them to look, to fight monsters, do quests, travel to different lands; it was a dream come true to a dreamer. I would spend hours, as much as I could without my parents getting angry, in those fictional worlds, if not on the computer, then between pages of a book.
It wasn't until secondary school that gaming took a different, more emotional turn for me. Probably a common story amongst teenagers, and especially gamers, I did not feel like I fit in very well in school. I wasn't sure where I stood in terms of the high-school hierarchy and was both desperate to fit in, yet maintain my own identity (although I don't think I even knew what this was back then) that I think the overall discomfort of dealing with it all just drove me further towards a realm that I knew I could be whoever I wanted to be. And of course I kept all this a secret. Back then, when I barely understood the nuance of social interactions, I feared being labelled 'uncool' or a 'nerd'.
When I was 16 I went through a rather messy, and heartbreaking end of a 1.5-year relationship. It was around this time that I discovered Mass Effect, and played through both I and II, 2 and 5 times respectively. Commander Shepherd got me through that rough patch, and I was absorbed, perhaps even a little bit too unhealthily so, into this crazy beautiful story. That was the first game I ever played that enabled me to choose the actions of my character in a story-driven, single-player game. It was a mind-blowing concept, like the stories that I would write coming to life in a game, as though I was living it. Of course I wasn't so separated from reality to really think that I was this character, but it was real enough to me. And so darn good that it literally got me over a break-up.
It wouldn't be until the recent years, when I got to college and started exploring the gaming community, that I realised that perhaps the world didn't look down on gamers as much as they used to, as much as I thought they did. When Twitch became a thing, and YouTubers were getting popular via gaming content, it seemed as though mainstream society was starting to accept gamers. When DOTA 2 tournaments started gaining millions of viewers and fans, when the prize pool got so incredibly large it was almost unbelievable. When I fell in love with League of Legends and realised that I was among so many others - it was only then I started to become a little less self-conscious, and a little more proud of my connection (and addiction, on some days) to this field.
To be honest, it's a bit crazy how much the world seemed to have embraced gaming and e-sports. It's almost admirable now to be a gamer, and Twitch has also enabled me to combine the two things I love - gaming, and social interaction. Through streaming I've made so many friends, joined a community of people that loved the games I do. From a psychological standpoint, the fact that we rage together, cry together, celebrate our victories together, even though we may not interact as much in real life, has undoubtedly brought us closer (if you're not a MOBA player, this may come off a tad dramatic. But if you're equally, if not more, invested in these games as I am, then you will know exactly what I mean).
And that's basically it. If you want to know more, feel free to come by every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night at 8pm on Twitch!
Till next time,
p.s. According to Wikipedia, "the plural of a computer mouse is "mouses" and "mice" according to most dictionaries, but "mice" being more common." Just FYI because I always wanted to know.