Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Jennifer (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 26, 2009

MMO community connection:

Girl Unplugged

Chapter 2: Origins

What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?

I loved to play board games, and “house” – a general term for playing pretend. My family didn’t really enjoy playing, though, so I hardly ever got to play board games as often as I wanted to.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

I didn’t have any other hobbies when I was 10 and under, because my family couldn’t afford club sports or musical instruments and the like. In middle school I joined the academic UIL team, and when I was 11 I joined a Masonic youth group that I belonged to for nine years.

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

I briefly played pen-and-paper games, though it wasn’t as a child. One game was Exalted, in which I only played one story arc. Later on I played Scion, attempting to take on the role of story teller. It didn’t go so well, as my social anxiety rendered me nearly incapable of reading through my prepared script. I have since concluded that I am not good at improvisation or role playing.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

I didn’t read very much as a child, which is odd considering the affection I have for reading as an adult. When I did read, I remember it was mostly biographies in elementary school: Dolly Madison, Anne Frank, etc. I also liked Roald Dahl a lot, The Witches and Matilda were my favorites.

Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.

I don’t think they did. My appreciation for gaming and MMOs today stems from my enjoyment of video games as a child…but I guess I’ll expand on that in the next section.

How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

My older brother had a Nintendo on which I occasionally played Duck Hunt. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time. Later on we got a Super Nintendo and we played a lot of Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, and Super Mario Brothers. I loved playing video games because they offered me a chance to spend time with my older brother, whom I always looked up to and wanted to emulate. He often beat me mercilessly in Mario Kart and other games, being 5 years older and more naturally skilled, but I still loved playing with him.

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

I think I played some Pac-Man, and I remember a Simpsons arcade game at a movie theatre we used to go to as kids, but I was never much of an arcade fan. When we went to pizza places and other locations that had arcade games, I preferred to play skee ball if it was available.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

I recall Mortal Kombat very vividly. I loved playing Mileena or Kitana, because they were beautiful and just as tough as their male counterparts. Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater 4 was the first game I actually bought for myself and didn’t just share with my brother or my friends. That was probably the day I became a real “gamer”, even if sports games are looked down on by some people in the gaming community. I say “real” because games became a hobby of my own at that point, not just something I did socially with my family or my peers.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I didn’t own a console of my own until four years ago when I inherited my dad’s PS2.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

When I played battle mode in Mario Kart as a child, I would sometimes play Luigi instead of Princess Peach (my usual choice). When I did this, and when I did something particularly evil to the other NPCs or to my brother, I would shout out “Ha, a loogie!” in a sort of sing-song voice. I didn’t know what “loogie” meant at the time, I guess it must have been my alternative pronunciation of Luigi’s name. Either way, I very vividly remember doing this almost constantly.

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