Why I Need to Give Some Credit to the Gaming Community

Being female and gamer hasn’t been an easy road. For a long time, I stopped having anything to do with gaming, purely because of the backlash I faced in high school. Retrospectively, it was a lack of confidence on my end. But there was definitely relentless teasing and a little bit of gaslighting in the sense that if I did win, it was because they were going easy on me. After a few years and an absolute thrashing in Mortal Kombat, I got back into it. I got a PS4 for Christmas, bought Mortal Kombat and was determined to land a fatality on someone at one point.

In some ways, the culture has gotten better and in others, it has gotten far, far worse. But during this pandemic, I have to admit that the gaming community has kept me sane.

While in lockdown, I found that what I was lacking, more than anything, was the sense of community. I was used to making my connections at work and at university, I didn’t find a need for them outside that. I have friends that live all around the place and I didn’t mind travelling to see them occasionally, but it wasn’t a necessity.

I suppose this is the moment where you realize that I am definitely an introvert.

What this pandemic did was cut me off from all of those situational connections. Work, study, it all became homebound. And suddenly the place that I felt the most comfortable became a cage that I was unable to leave. I definitely suffered.

The thing is, every gamer has to be comfortable with their own company. Gaming can be an entirely solo endeavor, with the person getting so immersed into a game that it becomes almost a story that they are writing. Gaming developers have a special talent of allowing gamers to become the deciders of another character’s fate. It is the individual’s choice what they play and how they play it. Even in group situations, such as PUBG and Fortnite, you can be given a role and how well you do in that role can depend on how well your team goes.

I do have online connections that I valued more during this time. My partner and I are avid gamers, who play online with the same people. That ‘squad’ was a lifeline, a floatation device that kept me above the water. I was able to remove myself from work and study and immerse myself into a game that we can swear and laugh over.

When I first met these guys on a random game of Fortnite, it was constant overthinking and worrying about giving too much away. After all, we were all warned when we were younger, you never knew who was on the other side of the screen. That is, of course, still a relevant sentiment but I got very lucky. I’ve had incredible conversations with all four of them and one of them ended up being my partner. I’ve had enlightening talks about life, learned how to listen to other opinions, understood that my life experiences might not match up with others, and watched as they’ve grown into completely different and fantastic men. I’ve been a witness to their struggles, their highs and lows, and laughed so hard in the chat that my stomach has hurt.

When this pandemic hit all of us, we were playing pretty consistently. I could act like myself again after work, I wasn’t stuck in the same place that I had to work. I valued that connection more and more. However, their locations went back to normal as their cases dropped rapidly. Mine did not. While their lives moved forward, I was still stuck in this lockdown. It was hard to organize times, it was hard for us to all get online and thus, I lost a lifeline.

Then my partner started streaming.

I wasn’t a big twitch fan previously. Why would I watch someone else play a game that I can access myself? But as my partner started growing his community, I began exploring others. I wanted to support my partner initially, to see what successful people were doing. A massive part of what they do is community building. They interact with their viewers, ask about their days, their opinion on the game that they’re playing. They celebrate the wins with them and burying their head in their hands when they make a mistake. The chat normally teases them a bit but they’re generally encouraging.

But it’s not just the streamer that makes up the community. The viewers become their own support. People interact, advertise their streams, recommend games and celebrate the wins in life as well as gaming.

It’s not all sunshine, not by a long shot, but I can see why people are so loyal and protective to their communities. It can be the shot of sunlight in a situation that could be so dark. Exploring all these communities became something that kept my head above water. I even have my favourite streamers now, which I will list below if you want to have a laugh.

I explored other games, almost threw my controller during Fall Guys, watched as others almost did the same, laughed at videos of Among Us until I realized that being the Imposter is one of the most stressful situations and I felt a part of something again.

I think that as a society, we write off online communities. After all, how can you have a connection with people you can’t see? But sometimes, having a mere conversation with someone about how hard a certain level is, or versing someone in a game and getting absolutely thrashed can just remind you that there are other people in the world. It reminds you that while you wouldn’t have been able to have that experience without them, they also wouldn’t have been able to have it without you.

The gaming community still has its toxic areas. I will never deny that. But if you learn where to look, you can have some really positive experiences and I’m really grateful for the community to exist.

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Courtney J

Courtney J

just some stories, poems and opinion pieces.