I was thinking last Sunday about some gaming history that I really haven't talked about here on the blog. Recently, Diablo III launched on console in addition to PC/MAC. I haven't played it yet but I kind of want to. But all that contemplating whether to commit to it or not brought up some high school memories.
My brother had Diablo II when I was in high school and he was in college. (We're seven years apart so our interests haven't always coincided, though they've merged more in recent years it seems.) He let me play it from time to time one summer when he was home. (I think.)
Then I bought it for myself so I didn't have to rely on my brother's generosity to play it. I loved it. It was a stress reliever for me, to get angry at something and go whack a tree with a sword for a while. (It's better than taking out frustrations on real people, if you ask me. And I've never had a problem differentiating reality and fiction, lest anyone bring out the violence and video games argument. Which I will keep my opinions to myself on that matter.)
One day at school I was sitting around talking to some of my guy friends and for some reason it came up that I was playing through Diablo II.
I got the very incredulous, "You play Diablo?" Emphasis on "you." It honestly surprised me that anyone would be surprised I would play a video game. I mean, I'd had my N64 since 8th grade (and I think I was probably a junior or senior at this point). I'd grown up begging my brother to let me have a turn playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis or Monkey Island. Even King's Quest, which I never could get the hang of.
Ever since that conversation in high school, I've struggled to identify myself as a gamer. Even here on my own blog I've called myself a wannabe gamer. But I'm a gamer. I really and truly am. It's one facet of my personality, one interest. But it's an interest all the same.
But that one sentence has deeply impacted me, more than I think I ever even realized. I attended a panel on women in gaming at Salt Lake Comic Con. And sitting there in that room, I was impressed at the seemingly even mix of women and men in the room. And the intelligent, non-belittling questions some of the guys asked. And then I was surprised and disheartened at my being impressed. Because why should I be impressed that men are interested in equality with women in even one industry? Why are we still having to fight this crap?