When it has chowed itself down all the way to its head (which is, itself, doing the chowing-down) it will very closely resemble my lifespan. -Unknown
My first video game ever was probably Super Mario Bros. for the SNES. Some friends of the family had it, and although I never played it, I derived many hours of enjoyment from watching.
My mother eventually wore down and bought my siblings and I a Sega Genesis and a subscription to Sega Channel. I do believe the only reason we got that Genesis was because of Sega Channel. It was perfect for three kids with wildly different tastes and a mother who predicted that without it, we'd be demanding a new game every week. I still remember my sister had figured out that if she managed to cartwheel you into a corner while playing Jetta in Eternal Champions, there was no way you'd get out of it. I preferred Larcen, myself.
After the Genesis, my brother saved up his money to buy an N64. That was my introduction to The Legend of Zelda, first though Majora's Mask and then through Ocarina of Time. I never played myself, but would faithfully aid my brother as he played. I did, however, play hours of Harvest Moon 64. The irony of this was that I lived on ten acres, at least two of which were dedicated to a sizable garden and a small collection of livestock, all of which were my primary responsibility. My mother would ask what I was doing in Harvest Moon, and I would cheerfully respond that I was farming. "You can do that outside, in the real garden." "Dad's got it hooked up to the sprinkler system so I don't have to water it and the animals have all been fed."
It was my brother who introduced me to Pokemon. We started with Red and Blue, and continued from there. It was also the first time I noticed a distinct lack of female player characters. There were chicks in the game, why couldn't I play one of them? I had to wait until Sapphire (I skipped Crystal) to finally be female in a Pokemon game. I was ecstatic.
Sometime in high school we finally got a computer and an internet connection. I was into Dragonball Z at the time and my brother introduced me to a DBZ MUD. That was my first introduction to the world of being female in gaming. I learned quickly that the only good response I could give to A/S/L was either to lie or ignore.
My introduction to PC gaming proper was Diablo II and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The former I found out, like everything else, via my brother. The latter I discovered one day while cruising Wal-Mart. I was looking at the inside cover when my brother came up and said "That cat person, right there? You can *be* a cat person." SOLD. I've been playing Khajiit ever since. It was Battle.net that taught me my second lesson in multiplayer gaming: people are dicks. At least they weren't harassing me because I was female.
My lack of exposure to video games was due to a lack of information. While many of my friends (mostly female) enjoyed Pokemon, none of them played any video game besides it. My brother's friends played all kinds of games. My other problem had been that I always lived in small towns. GameStop was unknown to me, the internet close to absent. If it wasn't available in Wal-Mart, I didn't know a damn thing about it.
It was when I got to college and had some money, some time, some internet, and some local game stores that I finally got into actual gaming. I bought a PS1 and eventually a PS2. A friend burned me a copy of Oblivion to tide me over until I got my own copy for Christmas and I traded him a piece of sweet potato pie for a DVD drive.
But the most important part was that I finally had a group of friends who also loved video games. Many of them were female. My earlier experiences with being "a girl on the internet" were replaced with people who could care less if you were a girl.
I'm one of the lucky ones.
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