The lights are on
Power Member - Level 10
Life is more than capable of reminding us that change is
imminent by way of a sledgehammer to the face.
The past few weeks have been personally difficulty for a variety of
reasons but I want to share a specific moment here, we all blog for various
reasons and more so than usual this blog is for myself as a reminder of the
power in gaming.
The internet is a strange beast. We, or I, forget that others only know us
through usernames and avatars. When we
are not blogging we are still living our lives but the internet only knows us
based on our world wide web postings.
For example, I posted an "introduction" blog and I remember recounting
my gaming years but that posting was months ago, specifically July 2012, which
is more than long enough for the internet to swallow that post whole without
follow up blogs.
A game that I have never played but the iconic player reminds us all that yes, women can shot rockets from their arms. Samus Aran v. Mega Man?
For clarity's sake, I am a woman gamer. Yes, I often mention my girlfriend because
she is a big part of my life therefore I am also a gay gamer. Also, I have not been shy explaining how
gaming impacts me as a deaf gamer. I
mention these facts only to explain who I am in order for the remainder of this
blog to make sense.
I have followed the various gaming news articles regarding
sexual harassment in the gaming industry.
Due to my deafness, I have largely avoided multiplayer or even online
co-op gaming due to a technical issue of the Xbox 360 splitting in-game sound
and live chat sound leaving me thus far unable to stream both sounds through my
assistive devices. Personally, I have
not been involved in sexual harassment within gaming and I followed the ongoing
news coverage but left the topics alone to others.
A couple of weeks ago, in real life, I experienced sexual
harassment. I was not in physical danger
but my personal boundaries were physically crossed. This occurred on my way to work during a
weekday morning when an older man who is a known neighbor of 3 years offered me
a ride to my transfer bus stop as I ran past his house late for my usual morning
commute. During the ride, we chatted
about the neighborhood, street parking, and yard work. As I leaned down to pick up my work bag, I
turned to say thank you and his face was unexpectedly in front of mine trying
to kiss me. Quickly, I turned my head,
he solidly kissed my cheek, and I bolted out of the car. Throughout the workday my sense of safety was
gone, instead I was anxious and paranoid.
I spoke to coworkers for support and after work coworker
drove me home where I told my girlfriend.
She insisted that he be confronted and she walked to his door demanding
that the behavior is not repeated in the future. Of course, he stated that he was just being
friendly. Perhaps, to some this does not
sound like sexual harassment but I have spoken to the appropriate people,
understand this situation for what it was, and appropriate action has assured
that not only will this not occur again but the situation will not
escalate. I have been in sexual harassment
situations previously and the assurance of the behavior not repeating is a
difficult step to take.
Lara takes a moment to rest and huddle, giving in to her fear, but she always keeps moving on.
All this being said, the next morning, I awoke at 4:00 AM as
per my schedule. I let the dog outside,
made the coffee, and sat down playing my new release purchase, the Tomb Raider
reboot. I do not remember exactly what
portion of the game that I played that morning, only that I reveled surviving
in an island gone mad as Lara Croft. She
fell, repeatedly, from my clumsy controlling of her footwork amongst cliff
ledges, she huddled cold and shivering at her hub world's camp fires, her voice
quivered when yelling at her tormentors and she became visibly as well as
audibly shaking with fright when planning her next move that required venturing
back into enemy territory. Each time she
stood back up and fought on. Not
unafraid but not willing to give up either.
Not until I put on my jacket and my messenger bag did the
full panic hit me that I now needed to walk past this neighbor's house in order
to reach the bus stop and again on my trip home. Standing outside on my sidewalk in the
morning air, I was aghast at an overwhelming fear that made me seriously
consider walking nearly a mile out of my way in order to avoid a situation that
scared me. Where I previously walked up
and down my street without worry, I now counted the times required to pass his
house. I felt ashamed and embarrassed at
my fear. I realized that I had just
gamed as Lara Croft who as a female protagonist felt fear but kept her resolve
to press forward.
I walked to the bus stop, albeit I now walked on the other
side of the street, humiliated that I let this situation change my routine but
with inspiration from Lara to at least walk past his house. Her layered tank tops tore during her ordeal
(I need to buy more tank tops from Old Navy soon), she carried a heavy amount
of gear without her cargo pants sagging (this is a video game after all but my
shoulder bruises from my work bag), and her pony tail swung (I cannot abide my
hair in my face) while she waivered but never gave up.
As a gamer, I have played as a variety of protagonists and
enjoyed their stories, daydreaming on my school bus then on public
transportation how to solve a puzzle or progress past a boss. Simply through the games available the vast
majority of those experiences were as male protagonists and I relished my time
with those games. I discovered
characteristics in characters that I related to and empathized with.
My original video game game heroes, not counting my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle handheld portable game.
I have journeyed across fantasy lands as a plucky young lad
throughout console generations from Nigel in the Sega Genesis' Landstalker and
Aladdin in a rare well-made licensed game as well as Shinobi in Shinobi III:
Return of the Ninja Master. In the
Playstation eras as Dart in The Legend Of Dragoon, and Serge in Chronro Cross eventually
with entire parties available as playable characters. I was Sora from Kingdom Hearts, Gabriel in
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and Geralt in The Witcher 2. I have decimated hordes of enemies switching
amongst gun types as Jack in BioShock, Delta in BioShock 2, Marcus in Gears Of
War, and I trudged after "Follow" religiously throughout the Call of Duty
series. I slunk behind enemies as Corvo
in Dishonored, as Batman in Arkham Asylum, and as a bevy of assassins in
But in this moment, the power of playing as a scripted
female character that I instantly related to inspired me to face a personal situation
as best I could. Similar to how we stand
outside staring at the true width and depth in-between even close buildings makes
Assassin's Creed style parkouring not humanely possible, I stood outside having
spent an early morning demolishing my enemies and suddenly I was nearly unable
to walk down my street due to the terror of a single person. The true strength required to defeat a moment
of fear is more than the press of a button but we all know that video games are
more than pressing buttons. Gaming is an
interactive story that lets us embody our heroes, and anti-heroes.
Prior to this incident I have experienced a neighborhood man
long ago posing girl children on his stairs for photos literally in exchange
for candy, a tutor who insisted on cuddling, and another student at my university
that I knew for years who last I heard was caught as a underage sexual predator. Speaking with friends and family about this
incident I heard stories of a garbage man, a doctor, a leader of a house of
worship, and an attack by a group of young men.
Certainly, not all men, or humans for that matter, are sexual predators. For every descriptor of predators named above
I know many more garbage men, neighbors, and tutors who know and practice
appropriate boundaries and relationships.
Gaming inspires us all differently. Nothing can go wrong with inspiration for magical looking sweet treats.
As a gamer, I turn to gaming at times for a "pick me up." Any one game cannot provide a protagonist
that is immediately relatable to every single gamer, even in the "make a
character" universes. However, a diverse
scripted protagonist landscape gives more gamers the opportunity to access the
inspiration that comes from turning on a game and immediately thinking, "That
could be me."
Heavier topics have come and stayed within gaming as the medium
continues to evolve and I thank all of you who read through this writing.
When has a game been
there in your moment of need?
What gaming character
are you most inspired by?
What was the first
game that stayed with you long after you stopped playing?