This will probably get long, i apologize in advance.
A couple of years ago, i didn’t even know the gaming community at large even existed. I was vaguely aware that people were streaming games and people were watching. I knew that people read magazines and played TTRPG together, and there were gaming websites. But an entire community? Had no clue.
I have been a gamer my entire life. My dad and i shared this love, and if not for him, my mom would never have let us kids have a gaming system. I remember when i was very very little, we had an Atari, and we had a lot of Atari games really. My dad wasn’t a big reader, and that’s how he used his leisure time. My dad taught me to play Pong and we had Tennis and Combat and Demons to Diamonds and Berzerk which was one of my personal favorites. Pac-Man came a little later. I loved that my dad would play with me.
My dad’s cousin Eddie was the first one to get an NES and he brought my dad over to check it out. My dad was hooked. Shortly after we had one too. Games were really expensive back then. I remember my mom used to buy one a week just about and she would spend as much as $80 on one. I think she figured as long as she kept buying games my dad would be home instead of fishing. Weekends were spent with me and dad on the couch, trying to beat the newest games we had either bought or rented. I was so upset when she made me go to bed when dad was playing Final Fantasy and was taking the Ruby to the giant in the mountain, and i snuck into the hallway to watch him play until i was caught and sent back to bed.
Okay so fast forwarding, i just kind of played my way through games through my teen years and adulthood. I didn’t have any friends who played games really, but i played a lot with my son, instilling him with the same love of gaming that i shared with my dad. There was no one to tell me what the cool new games were, i just picked and chose my way along. I went from PlayStation to PS2, then we got an GameCube, then a Wii. My dad and i would still talk about the games we played, what we liked, what we didn’t like. Up through 2011 I was still playing my PS2, a little outdated but still fun for me. We had a house fire and my video games mostly survived. All my old NES games were in the attic which was largely untouched except smoke. My PS2 worked halfway but wouldn’t play anything very graphic intense. So gaming fell by the wayside for a few years.
Five years ago (ish), my husband surprised me by bringing home an Xbox 360. I had never had an Xbox before. So i started gaming again. I was still gaming solo. Then my husband brought home a copy of Destiny. The Taken King had just come out, and i was just kind of solo-ing my way along. Then i thought, maybe i should find a clan. I wanted to find ladies to play and connect with so i browsed the Bungie app until i found the Sisterhood of Guardians. I joined up and it was amazing. I had found my first community of people, and they were all women!
My dad bought an Xbox 360, and i was on the Xbox One by this time but he didn’t have internet and the 360 was fine for him. Most of our long conversations ran around video games at this point. This was the one place we could always connect.
Sadly my dad started getting ill. First his heart problems returned. He had always had a bad heart, had his first heart attack when he was 36. So now he was looking at needing a defibrillator. I made sure to stay in constant contact with him to keep an eye on him. He got his heart hardware installed, and we thought everything was good. Then the doctor told him he had cancer. Not just one type, that would have been too easy. He had bone, lung, and prostate cancer. He went through radiation for the bone cancer and it went into remission. He had chemo shots he took every 3 months and the doctor said it was looking good, he would have several more years with us.
He didn’t though. He started feeling weaker, and sicker, and he eventually succumbed. Up to the very last he was still gaming. When i went to clean up his fridge and bring some of his valuables home with me, i opened his 360 and he had been playing Fallout 3, which i bought for him, and which i was actually playing through again at that same time. It was very poignant for me.
A few months after he passed one of my best girlfriends online got Twitch Affiliate and posted it on Facebook, and i messaged her. I said “First of all, congratulations, and second of all, what the hell i didn’t know you were a big gamer!” She helped me out and got me on Discord, told me to get on Twitter, and encouraged me to stream. It took me about 6 weeks to reach Affiliate and she was always my biggest supporter. Twitter helped me connect with all these amazing people, all of them gamers. Some days i still feel a little overwhelmed at the support and all the knowledge i get, and the amount of games i have missed and didn’t even know about. I have such a backlog of games now, and i mostly stream older games, variety style, with newer games in the mix.
It helps me with my grieving process, because i miss my dad like hell and i know that will never change, but streaming and being in a community where I FINALLY feel like i belong is amazing. I didn’t think i would ever have anyone to talk to about games ever again except my son. And i think my dad would be proud of me. He would probably think this whole streaming business was weird, but i think he would be proud of me anyhow.
I don’t feel alone anymore. So to every person that becomes my friend, and who bonds with me in even the smallest way in this digital world, i give my heartfelt thanks.