Host, Producer, Gamer, and Mom
I’ve been playing video games since I was a very young girl. Gaming was not only a hobby, but also a path to friendships, confidence, and a career creating content around what I love.
The first game I played was a text-based-adventure called “Zork”on a second-hand Commodore 64.Who would’ve thought text commands could be so thrilling? Eventually, I acquired my very own Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and games like “Super Mario Brothers,” “Bubble Bobble,” “Paperboy,” “Legend of Zelda,” “Tetris,” and hundreds more became my obsessions.
Seeking new challenges
When I had mastered 99 percent of my NES titles, I turned to the family PC for new adventures like “King’s Quest,” “Monkey Island,” “Doom,” and “Carmen Sandiego.” I even found a neighborhood network of kids who swapped game cartridges and disks and visited each other’s houses to play co-op. I had friends! No one cared I was a girl; we were all there to play.
My love of gaming eventually led me to other hobbies like PC modding and tabletop roleplaying, and, when the Internet happened, my community grew even larger. Regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, orientation, or nationality, we were all uniting over our enthusiasm for gaming. It was awesome.
The good, and the bad
As my social circle grew, however, I encountered people with predetermined notions of what makes a “real gamer,” people who felt excluding others would protect this art form they held so dear. I, like many other women, have altered my voice online to avoid being booted from multiplayer games, and I was actually told by a producer at my first gaming industry job that “real gamers don’t wear pink.” While much of this was frustrating, none of it stopped me from playing games. It’s who I am.
Fortunately, I do believe video game culture is slowly changing and returning to the inclusion I experienced as a child. As we see more diversity in our gaming entertainment with esports competitors, streamers, and public figures, and in games themselves through the storylines, characters, and development teams that bring them to life, the misconception that gaming is only for one type of person is evaporating.
A message to gamers
If you are a female (or any other perceived minority in the gaming world) and you’d like to work in video games, have the confidence that not only are you wildly capable, you are paving the way for others who may have similar aspirations. Video games are for everyone.
Trisha Hershberger, Host, Producer, Gamer, and Mom, [email protected]