When I started thinking about the changes I wanted to make here on the site, the thing I was most excited and most apprehensive about was adding gaming to the line-up.
I’ve always been a side-line gamer – I don’t think I’m very good at most games so learning or participating in something new makes me anxious, but I love watching other people play. People who know what they’re doing, or aren’t afraid to screw up while someone is watching. I’ve watched my friends play through Portal, Portal 2, and Batman: Arkham Asylum and had as much (or more) fun as they did. I have an ex-boyfriend who hated it when I watched him play first person shooters, but didn’t mind at all when he played whichever version of Grand Theft Auto was popular at the time.
And it’s not just video games, though they certainly hold top honors on the intimidation scale. I’ve never played a minute of Dungeons & Dragons, but I watched my best friend in high school play several times. When I found out that some of my favorite geeks had played and recorded a celebrity game at PAX, I watched all the videos marathon-style.
I love games but I haven’t given myself a chance to enjoy them first-hand. I’ve missed the fun and friendship that comes with gaming. Now I’m determined to change that, not only for myself, but for my daughter as well.
I think there are valuable lessons kids can learn through gaming. Basic skills like counting, colors, letters, and following directions can be taught at an early age through simple games like Candyland and Uno. More thoughtful skills like sharing, fairness, teamwork, how to be competitive without being a jerk, and how to use your imagination are learned with more advanced games. Games can teach valuable skills like no other medium.
I decided to learn as much as I can about gaming, essentially deciding to become a gamer, so I can teach my daughter these lessons. My first step was making friends with the staff at the local comic book store and the local video game store. My local comic book store, Lone Star Comics, has a great selection of games. From tabletop to board to card, they have a nice variety. Plus, the staff is super friendly. For video games, I went to Game Trade. They are the only retailer in the area that has games for my ancient Playstation. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable, nice, and super patient with a n00b like me. Seriously, they stood and answered my ridiculous questions for the better part of an hour one afternoon, and didn’t once make me feel like a moron.
I’m still not sure which direction I want to go with this category. I want to do more than review games. I want to talk about the games I’m playing, but I’d rather talk about the experience as a whole than just the game itself. I want to give you what gaming is like from a newbie’s prospective.
Fair warning: I am a huge fan of Wil Wheaton and Scott Kurtz and the guys from Penny Arcade. Most of what I know about games is from these guys. I will probably mention them a lot. Please understand that it’s not fangirl drooling, but where I honestly get most of my perspective. These are people who I respect, not fawn over.
I hope you will enjoy this charge into the unknown as much as I will. If you have any suggestions for games I should play, please leave them in the comments. If you have any questions or comments, I look forward to hearing from you. As always you can catch me on Twitter, email, or in the comments below.