Regina has graciously invited me to share some of my thoughts on gaming as a Mom – and in general (I hope) – so I thought I should start by explaining briefly how I got here.
My introduction to game culture and serious gaming began in 2011. I had 3 kids – a 9 month old, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old – and was doing a bit of editing on the side. I played some Wii games with my husband, but our daughter had taken over the DS and my online/computer gaming was basically limited to Facebook games. My husband told me that his friend from high school was finishing her Ph.D. and needed someone to read over her dissertation. “So,” he asked, “would you be willing to edit my friend Regina’s dissertation for her?” I said yes and my world changed forever.
First, there were the references to The Guild – with quotations. Quotations from shows = spoilers, so I had to watch The Guild so the quotes wouldn’t spoil it for me. Between that and the interviews with girl gamers and vivid descriptions of avatar creation and gaming, I found myself yearning to experience this MMORPG world for myself. Regina made DDO sound more welcoming and friendly than WoW, so I decided to start there. I gingerly made my way through the download process and stressed over the avatar creation process (with my new awareness of all the layers of meaning inherent in my avatar). Regina had at one point suggested that she could come play with me (virtually), but then we discovered that the beginning area wasn’t accessible to advanced players, so I went it alone. And it was great fun and people were friendly and helpful and I started to begin to understand how things worked, but . . . I had a local friend who was already playing WoW. She found out I was starting to play DDO and immediately suggested I should play WoW with her instead. Finally – solely because she wanted to game with me – she tried playing DDO with me, but didn’t like it as well as WoW. However, since she’d tried mine, I felt I should try hers – especially since it was free to try to level 20. It took me a little while to adjust, but I discovered that playing with a real-life friend sitting beside me – and standing beside me in the game – who could show me where things were, explain what to do, and help me when I got confused made the game both easier and more fun. A few days after we started playing together my husband joined us and things progressed naturally from there. When we reached level 20 – the cap for playing free – my birthday was only a month away, so my friend bought us both our first real month as “birthday presents.” By the time that ran out we were hooked enough to start paying for ourselves ;).
That, in a nutshell, is my entry into “serious” gaming. We’ve taken a couple breaks, but have been playing for about a year and recruited enough friends into playing to form our own little guild. My friend and I leveled the characters we created together up to level 86, which isn’t all that impressive by mastery standards, but suits our Self approach just fine. She’s been too busy to play this month, but I’ve enjoyed playing on my own and my husband and I also created a couple new characters that we’ve been playing together a lot. I’d like to explore other MMOs someday, but for the moment only one fits my schedule, so it’s my main source of inspiration and information regarding game culture and how gaming affects my life. If you hate WoW, you’ve been warned!