Hi everyone. My name is Kasia and I have Gamer Impostor Syndrome.
I have been playing video games in one form or another since the 1980s. And with all the recent focus on retro games and who played what when I have been feeling rather inadequate in terms of my gamer cred despite what on the surface sounds like a fairly impressive pedigree.
You see, I grew up as a child of migrants who didn’t have a heck of a lot of money. While other kids were playing on their NES (or on their friend’s console but none of my friends had one because they, too, were children of migrants) or popping coins into arcade machines, I was stuck playing on bargain basement handhelds. It didn’t help that my parents called them “pik pik” for the sound they made. There was no way I could admit to playing games in public because inevitably that pik pik name would come out and I would surely die of embarrassment. As teenagers are wont to do. I did play them in the privacy of my own room because those barrels thrown by Donkey Kong were not going to dodge themselves.
Then Dad bought an 80286 DX. It had a maths card and was capable of running Pong. I was in heaven! I learned DOS commands and was in charge of keeping the family computer organised. Then came the 80486 with its beautiful Turbo button that could take us to the heady heights of 120MHz of internal clock rate. By then I was trading game disks with my father’s male friends. I played Boulder Dash, Leisure Suit Larry, Prince of Persia and Tetris. Anything I could get my hands on. I also had a joystick and a copy of Flight Simulator (in which I crashed a lot). And I was the only female I knew who was playing.
Once I started working in the mid-90s I bought my own computer. At that time I started tending towards RPGs, with Rogue being my main jam. So what if it was ASCII graphics and my computer was overpowered for it? It was the best! I dabbled in Myst and Quake. Then one fateful day I walked out of a store with a copy of The Sims and I believe this to be the day when my gamer cred took a massive hit. I still played all the other games but the sandbox dollhouse game had stolen my heart.
To this day I play a great variety of games, both indie and big budget. Graphics are not an issue as long as the experience is good. It’s the vibe of the thing. My husband and I bonded over Diablo 2 and the MAME he lovingly installed on my PC so that I could finally experience the arcade games I had missed out on. I added FPS to the list of games I sucked at.
It wasn’t until recently that “somebody on the internet” announced that if I wasn’t playing FPS then I was doing it wrong. That if I wasn’t sporting frank and beans then I was a “fake gamer girl”. And then all these people started to point to their history with retro consoles as a sign of gamer cred. By this time my ego was so beaten up that it felt like everything anyone said meant that my 20+ years of experience on PC didn’t count at all. Even if they didn’t mean it that way. Worse still, I also play *gasp!* casual mobile games. Dirty rotten casual that I am.
Thing is, I don’t think I’m doing it wrong. I don’t feel any less of a gamer when I play a hidden item game (yes! game!) on a mobile device than when I build a pixel dollhouse or when I shoot or set on fire the enemies that I encounter in an RPG. I still suck at flying games and FPS but I don’t care.
And you’re not doing it wrong, either. No matter what your gamer cred might be. As long as you’re passionate about the interactive storytelling medium the vast majority of the world’s population refers to as games, then you’re a gamer. You’re not an impostor. Your worth as a member of this community does not come from some arbitrary number of games, consoles or headshots that some anonymous stranger says you must have experienced. Your KDR must not be this tall to enter.
Hi everyone! My name is Kasia and I am a gamer. Now can somebody please tell me where the heck I left my pik pik?