Archive for July, 2010

Announcing: Chu*Cast!

I am happy to announce that Chu*Blog is now launching its own podcast!

Chu*Cast will be hosted by me, and feature many people from all walks of life to discuss topics on anime, manga, video games, writing, and perhaps even some life wisdom!

The first episode will center around the MMORPG genre, and will feature my brother Anthony Giannetti, a.k.a. @OpalPhoenix of the video game and anime blog The Opal Phoenix Nest, as well as his friend (and mine!) Stephen Clancy, an avid MMORPG player who will be able to give some great insight!

Stay tuned for the first episode of Chu*Cast, and feel free to drop a line with comments and/or suggestions for topics you’d like to hear on Chu*Cast!

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Growing Up a Girl Gamer

Females are considered an integral part of video games nowadays, as is evidenced by the boom of many things like games designed for young girls and female main characters. However, those of us that have been gaming for a long time remember the days when it was rare to even see a girl know how to wield a controller properly. There was probably more girls playing video game than we thought, but it was nonetheless considered male territory. For many ladies my age, we remember the good and bad sides of growing up as a girl gamer.

I used to rent a lot more video games than I bought because, quite frankly, my parents were much more open to doing so than they were to buying me games (they felt I wouldn’t play games enough to warrant buying them. How wrong they were!). So when a boy who lived a few houses down from me got his very own copy of Mortal Kombat for his Sega Genesis, I was instantly jealous and tried to worm my way over to his house to play. He was shocked that I was even interested, and thought I wouldn’t be able to handle the blood. It turns out I happen to be a permanent button-masher when it comes to fighting games, but that didn’t stop me from spending hours with him looking at move combos and trying to pull them off against each other.

Thinking on it now, that was really the first point where I felt like it was really okay for me to be playing video games. Growing up, gender roles were very strictly enforced upon my brother and I. My mother would get upset when she saw my brother playing with me and my Barbie dolls (he always used Ken of course), and she would get equally antsy seeing me playing with my brother’s race cars. I always helped cook dinner and clean the dishes and was angry that my mother never let my brother do it. However, my parents always let my brother help with outside activities such as cutting grass or cleaning the cars. Even today my father will ask my brother for help fixing things around the house, but will always refuse my help. So, growing up I always had a sense that there were some things I just wasn’t allowed to do or touch because I was a girl.

My love for video games was really the first thing that transcended that. During elementary and middle school, I used to get mercilessly mocked by boys, saying that I had to be telling lies because girls don’t play video games, and that even if I had, I certainly had to be terrible at it. That didn’t bother me too much though; I would simply go home and bust through some Sonic the Hedgehog to remind myself that I was a good gamer in my own right.

However, that all changed when I got into high school. I jumped into a conversation a few boys were having about Final Fantasy VII on the lunch line one day and had corrected them on something. They were in such shock that I even knew what the game was that I was an instant curiosity to them. They talked to me the entire time we were on the line to get our food, and it was probably the longest conversation I’ve ever had a group of people I didn’t really know.

Suddenly, being a girl gamer wasn’t a lie or something that was a joke, it was something desirable! I am certainly not attractive physically, but for some reason this particular passion of mine won me quite a bit of male attention (and yes, I did have my fair share of boyfriends in high school, all of whom were delighted at my knowledge of video games). I went from being wary of even speaking of video games to being rather proud of my skills and being eager to try new and different games.

In senior year I met a guy from a nearby school through a friend that was quiet and shy, but nice. We met once in person and then started talking online out of boredom. The topic of our conversations? Mostly, video games. Those conversations led to talks about our personal lives, and eventually he called me up one day while he was on his senior year field trip and said he wanted to take me out when he got back home.

During our relationship, we bonded a lot over video games, and I spend countless hours with him and his friends playing video games and hopping around arcades. The best part: he was from a private Catholic school, so all of his friends were guys. I was totally accepted for my love of video games. Suddenly, video games wasn’t just a passion or a hobby, it was a way to bond and create memories with friends.

That is really what video games are to me to this day: works of beauty, art, and creativity that can bring people together and bring smiles and memories. It has amazed me how video games have evolved and how female participation in them has evolved as well. The role of women in video games has even changed; nowadays, there are many games that star women (as I mentioned before) or have the option to play as a female character, when back in the day I remember feeling frustration that I always had to play as a male. Not only have gamers seen this change, but members of the industry clearly have as well.

Yes, it’s a great time to be a girl gamer, even if growing up as one was a pain!

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