IEGA Special Series - Adrian's Story

This is a special series interview with our partners at the International Electronic Gaming Authority. Visit, sign up and play!

Interviewed and Written by Mandeq Jama, Do a Barrel Roll

As a father of two with a full-time job, Adrian is a very busy man. But in those rare moments of free time, he’s on his console or laptop, playing games.  

Like most people, Adrian plays to escape the trials and tribulations of life. While playing, he quickly becomes engrossed in the challenges posed by each game he plays and can keep at it for hours.

But gaming is not just a means to escape for Adrian; it has also served as the center of his social circle, of a lot of the important relationships he’s built since he was just a kid growing up in Whitby, Ontario, during the 1980s.

 

Origin Story

Adrian’s first gaming memory is from the age of 10. He visited his cousin’s place one Saturday afternoon and found him playing Nintendo Mike Tyson Punch Out. As his cousin was unselfish by nature, he offered the controller to Adrian and let him play for a while. Then they’d switch. The two were having so much fun together that the day just flew by. Adrian doesn’t even remember if he had lunch, only that it was a positive and surprisingly enlightening experience and the building block of a long friendship with his cousin that continues to this day. (They now regularly connect with each other through online gaming, playing either as teammates or as competitors.)

On that very day, Adrian discovered his love for video games. He soon got his hands on his own console.

Surprisingly (at least to me), his parents didn’t have any issues with him spending time on video games. Actually, they saw them as useful for two particular reasons; one, games kept kids indoors and out of trouble, and two, many games had problem solving aspects in them that could encourage analytical thinking. So as a young boy, Adrian was allowed to let his love for games grow, and he continued to play games for the rest of his childhood.

And in a similar manner that games helped Adrian build a strong relationship with his cousin, he developed relationships with friends at school who were gamers themselves. Adrian can remember when he regularly talked with school friends about games, problems with achieving certain goals, and the ways to overcome them. “Sometimes it was a joint effort to complete it [the games],” he tells me, “and kind of move on to the next game.” Games didn’t just become part of the conversation, it was the conversation, and relationships followed from these conversations.

This interaction with his own personal “gaming community” would continue down to his later years as an amateur athlete, as he and his teammates would play games after practice. Presumably, they would also have the same long discussions, sharing their video game experiences and helping each other out in completing the games.

 

Ch-ch-changes

Even though that social aspect to gaming has been (in some ways) constant throughout Adrian’s love affair with games, he cannot ignore the incredible changes games and the gaming community have taken since that day as a kid playing with his cousin. “Back then you had to be in the same area of the game,” where folks had to play on the same couch, on the same TV, with the same console, but “now the gaming community has grown so much because now the games are online with the introduction of lobbies and party chats….” 

Also, the variety of games have “grown exponentially,” appealing to every kind of personality, from VR games that can teach people to drive, to PC games where players micromanage an entire city. “No matter what age you are, I think there’s a game that someone can definitely identify with.”

After being a gamer for so long, I ask Adrian what have become his all-time favourite games. He gave me a list:

  • Need for Speed Underground

  • Mortal Combat 2

  • FIFA (of any and every year)

  • Warhammer 40K

Need for Speed Underground, for its revolutionary graphics, “that was the first game where I really felt that I experienced the speed…I played it for hours with my friends and family.” Mortal Combat 2, because it’s just legendary, “it changed gaming forever.” FIFA, for his love of soccer and the easily competitive nature of it, “games like that…I always wanted to get better at.” And Warhammer 40K, the PC strategy game was attractive for the compelling challenges and ultimate possibilities it had. “It was first game I had on a laptop, I could play locally with friends and online—it was incredible.”

 

Experience Gaming Community

Adrian’s first interaction with a proper gaming community was in old online chatrooms, where gamers discussed the PC game Starcraft (which was Adrian’s first). Those same conversations he’d have with friends were done through a computer under anonymous usernames.

His experience with the gaming community in this manner has been a mixed bag. For the most part, Adrian finds the gaming community incredibly welcoming. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, people are accepting of you, and reaching out isn’t at all difficult. The level of inclusiveness in the gaming community is higher than most in Adrian’s eyes.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t bad apples. Adrian hates those people who lurk in gaming chatrooms, blurting profanity and racist, homophobic garbage (especially in first-person shooter games like Call of Duty), but then he also reminds himself of his time as an athlete, where certain players he’d played with and against used language of that sort. Given that, it’s clear to him that those kinds of people can be found in any community, but they are never the norm. Overall, he reiterates, the gaming community is an inclusive one.

 

Future of Gaming

Soon we talk about how games have become more mainstream, or what Adrian calls the “natural progression of acceptance” of video games in society. He personally credits it to the sophistication of the gaming industry. The level of professionalism in both games and gaming has reached the likes of Hollywood and will continue to for years to come. Also, popular streams on sites like Twitch and YouTube make games more popular, creating even greater demand for that sophistication.

Alongside that, there’s the fact that the first generations that grew up with games are now grown-ups themselves. People like Adrian who now have children of their own understand the value of games, which parents previously may not have understood, leading to greater acceptance and even love for video games.

While we talked a lot about how gaming has changed in the years, I wanted to ask Adrian about what he thinks about the future of gaming. As video games become mainstream, particularly e-sports, there are a lot of possibilities of where gaming is headed.  

So I go to the fact that e-sports has been entertained as a potential sports category in the Olympics for years and ask Adrian, a former Olympian himself, what he thinks about that.

“When it comes to e-sports I’m a little torn,” he says, mentioning that with most physical sports, you only really need your body to play them, but with e-sports “there’s [sic] those requirements to play a game...[you need] internet, electricity, the equipment ….” Certainly not everyone will be able to become an e-sports athlete, and those who do will come from a level of privilege not as easily accessible.

Nevertheless, Adrian is convinced that e-sports will eventually become an Olympic sport. Given their growth in popularity, and the fact that games have developed in such a way that demands professional skills and insight, “it seems like a natural evolution.”

Outside of the Olympics, Adrian is convinced that the future of gaming will move towards interactive film, the likes of Bandersnatch, the new and incredibly popular Netflix “series,” where viewers can make choices for the main protagonist that lead to different endings. With the proliferation of VR (virtual reality), it’s quite possible that the gaming industry will aim to make games as interactive and immersive as possible.

IEGA FIFA league

We then turned our conversation to the IEGA’s FIFA League, in which Adrian is a proud participant. He explains to me that he joined up for the community aspect of the game. Unlike some leagues, the IEGA’s FIFA league is very communal. Players are fun to play with; they crack jokes and make good friendships. This isn’t to say that the league isn’t competitive (because it is) but that it also serves as a community.

Adrian appreciates the IEGA for their highly organized management of the league that “takes the thinking out of the gamer” and just allows them to focus on the matches. And any and all feedback by players to the league is taken seriously.

The talent in the league varies, but those who may start in a lower level, never stay there. Everyone ends up getting better in time and becoming serious contenders themselves.

The interests in joining the league also vary, with those who just want to join a community, to those who’re probably interested in becoming professional gamers themselves. In the end, however, your skills are bound to develop.

I asked Adrian then where he thinks he’ll finish at this year’s league tournament. He says he sees himself on the number one spot. “I’ve been really close at making it to the playoffs, and playing some good FIFA, but I think this is my year.” His main strategy is to play more fluidly and adapt quickly to different opponents.

Let’s see what happens.