Finding My Way Through Gaming
Finding My Way Through Gaming
By: Maggie Mae Lee - Journalist, Do a Barrel Roll
It’s my first day of Junior High School. I walk into my new classroom and the first thing I notice is how clean it is; the bare white walls and shiny tile floors nearly blind me. I cringe, realizing that my all black outfit and crooked black haircut probably look more daunting than usual against the pearly background. I approach a group of desks filled with girls I recognize from elementary school. Brittany, Callie, and Sabrina are crowned in checkered headbands, and their back-to-school outfits are perfectly pressed. I try to smile at them, but they avoid my gaze. My heart sinks, and I quickly change pace for the back of the classroom, sitting beside a kid asleep on his desk, and another with his hood up and headphones on.
Oh great, I think. It’s my first thirty seconds of junior high and I’ve already managed to become one of the losers. Then, I heard something; a familiar voice.
“Pstt, Maggie! Have you reached level 71 yet?” Good old Sam from elementary leans over to me, his shaggy blonde hair tickling his brow, and makes fun of the World of Warcraft hobby I picked up over the Summer. In 2007, the level cap in World of Warcraft was level 70, so he liked to joke that I played so much that I broke the system and reached level 71. I jokingly shush him in embarrassment, but not before a classmates picks up the reference.
“Hey, you play WoW?” The boy beside me takes off his headphones, and gives me an imploring look. I nod shyly.
“My brother plays too, he’s a Shadow Priest.” The sleeping boy sits upright and jumps into the conversation.
Blushing, yet excited to share my enthusiasm with others, I squeak to my new friends “I used to play a Priest, but I’m a Fire Mage now.”
“Yo, let’s get a classroom guild going!” Sam throws up his hand for a high five, and the once-sleeping boy gives it a smack.
I notice the group of preppy girls looking over at us and, suddenly, I realize I’m no longer sitting on the uncool side of the room. One of them then leans over and says, “my brother plays too… but I prefer Super Smash Bros.”
And suddenly, everyone is talking. Girl to boy, frumpy clothes to perfect pigtails, familiar face to stranger, about the one thing we all have in common - video games. And, I transform from being Maggie, the girl who no one to sit with, into Maggie the Gamer Chick. This identity gives me the confidence to make 7th grade, and junior high school, one of the fondest times of my life.
It’s my second year of high school, and I’m less awkward now. In fact, I actually have a lot of friends. With a combination of real life friends to hang out with, close online friends to talk to, and so many great games to play, surviving high school isn’t as hard as Hollywood made it seem.
However, that’s until my younger sister is diagnosed with cancer.
I should be finishing my last year of university in Miami, Florida, but my sister’s battle becomes harder than ever. Though my family insists for me not to, I take time off of school to help out at home. At first, I loved having all this extra time with my sister and family. Together, we devour multiple TellTale games, and even set up our old Wii console to fit in some mild stretching and exercise at the hospital. But after a few months I begin to feel very isolated and alone, despite being in my hometown. Going away for college came at the price of losing most of my high school friends. But I try to reconnect, anyway, and call up a friend named Lucy.
“Hey Lucy! What are you up to? I haven't seen you in a while” I ask.
“Hey Mags! Yeah I’ve been so busy… school, work, and I’m dating Kyle again.”
“Oh, wow! I had no idea you guys got back together!”
“Yeah, after Greg’s party!” I realize I was not invited to Greg’s party.
“Wanna do something soon? Hang out?” I ask.
“Ah jeeze… hmm... maybe next Tuesday we can do a quick lunch? Oh crap, wait, I promised to hang out with Sydney then. Maybe the Tuesday after that?
I don’t try calling Lucy again.
Fine, I thought. If my community wasn’t going to include me, I’ll make my own… Just like that first day of junior high... I throw on an old Aperture Science sweatshirt and dig out an outdated webcam. I start a stream on Twitch.
A month later, it’s 3am, and forty-five people from around the world are watching my stream. Together we are screaming, on the edge of our seats, erupting in laughter and cheers. As I reach the last checkpoint of Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. Saturday nights got a lot less lonely for me and many others.
My younger sister has beaten her cancer, but needs ongoing care at the Toronto General Hospital. After I go back to school and graduate, we move from Edmonton, Alberta to Toronto. My dad asks me if I’m nervous to move to a new city, where I don’t know anyone, but I tell him no. Thanks to video games (especially Fortnite) it has never been easier to keep in touch with all the important people in my life. With just a click of a button, I can hang out with friends from university, old World of Warcraft guildmates, and people from my Twitch Stream, regardless of location. And, unlike a phone call, this form of socializing bonds us closer together as we both have an objective to fulfill while enjoying the time we spend together. Thus, I have yet to feel alone, even in a new city.
In many ways, these different stages of my life have just been a re-simulation of that first day of seventh grade. In times of loneliness or transition the answer has always been the same; stay close to your passion, and have confidence in your identity. With this attitude, I have learnt that the people who are meant to be in your life will come your way, and stay, no matter the location, or situation.