Sameer's Story - From Lamer to Gamer

A Gamer Story by Sameer Kotwal

Introverted. Reserved. Shy. These three words described me when I was growing up as a minority in the small rural town of Woodstock. No confidence, and especially no friends, just anxiety. In elementary school, as soon as the last bell rang, I would pick up my things, toss them in my knapsack, and walk straight home, while everyone else stayed for band rehearsal or to play basketball together.

            Fast forward several years: I’m an upper year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga completing my Bachelor of Science. In some ways, I have grown drastically from the timid, reserved kid I used to be, but in other ways, I’m very much the same.

            When I first came to UTM, I met all types of people, people from all different countries, with all different backgrounds and experiences, different interests, different skills. Seeing this helped me be more confident in myself, confident enough to muster up the courage to ask out the prettiest girl I know.

We’ve now been dating for just over a year, but our relationship has not been without growing pains. Admittedly, the majority of these pains came from me and the issues I faced in my younger years dealing with feeling comfortable enough to open up. I’ve always known that closeness and openness are very important in relationships, but the barriers I had unconsciously put up for years were still standing.

But along the way, we found a way to break those barriers down.

One day, after a long day of classes upon classes and back-to-back sessions with the high school students I tutor, I came home to relax and play FIFA on my PS4. I grabbed a Coca-Cola from the fridge, whipped up some Maggi noodles, settled into my desk chair, and turned on my PS4 and monitor.

Then, I heard a knock on the door.

I heard the door creak open.

“Hello?”

My girlfriend Erica’s voice rang out through my apartment.

I forgot.

We made plans.

“I’m in here,” I called back to her. I sighed and put my controller down on my desk.

Another time, I thought, as I grabbed the remote to turn off my TV monitor.

“What’s wrong?” Erica asked, when she walked into my room. “Oh cool, you’re playing FIFA! Can I play? I used to school my dad in this game, but that was like, FIFA ’07. So I may be a little rusty.”

It was music to my ears.

It turned out that Erica had grown up with a significantly older brother who, in his early teenage years (and her single digits), would let her play Halo, Simpson’s Road Rage, and Star Wars Battlefront with him as practice for when he would play against his friends. As a result of that quality time, she had grown up loving gaming almost as much as I did.

From then on, we spent any free time we had together gaming—when we weren’t in class, studying, cooking, eating, sleeping, or working, of course—and by experiencing the euphoric ups and tragic downs of gaming together, our relationship grew stronger as I learned how to share my emotions with her. Every team win and loss, enemy defeat or triumph, and challenges passed or failed let us share happiness, frustration, sadness, vulnerability, and, most of all, laughs.