I'm not a Gamer: A Reflection by Suzanne Sutherland

I'm not a Gamer: A Reflection by Suzanne Sutherland

Posted on January 26 by Suzanne Sutherland in Teens
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I'm not a gamer.

I was raised on an NES with a bootleg cartridge of more than three hundred games - most of which were glitchy beyond recognition, but several of which were actually playable. I spent hours mastering Tetris and my favourite side-scroller, Circus Troupe (which, upon further googling may have actually been called Circus Charlie on copies that weren't super illegal). I dabbled in Mario Brothers, Pac Man and (the unfortunately named) Pooyan.

But I'm not a gamer.

A few years after that, my friends and I got into point-and-click adventure games like King's Quest, Legend of Kyrandia, The Seventh Guest and Monkey Island. We spent whole afternoons mapping out safe paths through catacombs and treacherous caves, and beating our heads against the wall at just how easy it was to die. We practically had passports to the kingdom of Daventry - and I may or may not have tried my hand at King's Quest fan fiction...

But I'm not a gamer.

Last year I had to forcibly delete Candy Crush and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood from my phone because the temptation for just one more sugar crush or runway fashion show in Milan proved to be just too much distraction at work. (Like, seriously. I would kill for a few K stars right now or  message from Kim.)

But I'm not a gamer.

I'm not a gamer because somewhere along the way of playing King's Quest VI for the thousandth time and obsessing over how many tragic lemmings I could save on a particularly brutal level, I stopped feeling like there was anything new for me in games. I've never been one for first-person shooters or combat-based games, and the only people I knew who played video games once I got high school were playing games that didn't interest me. King's Quest VIII added mandatory combat to its game play, and that effectively sealed the coffin on my interest.

So I stopped playing.

I stopped playing and I stopped even thinking about games. I found new fanfic inspiration. I got into small-press books and zines in a big way, and I forgot all about video games.

Because I was interested in telling stories.

But, then again, so were games.

I remember where I was when I first heard about Dames Making Games - at work - and I remember who I told -  my former work-wife. I told her, in excited, squealing tones, about this group - a collective of feminists, aiming to make games and game-making more accessible for all.

Oh, I thought, I forgot that I kind of loved this.

A few years and a few half-hearted attempts to make games of my own later, I still don't consider myself a gamer, but DMG has opened my eyes to the incredible power of storytelling in games and game-making. I am so, so grateful for the work that they do.

Was it internalized misogyny or a discomfort with my own geekiness that made me turn away from games when I was younger? I may never have the same passion I did toward my favourite games when I was a kid, but I have a newfound appreciation for game-playing and game-making and the beautifully varied spectrum of storytelling.

It's what made me want to write a character who finds her voice through games.

Because I am not a gamer.

But Victoria Mahler is.

Suzanne Sutherland

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014

Suzanne Sutherland

Suzanne Sutherland is the author of two previous novels, Something Wiki and When We Were Good, which was a finalist for the inaugural Speaker's Young Authors Award and selected for the American Library Association's Rainbow List. She lives in Toronto.