Roger Ebert once wrote that games can never be art. “No one,” he said, “in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists, and poets.” For a while, I agreed with him.
Growing up, I didn’t have much exposure to video games outside of my Nintendo 64. The only games I had were Mario Kart, Mario 64, and Pokémon Snap. Everyone else had Super Mario Smash Brothers, but I was never that good and often left out. Like many teens, I struggled to find my place. I was surrounded by friends but was suffering internally and felt terribly lonely. I read fantasy books to escape and developed a deep appreciation for literature and poetry. Reading and writing became an outlet for everything that I was feeling. My interest in gaming faded. I didn’t have time for games because I didn’t think they were worth my time. The closest I came was having my mom buy me a PlayStation so I could invite friends over to play Dance Dance Revolution. I was desperate to be popular and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I never bought anything else for my PlayStation. I saw commercials for Grand Theft Auto and thought that this was the extent of video game culture. To me, games were pop culture, horror, blood, guts, and, in my opinion, shallow. As a girl, I didn’t think games were meant for me. They were for boys playing soldiers. Boys who took pleasure in blood splattering and killing and hypersexualizing women.
My PlayStation collected dust.
I didn’t start to adjust my views until I moved in with my boyfriend last summer, around the same time Destiny was released. It was one of the few times, he said, that he would ever preorder a video game as it was supposed to be the next big thing since Halo. The highly anticipated game came with a promise of celebrity voice talent, a unique story, outstanding visuals, and revolutionary online gameplay. I nodded and said nothing. I didn’t really care that much.