When I first held a controller in my hands, I felt such a rush of excitement as I stared at the Nintendo GameCube accessory, its large triggers and buttons gleaming brightly. Mashing those buttons while playing Mario Kart or Mario Party 6 was mind-blowing for five-year-old Shel. Then, something absolutely magical happened: I got a second controller.
I’m pretty sure I invited my elementary friends at least three times a week. We’d sit on my tattered couch in front of a tiny TV screen as Mario and the rest of his friends dashed through race courses, throwing banana peels and shells. My aunt would occasionally join in on the fun. I spent many hours on that couch with friends. My mom would sometimes get out an old video camera and record me playing with friends or by myself. Looking back, I was a terrible driver. It was always the bombs and banana peels that got me.
Now, however, things have changed.
With each new generation of consoles, the relationship between the internet and gaming has grown exponentially. We can now record our gameplay right from our console and upload it to Twitter, YouTube, and other media sites. Online gaming has also grown, going from simple two-player to four-player to large parties of friends and strangers having a good time slaying dragons and hoarding gold. Here’s where the problems arise. “Mainstream” online gaming—or at least what the majority imagines when they hear “online gaming”—consists of a bunch of men with headphones playing World of Warcraft or League of Legends. Now, what happens when you add a woman or two into the picture?