the funny thing about being a girl interested in video-games as a kid is that every time you meet a boy also interested in video-games and get excited to talk about those games, someone will accuse you of flirting.
let me explain. i grew up with a mom who used to play video-games when i was a lot younger and she wasn’t working two jobs to support myself and my sister. and as such, we had a game system or two. i got interested in gaming at the age of 4, first playing some kid games on our SNES and then games like resident evil, need 4 speed, tomb raider, gex, and blazing dragons when my dad sold our SNES and mom bought a playstation instead. i didn’t consider it anything more than an odd hobby really, until i started playing final fantasy 7.
i vividly remember how the topic came up. while looking through our small collection of game discs, i found a copy of ff7 (pre-greatest hits mind you). and i yelled down to my mom’s office, “hey mommy, i remember you playing this game when i was little! can i play final fantasy 7?” she said “sure, I don’t care. go ahead.” “but it says it’s rated T and that means you have to be 13 right? but I’m 11.” “that’s okay, you can play it.”
and then suddenly I had over 30 hours clocked into it within a matter of days. gaming quickly became an obsession. and i knew it was an obsession people at my school thought was weird. because i was a girl. and girls don’t play video-games. so i didn’t talk about it much. but when i heard someone mention crash bandicoot or soul reaver or whatever game was popular at the time, i had to get in on that discussion.
the thing about being a nerd is that when you find someone else who likes the thing you like, you’re probably going to be visibly excited, almost jumping out of your chair excited, let me love you excited. whether it was harry potter or video-games, it never failed that once in awhile somehow in class a classmate would bring it up and i’d be so excited. so excited. because i didn’t have any friends and i wanted to talk about things that i liked with other people and make new friends. but it also never failed that every time a guy and i would start talking about how neat the latest spyro game was or how i’m stuck on a boss fight in the legend of dragoon and how terrible it was, some other girl who thought video-games were weird would chime in, “ooooh, you’re flirting with him!!!!”
it’s hard to explain, when you are 12, that just because you like the same things as someone and want to talk about those things does not mean you are flirting. it’s hard to explain because the second someone accuses you of flirting the entire classroom is staring at you, making kissy noises, making fun of you, and you can’t do anything but say “i’m not!!!” because your face is flushed and you’re trying not to cry and the guy you were talking to is suddenly laughing at you and doesn’t want to talk about video-games anymore, he just wants to make fun of you too. because all you can think about is how no one is going to let this die for at least a week and you will forever be known as “the girl who tried to flirt with a guy over video-games or cars or something only boys like.”
and so you stop talking about video-games.