It’s NaNoWriMo — or National Novel Writing Month — an event that happens every November where writers attempt to write 50k words of a new story. Spending time on my novels reminds me of my old fanfiction that got me into writing in the first place.
Anyone remember FanFiction.net? It still exists, of course, but I don’t hear too much about it as often as I hear about Archive of Our Own nowadays. FanFiction was one of the first writing sites that I joined, mainly so I could share some Legend of Zelda stories that I had created.
I was fourteen years old back then… damn.
If anyone’s curious, this was my FanFiction profile, last updated nine years ago today. Back then, we didn’t want our actual names on the Internet — which is vastly different from today, isn’t it? — so I merely went by “Krista” and Rachel went by “Sapphire.” The profile picture of Sheik was an old sketch of mine, as well. The solitary story that’s still up there hasn’t been updated in over ten and I still have the composition notebook that has the draft of the story.
As awful as my stories were sixteen years ago, they helped me to start this creative journey and allowed me to join my love of gaming with a newfound love of writing. The stories and characters in my favorite franchises are what keep me playing, and I discovered an outlet that let me stay in those worlds even after the credits rolled when I finished a game.
Looking back on that story at this point, I am both pleased with myself and cringe at the old writing. I’ve improved so much from ten years ago. And it all started due to me wanting to stay in the Legend of Zelda world past the end of Ocarina of Time.
Ever read fanfiction? What has been your favorite site to do so? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Have you ever thought of how you were introduced to certain game franchises that you continue to play today? Or how they may have shaped your gaming preferences over the years? That’s what this Monday Memories is about.
While I don’t remember how exactly we got on the topic of Sims 2, one of my managers from a previous job — my job that I had probably about ten years ago now — mentioned how she had nearly every Sims 2 expansion at the time. I had heard of the games but never played them and she offered to let me borrow them.
Color me surprised when she came into our next shared shift with a giant garbage bag filled with these boxes of expansion packs that had about two to four CDs worth of programming in them. I cannot remember how long it took me to install every CD that she had onto my computer, using the key codes to ensure that they were legitimate copies and all that fun stuff. Pretty sure I did not have enough time to actually play the game that day before everything was installed!
Once I did start playing the game, I was hooked. Creating your own characters, building houses, and essentially playing God was amazing. Before Sims 2, I had never really played many simulation games. Really, the games I mostly played were RPGs or adventures with a bit of platforming thrown in here and there. Not having a definitive story in a game was a foreign concept to me, as most of my games have end goals. Some weren’t as definite, no — such as the difference between Ocarina of Time’s endgame to, say, Harvest Moon games were the goal is simply to have a thriving farm — but there was always something to reach for in them.
Sims 2 basically threw me a digital dollhouse, complete with cheats and mods crafted by brilliant people, and said, “Have at it.”
Sims 3 eventually came along and I jumped on it, being just as much in awe — if not more than — of it as I was of the Sims 2, and Sims 4 has been great fun as well. The simulation genre of games has evolved into one of my favorites, with me enjoying games such as Game Dev Tycoon and Tomodachi Life. I’ve even gained more of an appreciation for the Animal Crossing franchise. Harvest Moon games are arguably simulation games as well, yet the later ones became gimmicky enough with quests and stipulations to further the gameplay that the Sims series was refreshing.
It also went hand-in-hand with my writing. In the Sims series, I’ve always been able to create my own characters with personalities and quirks, watching them react to each other and giving me ideas on how the characters can interact in my stories can be insightful to my writing.
To think, this love of a video game genre started with my manager delivering them all to me in a garbage bag.
What game started an appreciation of a new genre for you? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Going down Memory Lane again this week with another Monday Memories. This time, it’s about an old game that has helped shaped my being even through today.
If you really know me, you’d know my loves are chocolate, animals, video games, and writing. It was actually video games — Legend of Zelda, to be exact — that inspired me to start writing. I still have my original Legend of Zelda fanfiction notebooks tucked away. They exist solely to prove to myself how much I’ve improved in writing over the years.
Yet, I recently remembered another game that had prompted my love of writing even before those old fanfictions became a thing. Way back in 1994, a game called Storybook Weaver was published for Windows and Mac computers. This game allowed you to create a story with pictures. The pre-made backgrounds and characters were available for the top half of the “page,” while the bottom half of the page was space for you to type your enticing tale.
My stories tended to be about three sisters who, of course, were based off of my sisters and myself. Our old dog Casey, an English springer spaniel, also tended to have starring roles in these stories. There were a plethora of sprites available to represent us all, including seasonal sprites in case you needed to have a snowy scene in your story.
Pretty sure part of my favorite aspect of the game was just imagining the pictures, creating my dream bedroom with the sprites while imagining a story to go along with it. Thinking on it, Storybook Weaver may have also been partly responsible for me dipping my toes into drawing.
Nowadays, my love of writing and video games are tied into this blog, but my writing also shines through my stuffed physical notebooks and digital documents folders. I have a handful of first drafts of novels complete and I’m focusing on actually getting better at editing and rewriting my stories to, hopefully, publish them — either online or, perhaps, in a more traditional sense — one day.
Never would have thought a little educational game from the 90s would have helped foster creativity in my life.
What game from your childhood has directly influenced you today? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today.
I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.
The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.
It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.
Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.
One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.
It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.
I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.
Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.
One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.
I am a heteromantic asexual.
Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.
I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.
Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.
(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)
Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Today brings us back with another Monday Memories, this one dedicated to the Gameboy Color Pokemon games: Red, Blue, and Yellow. These games were introduced to me by a couple of close friends of mine from a couple of decades ago…
Way back in elementary school, I was friends with a pair of twins.
Hanging out at their house, they had a Nintendo 64 hooked up to a little television in their parents’ bedroom. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if the parents had the console there due to being sure the kids wouldn’t spend too much time playing, but I also don’t remember them having any other television. That could also be due to our days — when not playing video games — being spent playing school, pool days in the summer, walking their dog, but I digress.
It was due to these friends that I was introduced to games such as Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and Pokemon Snap, along with Pokemon Red and Blue for the Gameboy Color. I was just beginning to get interested in Pokemon, not really understanding the games themselves, but knowing that there was a cartoon and fun little cards that apparently had more of a purpose than just being pretty. I got suckered into the casual fun of taking pictures of Pokemon in Pokemon Snap and started asking for a Gameboy Color from the Easter Bunny with the Pokemon games.
The next time I had a play date with the twins, I just remember excitedly showing up at their house with my own copy of the games and Prima’s Official Strategy Guide for Pokemon Yellow. My friends were impressed, claiming that the Pokemon Yellow version was the “rarer” game (which, years later, doesn’t make sense but, hey, we were in elementary school). We spent much of that day with each of us on our respective Gameboy Colors, with each twin playing either Red or Blue and me playing Yellow.
While I unfortunately haven’t been in touch with these old friends in years — since they moved away before we even reached middle school — I do credit them as part of the reason why I enjoyed the Let’s Go titles when they came out for the Nintendo Switch. The nostalgia alone of seeing and hearing Pikachu by my character’s side throws me back to those times when I was sandwiched between my friends on the floor of their living room as we cheered each other on in battles.
I do wonder occasionally how they are doing. I hope they are doing well and, maybe, if they also have the Let’s Go Pokemon titles that they’re marveling at the evolution (pun intended) of the games as well as share this bittersweet feeling about a dissipating friendship as I do.
Do you have any old friends that you connected with over video games that you may not see as much now? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
It’s a holiday where we are, and we’re hunkered down at home due to snow blanketing the ground outside. It was the perfect weekend to just relax at home with some hot chocolate and good video games.
When I first started gaming, I mainly played single-player games. Granted, I think back in the early 90s, when many consoles only came with two controllers, many of the games I picked up were only single-player. Aside from that reason, it was also because I was the main gamer in my family. I grew up watching my uncle play, but we didn’t play as much together when I started playing myself (mainly because, ya know, we lived in different houses and he was an adult with things like a job and taxes and probably some sort of social life that I never saw). There was some games I was able to rope my father into playing once in a while, and I remember watching my older sister play Super Mario Bros. occasionally but, until Rachel came along and was old enough to comprehend video games, I was on my own.
Thank God for Rachel, because if she didn’t get interested in video games, I don’t know if I would have continued playing. I adored the stories and the characters that I saved the world with when playing games, but it kind of sucked coming back to the real world and having no one to talk to about how you slayed the final boss with an epic sword attack to the head.
The majority of my friends weren’t into video games, or at least not as much as I was. The only console one friend owned was a Nintendo 64 and she only had Majora’s Mask and Goldeneye, and I’m pretty sure she only had the latter because of her love of the James Bond franchise. The former helped her understand some of my gushing of the Legend of Zelda series. Another friend shared my love of Pokemon for a while in elementary and middle school. A third friend was into video games almost as much as me, but it wasn’t something we spoke about too often. Video games wasn’t much of a topic among my friends, and I kept it as my own little hobby.
Until the Nintendo GameCube came out.
It was 2001 and I was eleven. Rachel and I probably got the GameCube for Christmas that year, and one of its first homes was in the kitchen porch, hooked up to the house’s smallest television. The GameCube library was one of my favorites from Nintendo, with one definite notable favorite: Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was because of this game that “video game nights” became a staple in my friend group throughout middle school and high school.
Everyone would show up at our house and take over the basement where the GameCube would temporarily be located and hooked up to the big screen television (thanks, Dad, for giving up your “room!”), and we’d all proceed to kick each other’s asses in Super Smash Bros. Melee and, when it came out, Mario Kart Double Dash. Pizza and chocolate were our diets for the night, and Mom loved the fact that we were all staying put at home instead of getting into trouble elsewhere. Even later, when the Wii came out, that console’s Smash Bros. and Mario Kart had a lot of hours put into them, even as we were all growing a little older.
I haven’t played video games with any of them since we left high school.
But remember that friend who only had the N64 with Goldeneye and Majora’s Mask? A couple of Christmases ago, she bought her husband a refurbished Wii with the sole purpose of getting Super Smash Bros. because of those video game nights at my house so many years ago, because of those memories.
I definitely miss those times, but video game technology has grown so much since I first became a gamer. While I may not be playing locally with old school friends any longer, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and game consoles these days, I am able to play with new friends in entirely different countries and that’s pretty damn awesome. Video games have become so much more than a hobby — it’s been the common thread between many wonderful friendships, both old and new, throughout the years.
Did you play a lot of video games with old friends? Did the games bring you closer? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around
The Nintendo Switch and the 2DS XL are our current go-to consoles when it comes to playing games lately. Recently, however, I found my old Game Boy Advance during a cleaning spree, and I remember how much I used the old handheld…
The Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 and I loved using mine over my Game Boy Color. The landscape screen for the games made it seem like the screen was so much bigger and I remember having the little worm light adapter hovering over the screen to make it brighter. The backward compatibility for Game Boy Color games was an added bonus.
I went through so many pairs of AA batteries when playing my Game Boy Advance, wearing it down while playing favorites like the Pokemon series, particularly Emerald, Sonic the Hedgehog games, Harvest Moon, and Fire Emblem. It was with the Game Boy Advance that I started my love affair with the Harvest Moon and Fire Emblem franchises.
Besides being home to some of my favorite old games, the Game Boy Advance was used quite often when Rachel and I were playing The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for the GameCube. With the link cable to hook up the Advance to the console, Rachel and I had some awesome adventures playing a co-op Legend of Zelda. More often than not, I was diving forward to meet the enemies while Rachel was trailing along, picking up all the treasure I would leave behind. It was a good system.
The wireless adapter that came with Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen was also a treat, granting us a Union Room that allowed easy trading and battling. Granted, Rachel and I tended to be the only ones in said Union Room, but it was definitely easier than the link cables we had for the Game Boy Colors when it came to trading and showing off our teams to one another.
I found my old Game Boy Advance buried in one of my old desk drawers, with the cover to the batteries being gone and the batteries themselves all corroded. For the heck of it, I cleaned out the dead batteries and tried putting fresh ones in, but to no avail. The poor console was officially dead. Still, it was nice finding it, especially since I thought it got caught in the basement flood years ago (pretty sure that’s what happened to my Game Boy Color!).
Did you have a Game Boy Advance? What was your favorite older handheld console?
Today we’re taking a stroll down Memory Lane. I was digging through some old school stuff the other day, finding some things that reminded me of one of my favorite college courses.
Back when I was in college, I took a sci-fi and fantasy course as an English elective. It was probably one of my favorite classes, considering homework assignments included watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we spent a class or two discussing the differences between the book’s and movie’s ending of the Watchmen. During about of month of classes, we focused on video games and their place in society. To go along with this theme, we played the MMORPG Warhammer.
At that time, I was fairly new to MMORPGs. Really, the only one I had played was City of Heroes, and it was mostly solo missions. Meeting the rest of the class in one of the study rooms of the library and loading up the game from the computer folder “Math Homework,” (so other students in the school wouldn’t find the game, of course) was a treat. We created our characters and explored the world either together or in groups, and our homework assignment consisted of playing with our characters enough to write up some fantasy diary entries or short stories.
While playing a session, we were told to create “dark” characters rather than heroes, and I was finding it absurd how little clothing the female dark elf I was being had on. The so-called armor was little more than a bikini and I lamented about it to the classmate I was playing with. “Andrew” was creating his own character and waiting for mine to materialize in the world, saying, “Eh, I’m sure it’s fine.”
As soon as my character appeared, his character — dressed fairly normal for a starting character — turned to look at mine and I just heard him say, “Wow… you’re really not wearing anything… But that’s okay, I won’t tell! Let’s go this way!” Cue my scantily-clad character running after his as he loped through the beach-like setting we were in.
In another session, my character was killed by a boar due to another player antagonizing it and the creature believing I was with him by proximity. This other player — who wasn’t in my class, mind you — continued to show up randomly throughout the session and I tended to get into trouble due to his antics.
Yet another session included someone — again, not in my class — following my character around and asking if I was really a girl. Pretty sure I ignored him until the previously-mentioned player appeared in the area and I ended up poisoned somehow.
While playing this game, we had one of my favorite writing assignments. We were told to put ourselves in our character’s shoes, writing diary entries or a short adventure story based on our play-through. Considering how much I enjoy writing, especially pieces that are inspired by the fantasy worlds of video games, this was right up my alley.
We didn’t play Warhammer for very long, but they were still a great couple of weeks. I didn’t play much of it on my own, and the online game itself has been shut down since 2013. It gave me a great taste of MMORPGs, aside from City of Heroes, giving me a new way to play video games. Considering how many online games there are now — PUBG, Fortnite, Overwatch, Star Wars, to name just a small few — playing MMORPGs more is something that is still on my bucket list.
Did you ever play Warhammer? Any other MMORPGs that you want to recommend?