Video gamers proud of their cul­ture

They were once con­fined to the base­ment or bed­room but se­ri­ous video gamers are step­ping into the light. With next-gen­er­a­tion con­soles and PCs, more in-depth sto­ry­lines and ad­vances in graph­ics, it’s lit­tle sur­prise the video game in­dus­try is boom­ing. Jul

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Esther Ng has been a video game fa­natic since she was in pri­mary school.

As a young teenager it was easy for her to spend 10 hours a day planted in front of the screen with a con­troller in her hand dur­ing the hol­i­days.

One of her favourites was Coun­terstrike.

‘‘My par­ents hated it,’’ the St He­liers res­i­dent says.

‘‘My Dad would say: ‘Aren’t girls not sup­posed to play games like that?’’’

Ini­tially her brother wouldn’t let her near his con­sole so she played in se­cret most of the time.

‘‘I al­ways had pri­mar­ily fe­male friends but didn’t tell them I played video games,’’ the 18-year-old says.

‘‘It wasn’t my main hobby . . . but when I talked to guys about it, my girl­friends would be like: ‘ How do you know about this?’’’

The com­merce and science stu­dent has be­come more com­fort­able with be­ing a gamer.

She joined the Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land Video Game Club and has since be­come the club’s mar­ket­ing manager.

Ng has a busy sched­ule but tries to fit in a cou­ple of hours of gam­ing ev­ery day, mostly while on cam­pus.

‘‘When I’m a par­ent, I’ll prob­a­bly force [my chil­dren] to play games so I can beat them,’’ she says.

Ng is one of the few fe­male gamers in the 400-strong club, some­thing co-pres­i­dent Jack Meng thinks will change in time.

Meng’s role is to help or­gan­ise meet­ings and eS­ports gath­er­ings [tour­na­ments for gamers].

League of Leg­ends is the game of choice at the mo­ment.

Although mem­bers pre­fer to play in the com­fort of their own homes, the club tries to meet twice a month at a venue for live events.

Meng was handed the torch by Theo Martin who is now part of As­pect of Gam­ing, a group with one goal in mind – to ‘‘unite’’ gamers in New Zealand.

Martin says there are more fe­male gamers out there than peo­ple re­alise.

‘‘I think that fe­males don’t talk about [gam­ing] as much.’’

He says it’s still dif­fi­cult to shake the stigma that comes with video games and peo­ple who play them on a regular ba­sis.

‘‘In New Zealand it’s a real chal­lenge specif­i­cally. It stems from par­ents be­liev­ing New Zealan­ders are in­ter­ested in phys­i­cal sport and things like that . . . it’s some­how so­cially un­ac­cept­able to be im­mersed in gam­ing.’’

Be­cause of the way gam­ing has evolved since the early days, it has changed the way it is viewed, he says.

Sto­ry­telling and graph­ics have de­vel­oped im­mensely to the point where gamers re­ally connect with the char­ac­ters.

‘‘If you look back to Fi­nal Fan­tasy VII when the char­ac­ter dies in that game, peo­ple re­ally felt it.’’

But As­pect of Gam­ing is not all about mouse-click­ing or but­ton tap­ping, Martin says. It’s about em­brac­ing the cul­ture.

‘‘Watch­ing eS­ports for us is like oth­ers go­ing down to the pub to watch the rugby with some mates.’’

He ac­knowl­edges that some gamers are nat­u­ral in­tro­verts so it’s a way to take the pres­sure off meet­ing in a so­cial sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘Gam­ing is the thing that breaks down the walls, gets them to­gether and talk­ing. It con­nects so­cially anx­ious peo­ple. The at­ten­tion is on the game, you’re not talk­ing about or fo­cus­ing on some­thing that some in the group un­der­stand and oth­ers don’t,’’ Martin says.


Avid gamer: Esther Ng used to hide her video game hobby from her friends.

Press play: Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land Video Game Club co-pres­i­dent Jack Meng, left, and Theo Martin from As­pect of Gam­ing.

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