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You're reading 'The Gamer Within'. This is AOC gaming's spotlight on the human experience behind the games, the players themselves, the choices they make as well as the stories and connections that matter to so many.
This is our attempt to show the human side of the digital realm, putting the spotlight on the players themselves: why they do what they do, who they are underneath. In an increasingly divided world, it's getting harder to see what we all have in common over what makes us different. But games have the power to cross the divide, be it continental, generational or anything in between. All over the world, in every corner of our planet, people are united as gamers, their passion within driving them to keep playing. Its time to hear the stories of how this happened, how we got here and where we're going. The individuals, the organizations and the games themselves, every single one has a story within. Every gamer is different, every story is unique, this is the gamer within.
There’s a dangerous misconception surrounding the notion of what makes up a ‘gamer’. The idea that in order to conform to that particular societal label one must shun the company of others, consume only soda and nachos, and spend an unhealthy amount of time in front of a screen is a concept that has followed gamers since the first console arrived in people’s homes.
Of course, this is 2018 and harmful stereotypes like the one above are well on their way to being forgotten. Ask anyone who’s ever interacted with media in a meaningful way and they will confirm that absolutely anyone can be a gamer. From the instant accessibility of Candy Crush Saga or Pokémon Go all the way up to the high-stakes competition of a televised DOTA 2 match, gamers now come in all shapes and sizes. Gone are the days of the high school nerd, shunned for their in-depth knowledge of where every single piece of heart is located in Ocarina of Time. In their place, any one of us could offer valuable insight as to the location of a shrine in Breath Of The Wild that a colleague or friend just cannot find.
It stands to reason, then, that if gaming culture and the pastime of gaming has fully arrived into the mainstream then those paragons of mainstream culture — celebrities and other famous people — must also have heard the call of interactive media. And boy, have they! Celebrities love playing video games just as much as anyone else, and their reasons might just be more relatable than you think.
Superman himself is known for his proclivity for dungeon crawling. Despite the sci-fi leanings of his silver-screen based superheroics, Cavill is firmly in the fantasy camp when it comes to his games. The actor famously regaled Conan O’Brien with the story of how he missed a call from Man Of Steel director Zach Snyder informing him of getting the part of Superman. His reason for not picking up the phone? Cavill was too busy questing through Azeroth in World Of Warcraft to pick up the phone. He’s also recently been cast in Netflix’s upcoming series The Witcher, based on the book and game franchise of the same name. Cavill told IGN how he’d recently finished replaying The Witcher III, despite its impressive 70-hour play time. Cavill’s video game fandom is therefore undisputed.
UFC icon and current WWE star Ronda Rousey is known for her unapologetic love of all things Warcraft. From cosplay to cons, Rousey can be spotted repping her affection for the franchise multiple times over. In 2015 it appeared that Blizzard, the developers of World Of Warcraft, were even reciprocal of her love, deliberately building an easter-egg into the game named “Rhonda” that matched the talented fighter’s appearance. This was later confirmed as a mistake on the part of eager fans, keen to see synergy between Rousey and franchise — the character is actually named after a developer on the game. What should have been Rhonda Cox’s proudest moment was unfortunately overshadowed by the unstoppable fandom of Rhonda Rousey and her association with the game. The ties run deep.
Canadian rapper Aubrey “Drake” Graham broke the Internet earlier this year when he joined forces with popular streamer Tyler Blevins — better known as “Ninja” — for an impromptu session in 2018’s most popular game, Fortnite. Breaking the record for most concurrent viewers on a Twitch stream, 635,000 people tuned in to see the rapper take pot-shots and proclaim “God’s plan” while healing a teammate. Throughout the stream, Drake snacked on pizza and chatted League Of Legends with Ninja, confirming his passion for competitive gameplay extends beyond the Battle Royale genre.
It doesn’t get much more iconic than actor Michelle Rodriguez. She’s appeared in movie franchises as popular as The Fast & The Furious (2001) and Avatar (2009) and is now dazzling critics with an Oscar-tipped performance in the upcoming drama Widows (2018). But Rodriguez has been a gamer as long as she’s been an actress — you just might not have heard about it. She told Yahoo that she blames her brother for introducing her to an early iteration of the Doom franchise, and a lasting love was born. Rodriguez has no time for fantasy though — she says that it has to be FPS games the whole time or nothing at all.
The beloved gone-to-soon actor who starred in movies such as Aladdin (1992), Good Will Hunting (1997) and Jumanji (1995) was well known for his love of interactive media, particularly anything Nintendo-based. Williams starred in an iconic series of ads where he spent time with his daughter playing the latest iteration in the Legend Of Zelda franchise on the Nintendo 3DS. The actor’s love for the franchise extended way beyond being willing to star in a marketing campaign for Nintendo. The name of his real-life daughter, who stars alongside him in the commercials? Zelda, named for that very franchise he advertised. It seems Robin Williams was as big a fan as any of us. Perhaps even bigger!
So, next time you’re storming a beach with your platoon or raiding a dungeon with your guild, keep in mind that one of your squad might just be more than what their screenname reveals. They might be Superman.