My favorite character ever is Gaige from Borderlands 2 because she perfectly relates to who I was as a teenager and makes the gameplay so much fun!

One Christmas, I woke up to find a brand new Playstation 2 under the Christmas tree – with my name on it. It came with one of my favorite games of all-time: Burnout 2. That day, we hooked it up to the TV and my family spent hours laughing as we competed to be the one to create the most havoc by crashing a car. The laughter still rings in my mind.

Back then, my sister and I were only starting to become gamers. I’d spent part of my youth playing board games with my family, and had just started to discover video games. I’d become more of a gamer in high school, as I tried in vain to beat Tomb Raider and found joy in everything from crashing cars to flying Snoopy’s doghouse through the skies. Gaming introduced me to a multitude of friends – watching Red vs. Blue on our lunch breaks and spending hours after school battling it out in Burnout.

Gaming stayed with me to this very day – and I’ve gone through phases: Burnout and Need for Speed, Call of Duty, Skyrim, and now Fallout. I play a variety of games, ranging from first-person shooters to detailed immersive games and indie releases. I play on the Playstation, Xbox, computer, and iPad.

I game because it’s part of who I am. Gaming provided stress relief: an outlet from the world where I could vent my anger, escape into lives that I wished I could live, and though I didn’t fully know it then, help me build skills like hand-eye coordination and creativity. Even today, I dive into Minecraft when I just want to escape from the world and build something beautiful.

Gaming also introduced me to so many friends, past and present. My core group of high school friends gathered around the computer each day to watch Red vs. Blue. In college, my love for gaming introduced me to a girl who is now one of my closest friends. And even today, gaming opens up new doors for me. It brought my high school love and I back together, and it’s one of our favorite things to do. He also introduced me to wargaming, and I’m now finding that I kind of love duking out battles with a bunch of minis.

Gaming has also opened up one of the biggest doors of my life – the ability to create an exhibit about gamers, specifically gamer girls, and explore the myriad of ways that gaming positively impacts the world. I’ve met professional gamers and non-profit leaders who are using gaming to make such a huge difference to the lives of so many. I watch YouTubers who inspire us to be better, to do good work, and to embrace our differences as the thing that makes us so beautiful as individuals and as groups of friends united by a common passion.

And I still think back to that Christmas morning. Gaming brought my family together that day. Of all the things that could have happened, my family discovered that we’re all gamers in our own way – and that gaming was a passion that would create memories to last a lifetime.

Like a myriad of other experiences – from storytelling around winter hearths to bards singing in great halls to sitting around the radio – gaming brings us together in unexpected ways and shows us that, deep down, we’re more alike than we tend to believe.

-Tiffany Rhoades
Program Developer
Girl Museum Inc.
Florida, USA

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