A love for gaming started at a young age for New Orleans resident and gamer Colette Bennett. The freelance gaming writer and contributor for CNN’s Geek Out! and Touch Arcade began with one of gaming’s all-time classics.
I think I was about six years old when I played my first game, which was Space Invaders on the Atari,” she recalled. “I used to go to my uncle’s house and he was a total tech nerd, always showing me some cool new gadget. He also had a Commodore 64 and a box of games, which he handed off to me and then left me to explore on my own.”
It was at this time that Colette discovered the title that left a lasting mark upon her.
“I’ll never forget the first game that made a true impression on me,” Bennett said. “It was called Wishbringer, and the cover depicted a pair of cupped hands holding a glowing stone. I opened the package to find all kinds of papers, mysterious maps, and a plastic replica of the Wishbringer itself, which was a plastic stone that glowed in the dark. Kinda cheesy, right? Except I was completely enthralled and it’s never let up since then.”
While the gaming industry has grown since the days of Colette’s Commodore adventures, she states that the evolution of the industry is what continues to draw her in.
“While there are some things about gaming that stay fundamentally the same, such as tried and true genres, as a whole the medium continues to evolve,” she said. “As a kid I paged endlessly through gaming and computer magazines in search of news about the next graphical advancement. Now that we’ve gotten to the point where graphics are nearing photorealism, I feel that in order to stay innovative, developers have to aim for other goals. While I enjoy the platformers and RPGs that follow the formula, the thing that keeps me gaming is the breakthrough: the game that’s a total hybrid, or something I’ve simply never played anything like before. thatgamecompany is doing a bang up job of that with titles like Journey, and we’re also seeing a bigger push for innovative gaming concepts in mobile and downloadable form as well. As long as developers keep pushing the envelope, I’ll keep watching.”
In addition to watching, Bennett has been writing. In addition to her contributions to CNN, she does freelance writing in the gaming industry with websites such as Destructoid on her resume.
“In 2007, I was living in Los Angeles and was hanging out a lot with a comic book artist a lot,” she recalled. “We had a conversation one night where I expressed my admiration for his work, and I recall I said I always wanted to write about games but never had. He looked up from the panel he was drawing and said, ‘Why don’t you start a blog, then?’ It changed everything. From there I emailed the editors of blogs I loved and admired and asked if I could be of help. Magically, it worked. I believe part of the key was that I have an outrageous amount of enthusiasm about gaming in general. It’s been a key part of my life since I was a kid, a thing with such a big presence I would call it a constant.”
While a constant in Bennett’s life all along, the number of women gamers has grown in recent years. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) statistics, 42 percent of gamers are now women, with women over 18 noted as the largest growing demographic in the industry.
“There’s always been a bigger presence of males in gaming than females,” she noted. “The last five years or so the numbers have changed a bit, but just like in all other types of media, women are frequently presented as sexy, powerful objects. I think women in gaming know this objectification exists, and I think they either feel pissed off about it or feel the need to communicate on that level, hence all the sexualized photos of women with controllers and such.”
While feeling some things may stay the same, Bennett says he hopes the day can come where that isn’t a necessary note within such a report.
“I think women will always see some disrespect in the gaming community, but I think perhaps as our numbers grow and so do our voices and people realize that some of us truly love and connect to games as much as they do, it’ll become less of a big deal. I hope one day I can be referred to less as a ‘girl gamer’, and simply as a ‘gamer.’”
Colette currently writes for CNN’s Geek Out! and Touch Arcade. Her previous work can be found at http://colettebennett.com.
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