Why do I game? There is a very straightforward answer: I like the escape that gaming offers.
As someone who moved around a lot as a kid I was often anxious and had a hard time making friends because of the constant fear that I would have to leave those friends behind. Games offered me an opportunity to go on adventures, make friends with the characters, and feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.
As a child I played board games with my sister as often as I could and when I got the Gameboy pocket for my 7th birthday I began playing some retro classics like Megaman: Dr Wiley’s Revenge and Paperboy. As I grew up I picked up a variety of games for the gameboy and my family’s Apple Macintosh, (Back when they were still called Macintosh). I loved the mystery and depth of the world in Myst and Riven. I Loved the collecting aspects and battle mechanics of games like Pokemon and Megaman Battle Network. I delved into the massive worlds of Golden Sun and Breath of Fire on the Gameboy Advance.
While I would like to say I got into TTRPGs at this time, I had about two mediocre experiences playing a Christian themed TTRPG with some friends. I wouldn’t try another TTRPG until I was about 19 with a group of people I didn’t know and couldn’t overcome my own anxiety around doing actual roleplay with. After moving to Idaho, my love of games turned into regularly playing Magic the Gathering, Betrayal at House on the Hill and the DC Deck Building games. Games which required seeing people in person, and required making friends to actually enjoy them. These games paved the way for me to actually get into Pathfinder because they helped me be less anxious, to learn rules and make friends more easily.
One common theme throughout my years of gaming is that I would create characters that I felt best represented myself. Which is to say, I would always play as a woman and connect with those characters. Gaming for me was not just an escape from the world around me, but from the fact that I often felt uncomfortable in my skin. By playing as a woman in games like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2, I could interact with people without them knowing I was anything besides who I felt I was.
Events in my life forced me to take stock of what I wanted in my life and who I wanted to be and I decided to be myself, not in a game, but in real-life. Once I took the step to begin my transition from who I used to be to who I am now I began playing Pathfinder again, for real this time. I create characters that help me identify areas of my life I’m struggling with and work through them. So, why do I play games? So that I can be the best version of myself.