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February 9, 2010

Anatomy of a Gamer Girl, Part 1

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In this two part article, Mkerr from tracks down and interviews one of the most elusive of all players -- the hardcore girl gamer. So let's see what makes an actual gamer girl tick!

Exactly one month ago, TastyTaste graced us with a fun article titled "Girls, Girls, Girls", where he rhetorically asked the age-old question "how do I get a woman to play with little army men voluntarily?". The article struck a note with the community and quickly tallied more than 400 comments!

Buried in the flood of comments was a link to a blog post titled "Cloud Gets Beat By a Girl" on Paul's Basement League, where Paul introduced us to "Zephri", an honest-to-god-hardcore-gaming-girl. The article is a friendly ribbing / battle report, but two things quickly grabbed my attention.

The first thing I noticed was that a girl trashed a CSM army with Necrons (awesome!). The second was this picture:

"Necrons can be competitive, if played right"
(Click for the picture for a high resolution version: 3264x2448, 2.6MB)

Not only did I see what appeared to be a pretty girl playing 40K, I saw that girl playing Necrons! So donning my "Ace Reporter"-brand Fedora and notepad, I took it upon myself to track down this "Zephri" to see if she was real.

Guess what? She was real. Her name is Cassie and she's an honest-to-god-true-hardcore-gamer-girl ("h2gthgg" for short? -- Bigred). After chatting with her, I felt like I opened my back door and saw a unicorn standing in my yard. She's the whole shebang. #1: She's a hardcore video gamer (I design video games for a living and she plays way more than me). #2: She's paper RPG player (she plays D&D and s in a weekly Rogue Trader campaign). #3: She collects, paints and plays tabletop wargames (she picked Necrons because she loves they way the look and play). It's the trifecta of gaming geek!

And she was nice enough to grant me this interview.You'll find part one of this interview below, and you'll find the second part (with more pictures and links) at Chainfist.

But let's get to the questions!

Mkerr: "Okay, it has to be asked. Were you actually playing that game of 40K or did someone trick you into standing next to the table and then take a picture?"

Cassie (laughing): "That's actually me, playing *my* Necrons with some friends. I actually drove six hours to play 40K with those guys -- it was a lot of fun!"

Mkerr: "From the posts on your blog, it looks like you are into all kinds of gaming (RPGs, MMOs, wargaming, etc.). How did you first get into gaming?"

Cassie: "When I was eight, I was in the hospital with appendicitis. They brought in a TV with a Nintendo 64 and MarioKart to make me feel better. It worked! So I got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas and I've never stopped playing." (Yes, that means she was born in 1989. And yes, we are all so old... -- Bigred)

Mkerr: "Okay, I can see how MarioKart would be fun when you are stuck in the hospital, but how did that lead to things like D&D and Warhammer 40,000?"

Cassie: "I played video games constantly through middle school and high school. When I was 15, a friend of mine was talking about something called 'Dungeons & Dragons'. I was curious, so I tagged along and rolled-up a rogue. I absolutely LOVED it! I still play D&D a lot -- including running my own campaign -- but I'm a bit of a Dark Heresy / Rogue Trader kick right now."

Here's a shot of Cassie at last week's Rogue Trader game. She's playing a Explorator (notice the autobot sticker on her Laptop? Yes, she's also into Transformers -- noticing the robot/zombie theme yet?).

"I picked the Explorator because I was tired my guns jamming in Dark Heresy"
(Click the image for for high resolution version: 3264 x 2448, 2.7 MB)

Mkerr: "I'm not sure how I would've reacted if you joined my D&D group when I was 15. I'm not even sure that I'd spoken to a real girl by that age -- and certainly not about my D&D campaign. How did the group react?"

Cassie: "Ha! It was me and five guys, so I don't think they too me seriously at first. But I kept coming back and kept getting more and more into the game. I love rogues. I really love rogues -- there's something appealing to me about being able to kill (and loot) anything that moves. I played in that campaign for three years."

Mkerr: "So it was D&D that caused the jump from tabletop RPGs to tabletop wargaming?"

Cassie: "No, not quite. Even though I was playing tabletop D&D regularly, I never stopped playing video games. I discovered Warhmmer through my World of Warcraft guild. I've always liked strategy video games over shooters, so they recommended Dawn of War. DoW got me hooked on the background -- which led to Dark Heresy and 40K."

Cassie's Rogue Trader ship is called the Spiritus Invictus (named after the ship's ghost field). She loved designing the ship, but secretly wishes they'd opted for Murder Servitors. (Murder Servitors rock! -- Bigred)

"I love tactical RPGs. I love combat, big numbers and looting. But I'm not much for the acting bit"
(Click the image for a high resolution version: 3264 x 2448, 2.7 MB)

Mkerr: "So what convinced you to make the leap from the computer screen to the gaming table?"

Cassie: "About a year ago, my friends Paul (from Paul's Basement League) and Alex, convinced me to drive six hours north to visit them and play games. Paul is a huge 40K player, so I spent a few days there learning about it. I loved the customization aspect of making an army, and the 40K universe. Such a rich background with endless possibilities. I went and bought my first Necrons that weekend."

Mkerr: "So how long have you been playing? And how often do you get to play?

Cassie: "I've been playing almost a year now -- not very long in the eyes of most gamers, I know. But I'm still young and I still love playing. I don't get to play as often as I'd like, but those are the dangers of being a college student."

Mkerr: "Once our readers get over the fact that you are a real girl and playing a game they love, they are going to have one question. Why Necrons?"

Cassie: "Ha-ha! I was playing Dawn of War before I played on the tabletop -- and in Dawn of War, Necrons are *amazing*. I love their look. I love their rule mechanics. And I love their fluff. And, personally, I think they can be competitive, if played right. Even though they don't have a lot of different options tactically, they have some amazingly tough units."

Mkerr: "So when you play, are you there for the social experience or to win?"

Cassie: "Like any gamer, I'm very competitive. I love to be good at what I do, and I like to be taken seriously as a player. But I also like hanging out, and I'm not some elitist jerk that can't accept a loss and just have fun."

Mkerr: "I notice that you have some nicely painted minis on your blog. What's your favorite part of the hobby -- painting or playing?"

Cassie: "That's a trick question. I say 'painting' I'll get written-off as one of those girls who just paints the minis and never uses them. If I say 'just playing' then I'd be lying because sometimes I buy minis just for painting and fun. I love playing - what's the use in spending $300 on an army and never using it - but I also like my army to look nice."

My interview with Cassie continues after the jump at where we about dating gamers, costumes and more! You'll find more pictures as well as links to Cassie's blog!

~So here's your chance guys! Cassie has been kind enough to agree to answer questions and respond to comments for this article. If you want to know what makes an honest-to-god-true-hardcore-gamer-girl tick, just ask!
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