Allow Me To Introduce Myself
Hello, I’m Thomas Stacey-Holmes, also known around the gaming community as Enistachia. Being a gamer for me is more than just playing video games. Having spent the majority of my life with video games has secured them as a quintessential part of my present and imminent future. Enistachia has become a separate entity as I have used this username everywhere online throughout the years. The earliest memories of our adventures go back to the early 1980’s. With some of the strongest visuals coming from my interaction with the 2600 from ATARI! The plastic matte texture of the console with the straight-line ridges, those interesting joysticks that were a blast to play with, and that colourful sticker really made the console pop!
Being a child of the 80s, renting cartridges from Rainbow Video was the thing to do. Games such as Ladybug & Strawberry Shortcake: Musical Match-Up were some of the only games that were available to rent. It was very common for the popular games to be always rented-out. Back then it was much more economical for parents to rent the software, rather than going out and paying full price for a new cartridge. Video games and consoles were set at prohibitive pricing in the earlier days of retail games, and video store owners were apprehensive at first to get multiple copies on shelves. Oftentimes, within my family of modest means, we just owned the console and a handful of games. Renting the games ensured that you didn’t waste your money up-front, but sometimes renting lead to paying more for the game than it was actually worth. Especially if you have to continually rent it because, like me, you are a really unskilled player. I can remember not really understanding what I was doing in ATARI games; the concept of a point system for this child was not explained as it should have been in many of these older games. However, some of the first games I was actually interested in as a child games which strictly involved point-based systems: Space Invaders, Tank, and Centipede. It really did set me on a certain path being introduced to the world of video gaming so young by my child-like father and his younger brother who had almost every ATARI game.
Shortly after my first video game encounter I began to live vicariously through my brother, who got to own the next big console during that prime era in video gaming antiquity: the Nintendo Entertainment System. These games were so colourful in comparison to the ATARI, and had such cutting edge graphics; at least to a 7-year-old of the time. The first time holding those easy-to-maneuver game paddles and the Light Zapper has been forever etched into the fabric of my psyche. The NES was around during my most impressionable years, those crucial years in a toddler’s life (5-7). Super Mario Bros. just happened to be an amazing babysitter at the time. On days that my brother was away, or I was able to convince him to keep the system at home. I eventually got some one-on-one time with the console, taking to Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt, but never really doing well at either. After playing what felt like years of Super Mario Bros., and hearing all the rumors about the sequels in a foreign land called Nippon. My extended family, introduced me to imported games and these double cartridges that could hold hundreds of NES games from Japan. At the time I didn’t really understand how or why these types of games existed, but as a child I just enjoyed the uniqueness of the experience.
Playing As Princess
When the novelty started to wear off and I had my fill of the first Mario Bros., Nintendo threw us players a unique sequel that would forever change the way I felt about myself and the world. Was it the way she looked? Or the way she could float across the screen for a short period of time? Whatever it was, it was something important to the future of my existence in this reality we share. And as the years went on I would reserve my game time to playing as Princess Toadstool and beginning my ongoing quest to find a GameGenie code to have her playable in the first and third installments of the Super Mario Bros. franchise. But that dream hack would never come to fruition, with the only cheat close enough one that would make half of the character appear, but it just wasn’t enough to satisfy my need to feel more included in the video game community. Being able to play as a female character, especially in a Super Mario Bros. game was pivotal for me. I didn’t know quite then what it was but I knew I wasn’t one of the “boys” in this community. Media and experience would eventually explain me the rest to me.
This is where my past in video games goes deep into the mainstream, fully fueled by cereal, commercialism, and magazines which told me what games to buy. My magazines of choice were EGM, Nintendo Power, and GamePro. We couldn’t afford every game and peripheral, but getting a magazine each month helped to ease some of my cravings. I continued renting games, now from the local Video 99 store that had snuffed out the competition. The SNES established the foundation on which all my gaming structure would build upon. Growing up in the 1990s and having the burden of a secret identity also shaped how I had to hold myself in the gaming communities I had chosen, all too quickly showing me that I didn’t really have a place in the fold. I became an observer for the most part, as the environment around me was leading me in a specific direction regardless of how gaming communities presented themselves to me. With all matters considered during the time, the video game community was actually the best suited for my situation: I’m also LGBTQ2.
When broken down the letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two-Spirited. Most times you’ll see this acronym represented as just LGBT. Sometimes you may also see an “A” tacked to the end of any of the letter combinations, which represents our heterosexual or straight allies. They often will stand in allegiance with us, our causes, and beliefs, to see a more equal society
So now let me get down to this new adventure in the pursuit of personal growth within myself, my decision to share it with the world, and where you all come into play. Finding myself in need of an outlet I was drawn to Scholarly Gamers, with its more thoughtful writers and their analytic approach to gaming. How each member of the SG brings their own unique focus and experience to the table, with features breaking down the finer details of gaming and finding more than just its psychological reward system designed to keep unaware collectors hooked mindlessly to one game. In my mind, this was the website for the thinkers as well as the collectors, looking at what gaming has evolved into and what we’re moving towards.
In The Know
Video games have become immersive experiences; a vast library of new worlds to explore around every corner. I believe that video games need to be accessible to everyone with the ability to play, and need to demonstrate tolerance, acceptance, and especially equality within the community. My experiences in the past hadn’t really prepared me for the attention-seeking players in the online gaming community, who often express themselves in a very negative way in regards to LGBTQ2 players. Maybe it’s machismo? LGBTQ2 players that choose to be open in these communities often expose themselves to abuse. I find the best way to combat this abuse is to take a quick step away from the conversation; I always tell myself to react in my head first. Think about what’s just been heard or read before you speak, type, or boot (we all know about the game-booters of the online gaming community.) Sometimes you can’t even just quit the game because some developers have now created punishments for those actions, even if you are just trying to escape hateful speech.
Ask yourself, “Do you really want to have this conversation?” A “Yes” answer will get you a potpourri of interactions, from inquisitiveness to confusion, and quite possibly vulgar slurs about your situation. A “No” answer generally means you respect yourself enough and you don’t worry about what others say, do, or behave. As with life, the video game community is predominantly a straight community, with the majority of the community members being male. Straight people experience life through a heterosexual bias, known as heterocentrism. Forgive me if any of this comes across as frustration, but it is difficult to feel like you are only 10% of the 100% that is the community around you everyday. It’s not often you have a window of normalcy where you can be completely yourself. I hope to change that with information, knowledge, and a huge magic mirror that will show what brings us together and not what divides us. We all share that common interest in video games that has stuck with us this far, so why not broaden your horizons with knowledge and acceptance (which I’m sure most people already have)? I would like to add some more glitter to my cause.
Let me jump ahead. Past the GameBoys, the N64, the GameCube, and the first two PlayStations, as the PS3 is where my real introduction to the video game community became a little spicier with the advancement of online gaming. With the limited selection of games with these new multiplayer feature on the GameCube and PS2 consoles, I was not exposed to online gaming before the PS3, and the PlayStation 3 was the first time I was truly around the online gaming community. Things were not that good for me and the other LGBTQ2 members at the time, as we were still not part of the mainstream ideals, but outlooks have really begun to change in favor of equality over past decade. I for one have been watching the tolerance line bend towards complete acceptance in all avenues of entertainment for the LGBTQ2 community. We’re here, we’re queer, and you’re used to it… Almost.
With the future of gaming in full swing in 2006, I didn’t totally understand why I was getting such negative attention and reactions to my genuine openness surrounding my homosexuality; personality traits that would give me away in the community as gay. As the moments passed I learned from them and became more creative in the ways I expressed my proud standing as a gay gamer, by becoming more tolerant to the offensive nature of some of the loudest members. It was a struggle but I tried to not let all the negative aspects of these experiences cast shade on my being so fabulous! DC Universe Online and PlayStation Home became the playgrounds for my personal creative desires. I would only play DCUO for the first year of launch until I was drawn in by the social drama of PlayStation Home (PSH), and being able to dress my own avatar communicate with my fellow gamers. It quickly became alarming how many users felt the need to air out their racism and intolerance to anyone in proximity in this venue. Strangely to that effect, when someone from other “minority groups” would speak up in defense, it seemed that they would be met with a load of chat spam, or through targeted disruption of the online experience (frozen screens, crash of the system, server resets, and ways just to silence anyone with the nerve to stand against them). I continued to learn so much about the global community and not just PlayStation Network users; many PSH users were multi-console players and they relied on PSH as a social interface and a way of communication.
Our Adventure Starts Now
This movement in acceptance of the LGBT community has transcended through mainstream media and into all avenues of life, in politics and the most important aspects that shape how we live and govern ourselves, expanding to the world abroad through equal rights campaigns. I have always willingly lived my life as an observer, having my adventures though my consoles, and through digital graphics. I look forward to sharing both the new moments with you as I continue to explore what it means to be part of the LGBT gaming community, along with my extensive back catalogue of exposure to greater universe of gaming.
Author: Thomas Stacey-Holmes
Cultural Connoisseur for the LGBTQ2 gaming community with a strong belief that it’s okay to be who you are no matter what, and that others will react how they may. A proud console player who sometimes dabbles in digital art, novel writing, and protection spells. I tend to observe life through the lens of my PC monitor … However, I do enjoy long walks in nature.