Ah, Mother's Day, that one pre-determined day of the year when we tell good ol' Mom how much we care. (I personally believe we don't give our mothers enough credit the other 364 days of the year, but that is a rant for another post.) I've spent this day in years past doing what everyone else does: Flowers. Cards. Brunch. Gold-painted macaroni sculptures. This year, though, I'm going to do something a little different.
Today, I'm going to tell the blogosphere exactly how incredible my mother is.
Over the last few months I have been slowly revealing to people that I am pursuing game design as a career. Once this has been said, many have asked me what boils down to the same question, "How does it feel, being a woman in a male-dominated industry like game development?" Often, I put on my trademark mischevious smirk, and say something cute like, "Not too shabby. It's fun to stand out without trying too hard." Then everyone laughs at my little quip and moves on. I don't do this to be flippant; quite the contrary. I say such things because, honestly, it never really occurred to me that being a woman had much to do with what I choose to do for a living. Why?
Well, because of my mother.
Chief Petty Officer Brenda P. Goldman (aka Mom) retired from the United States Navy with 20 years of service and more than a few commendations under her belt several years ago. She's done everything from training recruits in the art of field medicine to piecing back together the fallen during the Gulf War to creating sick hall protocols that are still in use by the Navy today, if my information is correct. In addition to all that, she raised two children, sent them both to college, took care of all three of my grandparents in their later years, managed to volunteer in the community, and maintain a happy marriage to a fellow enlisted person through thick and thin for 21 years. All the while, she was serving our country in a near-flawless fashion.
Plus, she makes one hell of a rum cake.
(You think Master Chief from Halo is a badass? Well, when he can pick the kids up from soccer practice, look smashing for a cocktail party at the Commadant's house AND save the Universe all at the same time, then we'll talk. Until then, he ain't got nothin' on Mom.)
In all my growing up years, never did my mother ever make a huge fuss about being a woman in the military. Not once. She never expected special treatment. She never complained about the guys being too rough on her. She dished it out just as good as she got it, too, whenever someone was stupid enough to imply that Mom was too weak or too stupid to do something because she was a woman. She didn't get in their face, she didn't complain to her superiors. No. . .she just got even, by being the best damn servicewoman around.
This is pretty much my mother's attitude towards everything. Women can do most anything that men can do, and vice versa. Other than some of the finer details, gender matters not. Men can be nurses, women can be fighter pilots, doesn't matter as long as they get the job done. Naturally, this world view made its way into my psyche. Due to this fact, it wasn't until I hit college that I found out exactly how "rare" female gamers are. People were shocked to find out that I, the girl with the penchant for musicals and mystery novels, was a gamer. It never occurred to me that my sex was supposed to automatically dictate my likes and dislikes.
From the day Dad brought home our shiny new Nintendo Entertainment System to the day my very own Playstation 2 was bestowed upon me, games have been a part of my life. Without thinking much of it, they have been a part of my mother's life, too. I remember staying up late with both her and Dad, playing Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros., then being shuffled off to bed so they could play alone. When I'd wake up in the middle of night to ask for a glass of water, sometimes I would catch her at a critical point in a level, but she'd pause the game and tend to her youngling, anyway. It's what good mothers do, after all, though I wonder how many times I inadvertently caused her untimely demise in-game. . .
Thinking back, it was all so very obvious. Mom played our GameBoy more than us kids did, Tetris and Yoshi's Cookie being her games of choice. She was the first to aquiesce to our pleas for a Super Nintendo, and later the Nintendo 64, after which she played through and beat Super Mario 64 before I had even finished reading the game pamphlet. We were the first kids in our neighborhood to get a GameBoy Color. (If nothing else, that was the first time in my childhood that I was undisputably cool. Thanks, Mom.)
When I got older, I logged on to our family PC to do my history homework, when suddenly Warcraft: Orcs vs. Humans began its auto-run sequence and three hours later my homework still wasn't finished. I asked my brother why he'd left his game in the CD drive, only to have him inform me that said game belonged to our mother. Heck, my mother got a Wii a while ago and I still don't have one. It makes me proud and jealous, all at the same time, to tell people that my mother kicks butt at Zelda and Wii Bowling.
My mother is a "casual gamer," though not in the way the term is typically used. Rather than describing the genre of games one plays, it describes the demeanor of the player. In her patented unassuming manner, Mom has been a gamer for most of my life. She never brags about it, isn't ashamed of it. . .it's just something she does. The fact that she's a woman has nothing to do with it. She thinks video games are fun, and she plays them. End of story. No trash talking. No rabid newbie punting. No fuss. Just having fun.
It is for this reason I have been striving to be low-key about my gaming, as well as my transition from soapmaker to game designer. I haven't always succeeded in this endeavor, but no one is perfect. I have also eased up on the trash talking on Xbox Live, because we're all there to have fun. Making someone cry because I beat them during Free-For-All on Call of Duty 4 isn't going to make my experience more entertaining. (Besides, there are 12-year-olds that play that game. I really don't want someone else's mom to report me for teaching their kid new and interesting ways to say, "You suck.")
Anyway, here's to you, Mom. Thank you for inadvertently teaching me how to be a better gamer as well as a better person. May everyone have such a mother in their lives.
Happy Mother's Day. ^_^