The Evolution of a Female Gamer

Jen Sullivan
8 min readMar 12, 2021

When I was a kid, I was one of the very few girls who played video games. It wasn’t something that girls did back in the 1980s. Little girls were supposed to play with Barbies and baby dolls. They were supposed to play dress up and pretend to be wives and mothers, I guess in preparation for their adult lives. While I did play with my Barbies on occasion, usually with my cousins, I didn’t pretend Barbie was dating Ken or was always dressing up for parties. Barbie had real issues to deal with in her life. My Ken was often a murderer and Barbie had to solve the crime before the other Barbies were victims. Sometimes Barbie’s life was normal, but most of the time I preferred to play with Star Wars action figures, Legos, and Hot Wheels because there was more action to them. As the gaming industry began to develop, I started to shift to more video games. I was unknowingly laying the foundations of becoming a gamer.

I grew up with two younger brothers and my childhood best friend was a boy named Marc who lived nearby. Marc and I spent a lot of time playing with Star Wars action figures, trading Garbage Pail Kid cards, and watching movies like Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and, one of my favorites, The Goonies. When we weren’t playing outside, we were probably playing video games. In the early days, we had a ColecoVision with an Atari attachment. It was often a struggle to get games to work, and we didn’t have a big selection, but we enjoyed it when we could.

Years later, after the NES was release, Marc, my two brothers, and I would spend hours with video games, usually Mario or Zelda. Either we were playing or we were watching someone else play, cheering (or taunting) from the sidelines. Marc had a large game library and we would often borrow games from him. We still spent a lot of time outside, but on rainy days we had the NES to keep us entertained. After my parents divorced, I didn’t get to see Marc outside of school, and we eventually drifted apart as I stayed a gamer and he sold his video games to buy exercise equipment. I always joked that he needed to buff up to beat me in a fight. He always just laughed.

As the years went by, my brothers and I kept up with the new consoles for a while. When Sony first came out with their PlayStation, we didn’t buy one because we were loyal to Nintendo and Sega: I was the loyal Nintendo fan and my brother Dave was loyal to Sega. My brother Dan was in the middle, though he leaned more toward Nintendo because of Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart. Years later…

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Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, and a gardener, among many things. I enjoy writing as a way to share with others. You'll find no AI content here--I am a real writer.