Thursday, August 23, 2012

INTERVIEW With DrNikki From Elite Girl Gamers

I had the wonderful privilege to interview Elite Girl Gamers founder Nikki M. Leduc aka DrNikki. The facebook fan page started more than a month ago and has skyrocketed with a great number in page likes and interactivity. I sat down with DrNikki to talk about her EGG and her history playing video games.

Hello DrNikki! Thank you so much for taking the time interview with us. Now, tell me a little about yourself and how you got into video games.
I’ve been gaming my whole life. When I was 5 years old, I had an NES, then the original gray and green screen Gameboy for Christmas,  and then a Sega Genesis the following Christmas. However, throughout my teens, I was more into hanging out with friends and games got put in the back burner. In my early twenties I got married and became pregnant and while I was sitting at home, my husband and friend were playing Modern Warfare 2 and I remembered asking them what is so great about it? I wondered how could someone sit there and play for so long. My husband was at work one day when I decided that I was going to show him that I can play well too. I played and I was awful but sitting there engulfed in this virtual world, I realized how much I missed this and was totally back into gaming. I wondered why I ever stopped playing video games, like what happened in that 5-7 year period time that I lost touch with it? And that was how I found and held on to this part of me that crawled out of my brief hiatus and I haven’t stopped gaming since. 

I really like the aspect of video games like Skyrim, where you can just play a game and be completely immersed and I am not thinking about money or making a car payment. I can just relax and go into this complete fantasy world that allows me to do whatever I want. I put my son to nap one time and started to play and what felt like only moments later he started crying. Looking at the time, three hours passed by and I’m like what the hell just happened? So, I believe Skyrim is the best game ever made. I mean people could beg to differ but any game that can make you lose track of all reality because of how complex and in-depth they are, is a great game in my book. You can go anywhere or do anything. You can pick up wild flowers all day! I can’t even fathom how much time and thought is devoted into these fantastic games like Skyrim

So you started playing First Person Shooters within the past couple of years and in the beginning you were completely inexperienced but now you’re always with the highest score. How did you go from noob to pro?
I just played. I played for hours and hours and hours, looked up tips online and went to WebPages, got the elite so I could get the DLC for everybody else. I put in the time. I really spent a good two years. It was a good year or two before I got to the point I wasn’t in the negative all the time. I started out on my first day I played on multiple then I went offline. All I could do was look at the ground and throw grenades. The last time I played it was only D-pads on the NES or Sega Genesis. We didn’t have six axis or two joysticks back then so it took me forever to get the hang of it; even controlling the guy coming from Nintendo days. So it def took me a while to get the controllers down and to know which button on the D-pad, grenade launcher, and how to go throw everything quick. It takes a lot of practice; it took me a lot of practice. I put in a lot of time into those games (Laughs).
You’re pretty good at Call of Duty, so when you get really high scores what are some reactions you get from fellow gamers?
Most of the time nothing; other times, if I’m in the lobby and I’m talking and going with the team, people ask “oh wow, DrNikki are you a girl?” and I’ll say no I am a man. Sometimes I say yes I am and they say wow your actually really good. I retort “what you expected me not to be because I’m a girl?” It’s like they are surprise in awe, and then if I’m the top and I’m a chic no one says anything everyone stays quiet. It shouldn’t be so shocking. And I get people who send hate mail on my page like “u are a sexist bigot because you call yourself a girl gamer. Why can’t we all just be gamers? You don’t see guys saying oh I have a penis I am a guy gamer.” And I say they don’t have to because the community is already run by guys. It’s not that I’m being sexist the page is for everybody. I am just proud to be a chic regardless if I’m a gamer or not: I am a mom, gamer, student and I am proud to be a girl. Why bash me because I am proud of my sex, Ya know? I get feedback both ways a lot of people that hate it and a lot of people that are looking for something like that because they lack the female camaraderie in video game community. Like, let’s just play together.

So in light of that community, tell me how you started Elite Girl Gamers? What compelled you to create the page?
I felt bad spamming all the people on my friend’s list. So, I said I am going to start a page. I’ll put up anything I want and if any of my friends want to see all the things I post can join my page. I’ll post my personal things. So then a week later I saw there was going to be a lot more people than just my friends. Out of the 1500 people only 35 are friends. So it was supposed to be for that and I really just wanted to find more chics to play with. I rarely came across another girl online or at least one with a mic I can interact with. I got my husband but none of my girlfriends in real life play video games. I mean we get drunk and play Tekken but that’s the extent of it. So, I was like alright I’ll start this page and see what happens and I got messages from girls like oh kewl you play COD add me on PSN. Now I have 25 girls and we can party up and play anytime. And it’s not for chics either it’s for anybody who wants to meet anybody to play games. If you are on Playstation 3 and none of your friends have it, then you can come to my page and find others to play the same games as you and just have a good time.
When I started the page, I got tons of messages from girls looking for other girls to play with in other genres. I got a bunch of messages from PC girls saying the online PC community is a lot more tolerant than COD or Battlefield. Yet, I had a lady tell me the other day she’s in her 40s and she plays Diablo III and she never seen another chic play and she asked me to help her. So, the goal of the page is to encourage men and women to play together nicely and to help create a female camaraderie. You can have fun trash talk but leave the personal out of it. Leave the immaturity out. It’s a space where anybody can find anybody to game and I really want to have a fun spirited battle. If you’re a jerk on my page you won’t get an invite. If you make mean spirited comments, you’re not a part of the community we are trying to create. This is a place for people to meet other people and to play.

How did you start doing weekly matches for the fan page?
 I was actually contacting by chick who play video games are sexy facebook page. When I first started the page I had 60 likes on it and a guy from that page asked me if I wanted to host a guys VS girls match on PS3. I thought it was a great idea and I did it once with them, but I keep doing it every week now on EGG. And someone said shouldn’t you try to unite guys and girls instead of having them play against each other, and if you ever played in these matches it’s so much fun. No matter whether we kick their asses or they kick ours, we not asking for anything special we just want to play together on a team full of girls or two teams of girls beating each other or battle of the sexes. It’s just so that girls can find more girls to play with and guys can find girls to play with.

What does the future of EGG look like? What do you hope to create pass the fanpage?
I want to build a website for EGG because all I have now is the wall and I can post things and ask people to respond and only a certain number of people at a certain time will see my post. I want different sections for PS3, XBOX360, steam, where people can go in and specifically meet other people they want to meet.  I hope to eventually have an actual website for it where there are categories for each game. So if you are on steam and you want to find a girl playing Diablo III you can see other girls who are online who have posted their information. It’s hard for communities like EGG to become prominent. The sheer numbers of gaming websites are huge and if you Google it would be close to a billion. It’s difficult for the little guy to get any recognition or take notice. It’s just hard because there are just so many gaming magazines, but I take it as a big demand. If there are that many websites, they are that many people interested in it.

What other obstacles you find yourself confronting when playing COD online?
I can’t stand when people blame other people for their own lack of performances (laughs). If I get into a lobby, and even if it has nothing to do with me being a girl, if everybody on the team is bashing everybody it’s whatever but then why name call? I understand it is competitive and you really want to win and that’s what keeps people from coming back but I mean it just seems so immature to verbally bash someone you don’t know anything about. Like, why are you insulting their mother? That’s something about online game that I really don’t like. Like why are you such a whiner? And then they attack you if you are a girl, like if I don’t have my mic on and if I change my gamer tag to something ya know genderless, I don’t get bothered at all. Soon as I go as DrNikki and my mic is on, I either get bashed or 8 million friend requests. Like have you ever seen a chic before?
Haha, right! It’s not like we’re aliens. However, do you get hate from people who don’t play the COD?
When people hate on COD, I understand its a little water down. All the complaints people have with COD; the bottom line is it’s still a good game if people took the time to get to know the game and how they were playing. Like, you really can change to specialist class and do so much. If you see people running around shooting, you sit back and relax. There is a lot of tactics that go into it. Games like Battlefield are more in-depth, COD is a best seller. Even when you talk about COD there are so many people that hate it and can’t stand it. It makes me wonder, why? I never played a game in my life that I hated. I played games that sucked or were good but why have hate for anything? For the little tiniest things, I wish people were more tolerant in general. 

So compared to videos games of the 80s until now what are some changes and how do you hope it will improve for female gamers?
Games themselves have come eons of miles down the road from graphics and plot wise. Zelda was a great game for its time. It had an awesome story, but games have come so far and now it’s not just a little kid’s toy. Now adults can enjoy it. My dad played video games. I remember him being like 45 years old playing Doom and dragging his lazy boy writing down passwords on paper plates. It’s come so far and it caters to everybody. Now, you can do anything with a video game, it appeals to such a wide range of people. While I was playing Skyrim, I was surprised to play a female character. Mostly there is not an option and if there is it is mostly dressed in a bathing suit with huge tits. I hope that changes.

Well, DrNikki I can’t thank you enough for this interview and the community you’re hoping to create where anybody can be themselves and just game. Are there any last words you like to say?
I know there are people who say don’t call yourself a girl gamer but I hope there are people who embraced their differences and still be fair and kind to one another regardless of it. If I want to call myself a Girl Gamer then there is no harm in that, I’m not hurting anyone. I’m proud to be a girl and also gamer. I do other things too. I wish people in general in the gaming industry were more tolerant.
But I’d say Stay Calm and Game Hard (Laughs). Most of the people on my page have been really nice. Not that I need anybody’s approval but I want to appeal to everyone, but that’s impossible. You can be Mother Teresa and still have haters. When I started the page I was so na├»ve and the way people conduct themselves online, I wish more people would stay positive instead going around trolling things and saying what you hate. Why not go around saying whose doing well or good? If you have nothing good to say about how someone plays a game or a person, than move along, don’t be a douche. You want a community; Stay Calm, Keep Gaming.

Many thanks to DrNikki and Elite Girl gamers for their contributions to creating a community that prides itself in bringing together gamers of all walks of life for the sole purpose of  enjoyable camaraderie. You can check out their facebook page here and check out their weekly Call of Duty matches posted on their facebook page and on Girl Gamer Vogue.

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