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Apr
24
2015

Zero to 360: Being a Game Reviewer’s Wife, and Then Some

Nicole-GTAO

“Ding, dong”, the door bell is ringing yet again this week and that only means one thing, an early review copy has arrived. It’s basically Christmas every Tuesday in this house. And in this industry there are restrictions, or embargoes as they’re called, that prevents anyone from talking about the game before release. They also come with deadlines. These deadlines require a fast turn around with not being able to enjoy the full extent of game until after the review is out. It didn’t use to be this way, but this how it has been through the last 4 years of being a game reviewer’s wife.

I grew up in a household where we didn’t have a gaming console in our house. We had a basic Macintosh computer in 1994 with two games. Yes two games, both educational. Our only option was to go to a friend’s house that maybe had a system to play on. My first experience was with the Nintendo 64 and playing Mario Kart. It was fun, exciting, and something different. It wasn’t until I moved away to college that my brother, 15 at the time, received a PlayStation 2 as a gift. From that point on, my parents didn’t look at gaming as a bad thing, they saw the togetherness it has brought to the family.

Back in 2005, I was introduced to gaming in the HD era. My husband has been gaming for quite some time started to include me in the hype of everything at that time. When we first got married he had a PC, PlayStation 2 and a GameCube. He then consulted me to trade-in the PS2 and GameCube for an Xbox 360. This was the first in a very long line of decision making we have done together towards upgrades with the PC or consoles. Why did he include me? Simple, he wanted to start getting me into gaming, plus he wanted me to see the high quality of entertainment that the next generation would provide.

Flash forward to 2011 and the launch of Saving Content. By now we have gotten a PlayStation 3 and I am more into playing games that I enjoy. With being a reviewer there are certain aspects that are required when first playing a game, so this can be very time consuming. From the beginning Scott has asked for my opinion on all the games he reviews, the “outsider’s perspective” you might say. Now back then the site was new, we had to buy all the games in order to review them. Going from just buying the games for just enjoying them to buying the games to review had a learning curve. By this I mean he is already halfway through the game before I even have a chance to see any of it, besides that of initial trailers or previews. That was until L.A. Noire came out; I had finally found the game that immersed me into a game world. This was really my first real hands-on experience with a game that I enjoyed. We have had the Xbox 360 with Kinect which was easy to use, and a Wii which I did not find so user friendly. Overall, I found my love with L.A. Noire and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes on PlayStation 3 that I spent hours upon hours with.

At this point, a majority of our lives revolve around games: which ones were coming out, which ones he was reviewing, which ones I wanted to play, and so on. Those early years of the site was Scott trying to balance out gaming time vs family time vs me time was not easy, and took on a toll on us as we adjusted to it. Not to mention anything financially impacting of buying the games. In June 2012, we drove down to Los Angeles for Scott’s first E3, as a contributor for TRMK. This was amazing knowing he had an opportunity to meet new friends and contacts, but to also be there and experience everything that is E3. I couldn’t go, ticket prices were, and are out of this world expensive (it is $1000 for all three days of the event). Of course I wanted to go, first so I could help my husband, because I knew he would be super busy with not only this site but with having to do other things for another site. Second, who wouldn’t want to go? Now, a word of caution, it’s not all fun and games being a writer, there is little to no time to do anything else during that week. For someone who contributes during that time, it’s hard work. I just wanted to help take a load off. So I did the best I could by making sure there was food for him, and every device was staying charged.

Now here we are 3 years later. The site has been through some changes, and now is back to being on the rise again. Those review copies are now coming from PR instead of our bank account. I am just as excited to wait for a game to arrive as he is. Things have changed now where I didn’t care about trailers or any of that before. Now he tells me one is out, and we watch it together then talk about how excited we might be to play it. We will watch a Giant Bomb Quick Look together, where I am enjoying everything I am watching.  It’s fun to also see how other gaming families are growing and evolving just as ours is.

This year the website will making its first run at E3 and we are excited to go back. I am very lucky to be able to experience the love of games from a fellow gamer who is respected. Though, being a female with an opinion in this world is taken harshly, so being married to a reviewer we get all the confidence we need to ignore those bullies. The most recent example of this is: I was playing GTA Online on PC (on Scott’s Steam account) as my newly created character, shown above. I was playing one of my favorite races with 5 other people and won. Immediately I was called a “bitch”, a “slut” and a “whore”, then told me that I agreed with his comments when I liked the race. These days, as a woman you expect to be treated equal but yet those comments didn’t surprise me. I could have easily put on a headset or typed something back to call him out on his words, but stopping down to his level is not for me.

My husband has been wanting me to write this for the last two years because he knows I have a different perspective on issues. Now I know what I am talking about, as he has taught me a lot about games. So as I sit back and manage to finish the daily objective for GTA Online on both the PS4 and the PC, I just think about what games mean to me and how I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. To be a full-time game reviewer takes a lot of work and effort, to be their wife takes a woman who can enjoy the same thing, but to also be patient and understanding of what this job demands. We are still on this awesome journey and overcoming the obstacles that we face as a couple.