While one of the youngest featured in Women Gamers Week, Liz Bolinger already posts a deep gaming resume. In addition to being the former president of the International Video Game Hall of Fame, Liz has also been a driving force behind several gaming events over the past three years, including GameDay and the Grassroots Gaming Expo and appeared in the 2011 Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition.
For the 24-year-old Iowa native, it all starts with her earliest childhood memories.
“I had to of been only a year or two old when I first played a video game and I loved every minute of it,” Bolinger said. “My dad always loved technology and especially computers. My earliest memories are of watching him play video games and him playing them with me.”
In addition to her early childhood memories, Liz states that gaming can provide a look into the people who play them.
“Forme, gaming has always been a way of exploring new worlds, ideas, and skills with people I care about,” she said. “Gaming can be an escape from the world around us, but more often than not, my friends, family and I use it to challenge ourselves and even to be able to visually see how each of us work through stuff. I find it fascinating to see how people react to games. Seeing how different people interact with video games gives you a window into understanding how people work and ultimately to how we can move forward through life.”
An understanding of the surprise hit Nintendo Wii title Just Dance landed Liz in the 2011 Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition, an annual publication she is expected to return to in 2012.
“For me, it was a surreal moment,” she recalled. “Growing up, I had watched all these amazing people performing amazing feats that would lead to them becoming Guinness World Record Holders on the TV show that ran for a little while. When I got my book in the mail and looked at the page I was listed on, I remembered me as a little kid and how I felt back then. I had accomplished that goal I had as a kid.”
Despite being able to reach her gaming goals, Bolinger states she has been unable to figure out some of the behaviors she’s seen toward women in the gaming community.
“I see some gamers that don’t look twice when a girl is playing a video game. I’ve seen others that are either rude, disrespectful or even mean to women. I don’t understand that mentality,” Liz said. “I’ve played just about any type of game you can think of and I liked them all. So when I hear people tell me, ‘you can’t play Call of Duty, you’re a girl’ or that I need to leave the game because I’m a girl, that behavior itself seems unnatural to me. I’ve never been babied when playing games because I’m a girl, because either other people I’ve played with never felt the need to or quickly learned if they did, I’d completely stomp them.”
Going forward, Bolinger stated that she hopes to see the public perceptions toward all gamers change for the better, and hopes to be one of the people who helps that happen.
“Video games are awesome,” she said. “They can be beneficial to all of us, whether used to learn things, strengthen skills, bridge gaps, meet new people, build relationships or even to find something to feel proud of yourself for. I know that every day I choose to be the person to inspire and encourage others, and I hope that more people choose that path as well.”
This article is one in a series of articles for PatrickScottPatterson.com’s Women Gamers Week. Be sure to subscribe to see them all.