@OriginalOestrus is the brilliant host of the podcast The Deck Tease and an avid gamer girl.
Name: Erin Campbell
Screen name: “Oestrus.” If that’s taken, I’ll fall back on another “O” word that I found in the Dictionary of Difficult Words.
Avatar of choice: Right now, my Twitter avatar is an illustration of me that was created by Dave “Derfington” Lee for my birthday. I consider it a huge honor to be “Derfed,” so I’m proud to show that off and let it represent me!
Years gaming: Too many. I remember being a kid and my mom buying me the original Nintendo console, which came with Super Mario Brothers—and Duck Hunt with that little plastic gun. My friend Todd from down the street would bring over that pad that you could step on and use as a controller, and we would play Burger Time together. Fond memories!
How much time do you spend gaming in an average week? When the weather’s warm, I visit my LGS on Thursdays for free Win a Card events that they have. I try to make Friday Night Magic every week. That’s about eight hours a week right there. On average, I would say about ten to twelve hours a week.
Favorite male game character of all time: Vega, from Street Fighter 2. I remember playing that game and making it all the way to the part at which you had to face Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and then M. Bison and thinking how cool it was that Vega could climb on the walls of the cantina and jump on you. There were so many little rules of the game that he broke or boxes he didn’t fit into. He was a slightly feminine man. He had a weapon that you could break. He had a background that he could interact with and use to attack you. He was so vain, and his mask was kind of creepy, too. To me, he is just a memorable character from top to bottom.
Favorite female game character of all time: Celes from Final Fantasy 3. I thought her avatar was adorable in the game, and her runic ability was so unique. Whenever I play a Final Fantasy game, I tend to single out one character as my favorite. I give that character the best gear, I make sure that character gets healed first, and so on. Celes was it for me—the opera house scene, her backstory, the illustrations in the player’s guide, and so on. I even used “generalceles” as my username on Livejournal back in the day.
First gaming console you ever owned: Nintendo!
To what game have you been most addicted lately? Magic. No contest. I think about it all the time. I’m always dreaming about decks I could build or plays I could make. I don’t think it was this bad even when I played World of Warcraft, which is saying something.
What game have you played for the longest time, and what about it keeps you playing? It’s a tossup between Magic and World of Warcraft. I mean, if you count the total years that I have owned Magic cards and that I have been into Magic, Magic would win. But I spent so much of my childhood owning Magic cards and either not doing anything with them or not really doing what I would consider “playing,” if that makes any sense. For the six years I played World of Warcraft, I was playing it.
Magic keeps me interested and keeps me playing because of the social aspect first and foremost. I love the constant rotation of people that you are able to meet through going to events and traveling to different stores. After that, I love the world that the developers have created. The lore is always so fresh and so interesting that you can’t help but be sucked in. You want to play that card with the awesome art or you want to know who that person is who’s saying the flavor text on that other card. It’s incredibly immersive, and I love that about it!
What game did someone convince you to try that you just hated? Aion. It was a great-looking game, but at the time, I didn’t know that Korean-based MMOs had a reputation for being extremely grindy. I remember them giving you so little experience points during the week that they had to institute these double-XP weekends to make up for it. So, if you were lucky enough to have the weekend free and play, you could level up at a faster pace. Otherwise, it would take you forever to get ahead.
I didn’t like the fact that the PVP feature was always on, too. I enjoy PVP . . . if I have the choice and can go back to PVE when I want to. But having that as a way of life isn’t very fun for me. I also found the flying mechanic to be incredibly awkward. I could never stay afloat for long and kept crashing into things!
What game causes you to rage or tilt the most? Magic. It’s funny because people see how I tilt or they hear about it and they assume that I’m like that with every game—quite the opposite actually. Magic is the only game that I tilt over. I could be in a twenty-five-man raid in WoW and have a mage pull something and wipe the raid or have someone DPS the wrong add and cause me to heal more, and I’m fine with that. It doesn’t faze me. But seeing someone play Burning-Tree Emissary into Burning-Tree Emissary into Burning-Tree Emissary on turn two just makes me eye-roll so hard. You have no idea!
Do you have any gamer regrets? Maybe it’s a misplay or a chance not taken. I regret not doing more with Magic when I was younger. Part of that was because when you’re in middle school, you don’t have all the money in the world to keep up with sets or to afford to travel to events. Hell, I didn’t even know what events were out there! I feel that there are lessons I have yet to learn—in terms of how to lose more gracefully or even how to play tighter—that I wish I could have learned then and that I didn’t have to learn now at age thirty. Sometimes, I feel that I missed my chance or that I’ll never learn those things.
Trash talk: mandatory or unnecessary? I wouldn’t say trash talk is mandatory, but to me, it does serve a purpose. For me, I like knowing my friends can hang. If I can sling a remark at you and you can fire one back just as quickly and have it be funny or original, I’m yours. I like that. I respect that. When it comes to my opponents, I tend to do it as a way to inject some humor into a situation that might otherwise cause me to tilt. Like, if I know I’m playing someone who is piloting Red Deck Wins, I might say with a smile, “Boy, your deck must be hard to pilot!” Because if I just sit there and take it, I’m going to stew, and I’m going to become angry, and I’m going to say something way worse. It’s not meant to throw my opponent off. It’s not a calculated strategy or anything. It’s what I do to keep my sanity.
Which one do you prefer? Video games, TCGs, or board games? I spent too much time being stuck behind a computer screen or a TV screen and really missing those social interactions that I feel can only come from playing a card game or a board game with a person or with several people. I’ve collected board games since I was a kid. I remember all the obscure ones, such as Clue: The Museum Caper, Ask Zandar, and Hero Quest. So my heart is always with board games first and foremost. Board games first, then card games.
If you could go pro in any game, what game would it be? Probably Magic, if only because I feel that having more female players—and specifically a transgender player—going pro would be so huge. I don’t think I could deal with the lifestyle and the stress of it all, but being able to make an impact like that is really attractive to me.
Whom do you consider one of the most sexually attractive characters (male or female) you have ever played? Was this based on pure artistic design of the character or overall character traits? Kano, from Mortal Kombat. I say this only because Trevor Goddard played him in the movie, and I remember being a sexually-confused teenager and squirming uncomfortably in my movie-theater seat when he came on the screen. The accent, the hairy chest, the swagger. I think I watched that scene with him and Sonya fighting a hundred times back then. Otherwise, I can’t say that a character in a video game has ever been attractive to me. But I can say that the representation of one was pretty sexy!
If you could be any character from any game, whom would you morph into? Mileena, from Mortal Kombat. I always she thought had the coolest Fatalities—being able to inhale a person and then spit out the bones . . . or chug a can of nails and then spit them back out at you with force. The outfit, the sai, the roll. Count me in!
Do you see an issue with the portrayal of women in games, and why? This is tough. I do feel that things could always be better in terms of how women are represented in gaming. However, I feel that when this topic comes up, it starts off with one person naming something he or she doesn’t like or wishes would change, and then someone else adds something, and then someone else, and it turns into this depressing spiral of sorts.
I think we have made a lot of progress and that women are blazing some serious trails out there, and I choose to think about that and focus on that before I get into what needs to change or what’s not so great. I think it’s a great time to be a lady gamer, and I try to do whatever I can to inspire more women to get out there and do what they love to do!
Describe what makes a central character in a story-driven game appealing to you. I like characters with flaws. I don’t like shiny, happy people. I like characters who make choices that aren’t always cut and dry, right and wrong. I enjoy playing characters that aren’t afraid to break the rules or to change the rules.
Ultimately, I want to feel that, when I’m looking at a central character screen, I can say to myself, “That character is me.” I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I would do that. If I’m watching a character do things and constantly thinking, “I wouldn’t do that,” or thinking about how I’m not able to understand or sympathize with the character, I tend to lose interest fast.
Have you ever cosplayed a character or could ever see your future self cosplaying a character? I haven’t, but I am determined to get to work on an Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch cosplay. My friends seem to think I’m ferocious enough to pull it off. What do you think? *pose*
Have you ever related to any characters from a game you have played? All the time. In fact, I can’t play a game if there’s nobody that I can relate to. There has to be someone, even if it’s a minor character in the lore. The first for me was Celes Chere. Being young and independent and coming off as sort of aloof or distant, but really being capable of doing the right thing and having a strong moral compass—I relate to all that.
If able to choose a gender during gameplay, which gender do you usually choose? Typically, I choose females, though my longest-running character in World of Warcraft started off as a Tauren male. I was “Ouranos” before I became “Oestrus.” If you Google the definition of “Oestrus,” it didn’t make much sense to be a male character with that name.
What book or series not already made into a game do you think would just kill it? I know it’s technically under development right now, but I think the World of Darkness MMORPG would be quite awesome—specifically the Vampire the Masquerade side of things. Have the clans work like classes and all of the Disciplines be abilities you could use.
The folks at White Wolf did such a phenomenal job with the lore and the creation of that setting that you could easily translate that to an MMO and even several expansions. I’m very sad to hear that it’s been shelved or put off for the time being.
How have your friends and family supported your gaming or tried to change it? All of my friends are gamers. Whether they enjoy board games or casual card games like Uno or Phase 10, they all enjoy gaming to some degree. My family is totally fine with it. They don’t necessarily understand a lot of it or what I do, but they support it. Some of the most entertaining conversations that I’ve had with my parents were around the dinner table when they would ask about how “the Vampires” are doing. That’s what they call the LARP troupe that I played Vampire with. “Did you kill the Prince like you wanted to, dear?” My mom was a trip.
Did your family ever have game nights? Do your parents like any type of games? We never had game nights, but I was always encouraged to play games and was given games that I could learn from. My mom likes to tell stories about how I was really young and would watch Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy with her and solve the puzzles or answer the questions before the people on TV did. She bought me Disney Trivial Pursuit when I was in fifth grade and would spend hours just asking me the questions on the cards. We wouldn’t even use the board or the pie pieces. She just wanted to see what I knew and would help me learn things that I didn’t know. It was wonderful.
Can you play games with your significant other or do you find it ends up being too competitive between you? I’ve come to realize through the years that I need to be with someone who is a gamer of some stripe. I don’t care if it’s Xbox or shooter games or fancy Euro games. People really do understand you better when you have that in common. With that said, I still find it very awkward to play against my boyfriends or to have to teach them new games. I’m fine playing with them, but not so much against them. Things become awkward fast!
Do you play any cellphone or Facebook games regularly? I do not!
What was your favorite game to play as a child? It can be any type of game, such as red rover, marbles, tag, or the like. I used to love fighting games, like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Battle Arena Toshiden. I would spend hours learning the combos and the finishing moves and then memorizing them. My friends never liked playing against me much because they would have to be looking at the instructions to know how to do the moves, and I could just rattle them off without looking.
What kind of impact do you think MMOs are having on society? Would you change anything? Maybe I’m biased, but I think they are making people more antisocial or they’re contributing to the lack of social skills that many people seem to have. The developers do amazing jobs of making these games so that there is always something to do. You have no reason to log off or do other things. Combine that with the impersonal nature of games like that—where you have things like the Dungeon Finder and LFR or the ability to say and do terrible things and not really face any consequences for it—and I think it does change people.
I hid behind a screen for six years, and when I did start playing Magic again, I realized that even I had to relearn certain social skills again. I couldn’t hide behind a push-to-talk key or behind a block or mute feature. I had to deal with the opponent in front of me. I had to look at these opponents—not past them or around them. It made me quite awkward, and I’m sure it does that for a lot of other people, too.
Do you believe there is a correlation between violence in videogames and violence in society? I do, but I don’t think it’s as big of a factor as people make it out to be. I think it’s far easier to blame the video games than to look at how the person was raised, what his or her home or school life was like, or if there were any other warning signs that something was amiss.
Once someone has been proven a habitual cheater, do you think he or she should be allowed back in professional gaming? I think, much like cheating in a relationship, people do it for different reasons. It’s rarely as simple as you doing it to hurt the other person or to hurt your opponent. People are doing it because they feel insecure and need to win to feel better about themselves—or they need to feel that thrill of doing something dangerous and getting away with it. I think if the person recognizes what led him or her to cheat in the first place and finds a way to deal with that in a way that doesn’t involve cheating, I’m all for it.
As someone who tilts, which is also seen as problematic behavior, I understand what it’s like to have more going on in your head than what people see. I understanding doing things you’re not proud of while either not knowing how to stop or not knowing how to channel that behavior correctly. I can sympathize with that.
Can you rank what you would consider the top five games you have ever played? These are just from my experience and in terms of how each game has impacted my life overall.
- Magic: The Gathering
- World of Warcraft
- Vampire: The Masquerade
- Final Fantasy 3
- Street Fighter 2