One of our Patrons is Amir Rajan, one of the developers, together with Michael Townsend, behind A Dark Room. A Dark Room Review (Nintendo Switch). A Dark Room got our highest praise from Elena, who felt this was indeed a very special game, if only for its concept, as the entire game is text based.
Amir is a story teller at heart, so when we got chatting he mentioned his short story I’d give Anything, and told me he hoped we would all find our Violins. I think I have, as I will add to this article below the story. Enjoy!
I’d Give Anything
With violin in hand, she walks onto the small fold out stage.
Not a walk of confidence, but of humility. Her steps echo through the cafeteria, crisp and hollow.
“Another poorly constructed room,” she says to herself, as she thinks back to her high school orchestra playing at the Meyerson.
She still remembers her teacher give his “wait for it” smirk. She remembers him telling everyone to play the first note of measure thirty. She still remembers the pure joy she felt as the sound from every instrument filled the air, merging with one another as they bounced off the walls, then making their way back to the stage, carrying a life changing message:
“This is what you created.”
This “hall” was definitely not like that.
People start filing in as she tunes her violin. They all wear excited smiles, but not for her. They smile because of the “on the clock” break they were getting, eyes widening as they look at the cheese spread the company has laid out.
Holiday gigs paid well and the requirements were always the same:
“We’re holding a company event to show appreciation for our employees. We need a violinist to play some live holiday music during the celebration. A recorded piano accompaniment will be provided. Business casual attire will be required for this event.”
Playing an hour for half a grand was a great paycheck. She went through the provided playlist which contained upbeat songs like Jingle Bell Rocks and Here Comes Santa Claus.
“Just have to do this last corporate function, then I can skirt by for the next few months without working,” she thinks to herself.
With her fingers and bowing on autopilot, she counts all the ill fitting dress shirts the men wear. The backs of their muffin tops wrinkled and creased from sitting in a chair all day. She imagines an alien visiting Earth for the first time, standing beside her.
“So let me make sure I understand this, human. When a male of your species enters thisbuilding, he is required to stuff his upper garment into his pants? And tightly wrap a piece of cloth around his neck?”
“And females have to do what?!”
The companies never noticed that she wore the same light gray cardigan, gray dress, light gray belt, and gray heels to every event. It was the only business casual attire she owned. Hair was easy, just tie it up in a nice tight bun. It looked elegant. She’d have her roommate apply her makeup. She’d skip polishing her nails though. They were always filed well past her calloused fingertips.
Only a few more minutes until the end of the event. This is when she’d always “sneak in” one of the pieces she composed. Her focus changes. Her eyes piercingly look down the violin’s neck and finger board. She listens to her own heartbeat – her living metronome – trying desperately to feel each phase of her heart’s cardiac cycle. Rosin dust lifts violently off the strings as she begins to play. She breathes it in.
Three minutes for five months of work. Her ten thousand dollar violin sings a bittersweet song of joy and resentment. She executes flawlessly. Silence fills the air, signaling to the employees to turn and clap, before going back to eating cheese and drinking wine.
Her roommate turns to her and playfully says:
“I’d give anything to play like you.”
Which always yields the same smirking response.
“No, you wouldn’t.”
Finding My Gaming Passion
Like I mentioned before, I think I have found my passion in life. Surely I told you before that I came into playing video games late in life. At 42 years old I discovered Animal Crossing Wild World because I helped my little girl play her newest game and became hooked myself. Sure, even before that I had experienced that gaming could be fun, but I was always the one looking on while my husband manned the controls. Meeting Tom Nook, getting pressured into paying him an insane amount of bells to live in a tiny house, and doing chores for the islanders convinced me that I needed my own DS Lite. The rest, as they say, is history. And aside from getting me into gaming, it led to wanting to chat about gaming non-stop, and LadiesGamers came to life as a result.
You see, talking about gaming in real life wasn’t as easy. I did meet like-minded people online, but my friends looked as me as though I had sprouted horns when I waxed enthusiastically about the shiny Pokémon I had managed to catch. And talking about it at work with my colleagues really was taking it a step too far. After all, I work at a large bank and somehow it didn’t feel very professional.
Making Myself Complete
Somewhere along the past 7 years that has changed. At one point I said to myself, why not be proud of the fact that even at 50+ years old I can embrace new things? On top of that, managing a website like this isn’t a simple chore you do on a rainy afternoon. It takes a lot of work, dedication and communication and management skills. As Paula can testify. We work on it together, and it keeps us busy.
All of this made me decide to take the leap and merge the video gaming side of myself with the professional side on LinkedIn, the social media platform for businesses. I’ve introduced myself into new work teams by proudly mentioning LadiesGamers and while most people just react by saying: “well, looking at you I would never have thought you to be into gaming” (not sure how to take that one…) it did lead to some nice feedback too!
So, as Amir told us in his story: find that one thing your are passionate about, and don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t be proud of it!
I’m so glad to read your story! I’m 65 and had never played a computer game until the pandemic came along, and like so many people, I picked up Animal Crossing. For me, computer games give the feeling of little-kid fun, just playing for the sake of play, and not being productive in some way. And creating my imaginary worlds gives me a lot of pleasure.
I recently saw a post on Pinterest that showcased an 80 year old lady who streams her Skyrim sessions. I think it is a real tribute to the creativity of developers that so many diverse people enjoy their work.
Hi Blossom, first of all, thanks for reading my ramblings, and I’m glad my story connected with you. I couldn’t have put it better actually than you did: it’s so nice to game just for the sake of gaming. Not a chore, not something you do for someone else. Just being yourself and enjoying it. Plus, when I started out gaming I had no idea there were so many like-minded older ladies who had the same passion! In the past 15 years things have changed too, it’s become much more accepted then it was, which is great. Don’t stop playing and enjoying the fun! Like Grandma Shirly, who I think you saw online with Skyrim, we will just introduce gaming into the elderly home!