It’s a question I get asked by most. And I really think the only way to justify it best is to start from the beginning.
I was born into the Sega Mega Drive era of the early 90’s (but probably started playing when the Playstation 1 and the Nintendo 64 came out). From a young age I was exposed to video games and it soon became a cultural part of my life. Every summer was spent playing Sega from as young as four. My earliest memories involve me watching with high enthusiasm my older cousins playing on their retro consoles. If you were to ask any family members today, they would probably tell you straight away that it was no secret that Estelle’s childhood was succumbed by an addiction for video games.
And that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
I was so fascinated, so obsessed, that often I was seen indoors with some form of game while all the other kids (cousins, friends, etc.) were outside playing the more energetic (and healthy) form like tag and backyard soccer. My mum was so worried about me becoming a recluse that she refused to buy me a console or handheld personally; the closest I got was a Tamagotchi. So, anytime a family member brought a console to play, Estelle would be on it. I was always jealous of other friends who had a Playstation 1, and I begged my parents for ages, to no avail.
Years of envying passed, and finally when I turned 12 and began high school, my parents bought me a Playstation 2.
Outdoors? I’m sorry, I’ve never heard of the word.
My fondest memory involves the first time my dad took me out shopping to buy my first game. He told me (I can’t believe I even remember this) to choose something quickly just so we could ‘test the console to see if it works’. Still, I wanted to make it worthwhile and get something good. However, I was so enthralled with all the great games I wanted to buy that I actually could decide on a single one. While browsing, dad came out from around the corner, game in hand.
“How about this?”
“Um dad, no. That game is too young for me.”
“What do you mean too young? It has Disney characters on it. You like Disney, don’t you?”
“Sure, I guess, but in a game?” (I didn’t know how to tell him I was interested in some action)
“Oh come on, if you are going to judge straight away, you will never know if you might like it.”
We bought the game.
That game turned out to be my favourite game of all time.
From then on every weekend was spent on the Playstation 2, owing to the fact that I kept my end of the bargain and and did all my homework during the week. Fair deal. And yes, I bet Kingdom Hearts on 100% with all side missions unlocked. The only thing I could probably say wasn’t so great was the fact that I went to an all-girls school and couldn’t really converse with anyone else about games; I have a LOT of memories of myself daydreaming while other girls talked about clothes, boys and the like. So it was really a personal enjoyment. My dad, concerned about my study-to-play ratio, saw an advantage and decided to bargain with me; if I achieved straight A+’s in my exams, HE WOULD BUY ME THE NEW PLAYSTATION 3.
And accomplished. No really.
My dad and I set up a mutual agreement that I was going to earn more games and privileges with school grades. And it worked well. Really well. When my eyes weren’t staring at the health bar on the screen, they were deep down in the text books. When my fingers weren’t smashing the ‘X’ button on my controller, they were speed writing an essay under time limit. You could say it was a double life.
I had to decide at some point though as reality set in, that my love for games was going to have to become a side hobby if I were to obtain a good education, a decent future and a successful career. It was a sacrifice, but one that had to be made. I still enjoyed some good quality time on the Playstation 3, but they were rare occasions, and ones which usually involved hard earned breaks.
During my final years of high school, the teachers were asking us questions about what we wanted to do as a job or career, and I thought hard. I was good at Maths, enthusiastic at Business Management, hard-working at English, and absolutely adored Multimedia and Visual Communication and Design (I probably didn’t realise then that that may have had something to do with what I was doing in my spare time). I decided to go for the good old Graphic Designer, and started searching for tertiary courses.
It was during this time searching that I came upon the realisation that some universities offered courses in video game design. VIDEO GAME DESIGN?! I never knew such a thing existed. But then I felt stupid at the thought that SOMEONE had to have been making all those games I had been playing for years.
And then it all seemed so obvious.
I left high school with the high-flying 97.75 score that my dad had bargained for, and I think much of my family thought I was going to do Law, Science or Medicine. I’m not sure if it was to my parents’ dismay (if I asked them they would say ‘noooo nooo’ like supportive parents would), but in 2010 I enrolled into the Bachelor of Arts (Digital Art) which was later renamed to Bachelor of Design (Games).
Best decision I ever made.
If you are interested in seeing some of the fan art I drew as I daydreamed my way through high school, click here.