Save Points #1

Suggested soundtrack: Chrono Trigger OST

Video games have come a great long way since Pong and Frogger. Frankly, I’m way too young for those to have been formative experiences for me. My childhood was filled with Duck Hunt, Super Mario, Sonic, and GeoSafari. Then came Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania, and Math Blaster. What I’m saying is that my brother got all the cool games and my dad made me play the “educational” ones because video games weren’t for girls.

I continued shadowing my brother, fostering a love for RPGs and fighting games. I snuck into arcades to fleece fifth graders at Street Fighter and Hydro Thunder while clandestinely replaying Killer Instinct, Joe & Mac, and Yoshi’s Island in the wee hours when my dad got his beauty rest. My mom would reward my insomnia with popsicles and understanding.

My brother got really into DDR once he got a PlayStation 2, so I did, too. My friend had a Nintendo 64 and taught me how to own in GoldenEye 007. I slept with my Gameboy Color and hoarded game cartridges like a TERF does bad takes on Feminism. My parents took me to Europe and I played Golden Sun on my brother’s hand-me-down Game Boy Advance while listening to Men At Work on my Sony CD player.

A lifetime passed. I gave up fighting games because the Smash community is, shall we say, not a fan of femme-aligned rivals — especially when they win. I stopped hoarding demo discs and started getting things secondhand. Drakenguard scarred me for life while God of War was anger management.

I built my first PC in 2013. I had just graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, proud of having studied with Kevin Prufer and Martha Serpas, as well as calling Tony Hoagland a dick to his face

I discovered a new world of online gaming and started modding for streamers on Twitch. I met some lifelong friends on League of Legends; strangers things have happened I suppose. I lost weeks in XCOM, TellTale games, and Guild Wars 2. I wrote poems that ended up having titles like “Amplitude” and “Metal Gear Solid” without meaning to. But was I a gamer? Am I one now?

I play games. All kinds. I love them. I want to share those experiences with people. I want to transmute the magic in the art design, distill the horror of a darkened hallway, and elucidate the edges of an unfinished narrative.

This is Save Points: a new video game column where poetry, pop culture, and personal stories collide. We’ll talk about soundtracks that changed lives, characters we love to hate, and experiences that shaped us forever. We’ll talk about communities that kept us alive and individuals who made us feel small.

We’ll create a space for ourselves here.

Juliet Childers graduated from University of Houston and writes for a number of outlets including TheGamer and After a long hiatus from poetry, she is breaking back into the industry with renewed fervor and unflinching identity. She loves video games, South Korean dog Instagrams, and the occasional Dr. Pepper. 

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