How the Gaming Community Can Provide an Outlet to an ‘Outsider’

Here’s the truth: I’m scared. This fear is borne from a lack of cultural and individual identity, a haze of uncertainty within which my poetry is immersed. I often concede this fear to that of a common human need; that is, to belong. I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and raised in Plaisance, Guyana, right in front of the Atlantic Ocean until the age of 9. I then moved to East Orange, New Jersey, of the United States. Guyana, for most who aren’t aware, is just about 50 percent Black and 50 percent Indian. I fell somewhere in between as a small percentage of the Indian population include a mix of Portuguese blood. This mix obviously left me with a bit of a culturally ambiguous look on my face at most parties. East Orange was a tremendous culture shock for me; my introduction to the United States was in an Abbott school district that was predominantly Black and below the poverty line. All this is to say, I’ve had to learn things on the fly about cultures that I borrowed from throughout my life and retained little to none of what cultural identity I can call my own. Enter gaming.

One of the major keystones in my life is being introduced to the modern computer (I use this term loosely) when I arrived in the United States. While I gamed at the arcade in Guyana wasting untold amounts of money playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battletoads, I was christened as a gamer when I donned that Windows 3.11 PC that my uncle gave to me and my brother. This, however, was just the building block to an addiction that would wholly evolve throughout my formative years. Being a migrant with migrant parents, I obviously was not allowed to leave the house in this “strange land” that was my hood, so I ultimately withdrew into Destruction Derby and learning how to emulate GameBoy titles on my computer so that I could play Pokemon (both Red and Blue titles) on my computer while all of my friends traded Pokemon via their handhelds by day and I watched from the shadows with great envy.

What many would consider a secluded, sheltered and possibly unhealthy upbringing in gaming, I saw as both liberating and safe. Safe, in that I could ask the questions and work toward the answers for myself for the first time under the guise of gaming’s myopic lens.

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