I’m Elizabeth, and I’ve been a serious gamer all my life. I remember having the BBC Micro, desperately trying to get Star Wars to work… it never did. I was young and my knowledge of computers was limited, to say the least.
Then I got an Atari. How I loved Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle. I still recall dying repeatedly, every time I had to jump over the snakes, but persevering and overcoming the obstacle stayed with me much longer – my obsession with finishing games started then.
My next console was the Sega Megadrive – now this is when I really fell in love. You could even call it an obsession.
With the original PlayStation, my allegiances shifted to Sony and we fell in love. I continued our sordid relationship with the PS2, which I bought on release day, just like the PS1, same as the PS3, and more recently the PS4. My aspergers makes me feel like I have to.
I don’t just buy any old game, either. It has to be just right. It has to be something I’ve been following and reading about. I’ve played all the Grand Theft Auto games, as well as the Metal Gear Solid series and I’ll always buy them. The same goes for Call Of Duty, Battlefield and Resident Evil.
I feel compelled to buy them, even if it means forking out for a new console. I bought the Game Cube for a Resident Evil game. Never used it again. This is the downside to my aspergers and gaming, as I MUST have these things, and I’m not exactly rich. I have to keep them, too. No trade-ins for me.
I wasn’t diagnosed with aspergers until I was in my late 30s, so, in retrospect, I realise my obsession with gaming was quite normal for someone on the autism spectrum – we love to collect, and we love our obsessions. Looking back, aspergers has helped so much in my gaming. It hasn’t helped my bank, though. I have to buy all the accessories. I always have to have two controllers, as well as a camera peripheral.
On top of this, I have to maintain a certain amount of memory space on my console. Recently, while downloading a game, it stopped and gave me a warning message, I needed to delete games off my PS4 as I didn’t have enough space for the new game… I wasn’t happy.
Aspergers can be good for my hobby when it’s not bleeding me dry, or making me obsess over HDD space, however. I won’t stop playing a game until it’s finished. I’ll keep bashing my head against a wall, even if I’m stuck to the point of frustration. I believe I sometimes see solutions to problems people without Autism may not see, as I see the world differently, I see games differently.
Recently while playing Watch Dogs – another game I got on release day – I came across a heavily guarded compound. Instead of running in and shooting the place up, I hopped from camera to camera, without ever firing a shot, until I found my objective. I left as if I was never even there.
Over the next few days I realised, on twitter and YouTube, that others weren’t aware they could hack these places without shooting anyone, or even entering the area.
Some YouTubers I’m subscribed to would go so far then stop, thinking they couldn’t go any further, then they would start shooting the guards or knocking them out. I have friends who still can’t proceed without resorting to violence. I believe my aspergers helps when I get really stuck. I also have to pick up every easter egg developers leave – I must have all the trophies.
Despite the issues, I think aspergers gives me a gaming edge. I wouldn’t have it any other way.