The Love Story of My Soul
“When I was ten, I fell in love with video games. I didn’t know back in 2008, the way that the pitter-patter of my tiny feet into that PC room would change my life.”
Every summer as I was growing up, my father would take my brother and I to a sea resort town called Sunny Beach in Bulgaria. We spent our time there on the beach, swimming in the sea, playing football and fishing. I met my childhood friends there and the location still holds a dear place in my heart. It was there, with them, that I discovered Video Games. It was the beginning of the journey where I found out what I want to do with my life and it has been difficult for me.
The Hotel that we stayed at every year is called Bellevue, “the beautiful view” in French, and looking back on it now, it was never anything special. It was a regular four star hotel that, among other things, just so happened to have a PC room. I didn’t know back in 2008, the way that the pitter-patter of my tiny feet into that PC room would change my life. I followed all of my male friends into the room, looking around without knowing what was happening. I was eight. And yet, as my eyes glanced over the shoulder of one of the many adult men sitting in front of the screens, I found myself unable to pull away.
Beforehand, I had always viewed computers as something which my mother would stay up late to work on. I didn’t find them particularly likable machines, and would even say I purposefully stayed away from them.
“ It didn’t matter that I didn’t know how to use a mouse or keyboard, I just had to be a part of that world.”
So when in 2008, the second expansion of the most popular video game ever, World of Warcraft, called “The Burning Crusade”, had come out on the market, the world was shaken. As I found myself staring upon the beautiful world that seemed to live inside of this PC screen, so was I. I knew back then that I wanted to experience it. I wanted to try it. I had to try it. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know how to use a mouse or keyboard, I just had to be a part of that world. I remember that I ended up begging the owner of the computer room to help me create an e-mail and World of Warcraft account so I could play.
Obviously, I didn’t know what I was doing at that age. I was admiring the fantasy world that expanded around my character. I was mesmerized by the aesthetics, the fact that magic existed somewhere, that there were elves and orcs and trolls… It was all so surreal to the little girl in me.
Once the summer of 2008 had ended, my brother and I went back to school in Sofia, and we didn’t touch a PC until we went back to Sunny Beach in 2009. My friends from the year before were still there, and I remember how shocked we all were when we sat down at those same PCs and found that our favourite game had changed. Not for the worse, mind you. No. The second expansion of World of Warcraft, Wrath of The Lich King, had released over fall of 2008. I remember not being able to process the fact that the game was now different. That it had grown. It was like a person. Looking back on it, I was still much worse at playing than my brother and our friends. They all managed to bring their characters up to the most elite form of play- raiding, whereas I took my time gasping around at how mind-blowing the world of World of Warcraft was. I was that player who wanted to keep weaker items on my character because they looked prettier. My friends used to tease me about it and I admit, looking back on it now makes me laugh. Once summer ended, we all went back to school again.
The process was a repetitive cycle, and I found myself looking forward to summer more and more. The game made my childhood friends and I grow closer than I could ever imagine, to the extent that they are still my best friends to this day.
In 2010 I received my first laptop. Can you guess what my first line of business was? Yes, download World of Warcraft. Imagine my shock when I found out that I couldn’t. The game required people to be subscribed to the game in order to play it, and I didn’t have any money. I was 12! I was distraught. It was also the year that our little gamer crew and I picked up other games made by the same company that had made World of Warcraft. We found ourselves spending hours and hours on Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne and Starcraft.
“…I remember screaming at my screen…”
2010 was also the year when World of Warcraft’s third expansion, Cataclysm, was announced. I remember screaming at my screen as I laid my eyes on the mind-blowing cinematic and found out what I would be getting my hands on that summer, then calling over my brother and watching it again with him. And then several more times. I was hooked. Surely enough, when the summers of 2010 and 2011 came, my friends and I spent most of our time playing World of Warcraft again. That expansion I was the first one where I managed to reach maximum level with a character, a frost mage. I still wasn’t really good at the game, unfortunately. That fact didn’t change for a really long time.
In 2012, however, the PC room was taken over by a different owner, who had deleted World of Warcraft from the computers there. I was distraught. I didn’t know what to do. Little did I know back then that the gamer inside of me had already grown to become an essential part of who I am now.
As my friends pulled me down in front of one of the computers in the room a couple of days after, I found that I don’t have any problems picking up other games. League of Legends became the new go-to franchise that I found myself sucked into alongside my childhood friends. It was, unlike World of Warcraft, a free game, which meant that when I went back home to school, I could download it and play it on my laptop.
I didn’t feel at home at my middle school, so I ended up making friends online. I still talk to most of them to this day and find it incredible how many social qualities I developed over something which my parents didn’t regard too well.
My mother wasn’t happy when my brother and I picked up the Video Game hobby and I can’t say I blame her. She perceived them as a “waste of time,” and I remember as we grew into our teenage years, we both lied to her about the amount of time we spent playing. I regret lying to her. I don’t regret playing the games however. They made me a happy child, they helped me keep in contact with my childhood friends and forge a strong connection with my brother which lasts to this day. I’m currently in China and he’s in Singapore, and he still invites me to play with him and his friends so we can spend some time together.
It was hard for me to decide to decide to pursue Video Games when my mother didn’t approve of them. I was scared I was going to disappoint the woman who had invested so much of her money, time and love into giving me the best upbringing she could afford. I knew that some part of her wanted me to take over her business and her PR agency, and I could definitely still see myself doing that in the future. I still can, but there was always that creative part of my soul, that drove me to want something more.
Thus, when the Interactive Media Business was announced in 2018 as an available major within my university I found myself orienting towards it. As quoted on the New York University website, it is a “major is where innovation + business meets through emerging media technology. It teaches how innovative ideas combine with technology, creativity and business principles to yield viable products, services, and experiences.” I jumped on the bandwagon energy around it and have not regretted it since.
During the summer of 2019, around the glass table in our house, I finally told my mother that my heart was in the industry that made me so happy- video games. I am fortunate enough to have her as my parent, because after a minute of silence, she accepted it, and actually secretly begun doing her own research on the video game business. “I always thought that your brother played more than you,” she commented curiously to me the week after we had our talk. I sat down next to her as she was having breakfast. “I think there are two type of gamers in the world. Those that game competitively, and those that play because they love the experience.” I responded, surprising myself at the observation I had made. It was the truth. Our talks about the field quickly became one of my favourite past-time activities. When she asked me about how the finances worked within the industry, I ended up being able to explain to her with ease. I found myself surprised at how much I had picked up from just reading articles online or watching videos on Youtube about the way the industry functioned. We then grew closer as we had (and still have) a lot of interesting conversations on Video Games, and it really warms my heart how much she supports me.
Sitting down and looking back at all of this, these past 11 years of my life, I find that I want to someday create a company for video games that makes people as happy as I was. That makes them feel welcome and gives those with harder lives at school a chance to break away from that a little bit. I want to help create beautiful worlds which feel like magic and write stories that build on them and make them grow. It sounds cheesy, but these are the most raw feeling that I have when it comes to Video Games. So I wish to pursue them. I want to and aim to find a job in the industry and learn from the greatest there.
(Figure 1) Project 360Q, June 2017 “3D Hotel Bellevue. Bulgaria, Sunny Beach / 2017 Project 360Q” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GoMV9HHEMA
(Figure 2) Monika Yosifova “A recreation of what I saw that day in 2008”, World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment, by Monika Yosifova, 2019
(Figure 3) Monika Yosifova, “My love my lovely mother and I,” taken August 2018