Writer/Gamer Q&A: Tasha Coryell
Our next Writer/Gamer Q&A is with Tasha Coryell, whose novel we excerpted a few weeks ago: “This Isn’t Really About Fishing.” Who says that the term “gamer” can’t include those who specialize in Alabama football and flip cup?
Cartridge Lit: What games are you playing right now, if any?
Tasha Coryell: I’ve only ever finished two video games in my life, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2. I liked the familiar artifice of Disney and I could beat the game through button mashing and wandering around confused. I also played several rounds of Halo and Grand Theft Auto with my first boyfriend when I was fifteen. He was a pretty shitty boyfriend. We never kissed. I watched him play a lot of video games and I started having nightmares that driving a real car was like driving a car in Grand Theft Auto. It’s not. When I played Halo I always tried to find someplace to hide because I had no aim and as soon as I tried to shoot at someone they would shoot at me and I would die. I wanted to be the type of girlfriend who could play video games with their boyfriend. I thought that would make me very cool and desirable. Several months into our relationship, my boyfriend figured out that I didn’t like playing video games and asked me what I liked to do. I told him I didn’t know. I thought if I liked the things he liked, then he would like me better. The interesting thing is that when someone is really into a game, they like the game more than anything in real life. I have neighbors in my building that are incessantly screaming over video games. I’ve never screamed over something that much. I’m perfectly satisfied with real life. I don’t pretend to like video games anymore. I don’t think I’ve played a video game in years. Sometimes I play solitaire on my computer.
Cartridge Lit: What was your first video game system? Did you love it or hate it or feel something completely different about it?
Coryell: My brother had a PlayStation 2, I think. Like me, he wasn’t too into video games, but sometimes he played sports games. He had this one game about bass fishing that would go, “Ready, FISH!” It drove me crazy. My brother was really good at the game and I wasn’t, something that was even more upsetting than the soundtrack as my brother is six years younger than I am. People wonder how influential video games are and I have to say that my brother is still an avid fisher and I am still annoyed by it. One time he told my dad that instead of college he was going to go to bass fishing school. I’ve never seen my dad so angry. I think my brother later convinced my dad to buy a PlayStation 3. I don’t know what a PlayStation 3 does. I don’t think anyone has ever used it. One time we watched a really good documentary about a leopard on it together.
Cartridge Lit: Most nostalgia-laden memory from your video game history?
Coryell: One time I drove two hours through rush hour traffic to get to a boyfriend’s house. I was sixteen or seventeen years old. We had only been dating a month or so and I was anxious to get to his house, as I was anxious about everything when I was sixteen. When I got there, he didn’t answer the door but it was unlocked. When I went into the basement I found my boyfriend playing a videogame, I think it was Shadow of Colossus. I tried to tell him about my drive, but he was intent on beating the Colossus. He kept climbing up it and falling down over and over again. I asked him to quit and he told me that he was “’almost done” and he would “beat it the next time.” I went into the bathroom and started crying. After what seemed like infinity, he found me in there and didn’t play a single videogame in my presence for the three years we had left in our relationship.
Cartridge Lit: Care to list your top five games?
- Alabama football
- Roll for shots
- Beer Pong
- Flip Cup
- Never have I ever
Cartridge Lit: How has your writing life interacted with your gamer life? Has one inspired or influenced the other?
Coryell: I took a flash fiction class with Chad Simpson when my senior year of college. I wrote a flash fiction piece titled “I hate video games.” A lot of the premise of that piece, essentially the notion that people would not actually like to do what they do in games in real life, turned into a big theme in my novel. It surprised me how influential gaming was to my novel. I think I have a lot of bitterness over people paying more attention to games than to me.
Gender is another issue that comes up a lot in video games, which is why they are so prevalent in my novel. It’s one of the few places where you get to become another person and yet a lot of people just seem to want to stay white men.
Cartridge Lit: Any tips for how others out there can balance a writer’s life and a gamer’s life?
Coryell: If you don’t play games, you have a lot of time for writing.
Cartridge Lit: What novel would you like to see turned into a game? What genre would it be? How would it play?
Coryell: I’ve been reading a lot of young adult literature recently. The Maze Runner series felt like a video game just reading it. There is a zombie-like infestation in the books though and I’m scared of zombies, so I would never play.
Cartridge Lit: If someone made a game about your life, what genre would it be? How would it play?
Coryell: Are there realist video games? That would be great. I compete in triathlons so there could be challenges like “Run very slowly” and “Binge eat after swimming.” You would lose life if you didn’t get in bed by nine pm. You would get social points for drinking, but lose life if you drink too much. No one would ever be able to play this game, because it would never be as good in real life as it is conceptually.