Writer/Gamer Q&A: Maggie Sullivan

Maggie Sullivan’s “Ode to Oot“: three wonderfully lyrical, wonderfully searching pieces of non-fiction, existing both within the world of Hyrule, and all worlds, somehow simultaneously. Check those out, and then tune in below to her favorite games and thoughts on being a writer/gamer!

Maggie is a non-fiction MFA candidate at Columbia College Chicago. She’s been published in 3Elements Review and The Collapsar, and can be found on Twitter @magatharose.

Cartridge Lit: What games are you playing right now, if any?

Maggie Sullivan: Right now, I am still playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on my N64 as I continue to finish my larger project surrounding the game, but on the side, I’ve been playingPokemon X on 3DS (another series I grew up with trying to catch them all) and Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls on PS3.

CL: What was your first video game system? Did you love it or hate it or feel something completely different about it?

MS: I have two answers for this question. The first system I every purchased myself was a red Gameboy Pocket (first game = Pokemon Red). But, to me, a video game system was something you hooked up to your TV and it made a statement to your friends that said, “Yeah, I have a [insert gaming system here]. Be jealous.” So, with that in mind, my first “real” gaming system would then be my N64 (first game = The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), which, I am proud to say, is still in perfect condition sixteen years later (game and original controllers included).

CL: Care to list your top five games?

1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (go figure, right?).

2) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (again, go figure).

3) Pokemon (any from the series, because they just got better as you went, though I will say, I was more partial to the games that had a pokemon following you).

4) Skyrim (I get similar feelings playing this game as I do playing Zelda).

5) Super Smash Bros. on N64, because it’s a classic.

CL: How has your writing life interacted with your gamer life? Has one inspired or influenced the other?

MS: Honestly, until recently, they didn’t, and it was simply because I didn’t really think anyone would want to know my thoughts or feelings about they games they played, though I definitely wanted to write about the games that meant so much to me. It wasn’t until Fall 2013 when I took a Fragmented Essay course and was introduced to Brian Oliu’s piece Contra. It brought two things I really loved together in a blissful union: Creative Nonfiction and Games. It was the spark that has led to my all out summer project about Zelda and I have so many more projects on the docket once I get my thesis done. Now, I simply don’t see myself being able to keep the two separate anymore now that I’ve gotten started intertwining the parallels I see in games and my own life.

CL: Any tips for how others out there can balance a writer’s life and a gamer’s life?

MS: My answer is twofold. One: Don’t be afraid to geek out about games on the page. That was the main reason I didn’t write about games sooner (as I mentioned in the last question), but it was also because I didn’t have anything that remotely resembled what I wanted to do with writing about games. Once I found inspiration, everything bloomed with a natural fervor, so, two: find a piece that makes you incredibly envious and use that as fuel to put your own voice to your favorite game and own it.