Her Campus Co-Founder Annie Wang Wants Women to Grab a Controller and Break the Stigma Around Gaming

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Her Campus Co-Founder, CPO, and Creative Director Annie Wang has somewhat of a rep around the office for being a notorious gamer. She’s donned Pac-Man earrings, hosts chic game nights at her Miami apartment, and advocates for women to break into the gaming space—whether that’s getting in front of a screen or behind the scenes. So when Her Campus partnered up with Xbox, I decided to pick her brain about how gaming has become a part of her regular self-care routine, how it influences her work with Her Campus’s design team, and why it’s time for men to step aside so women can grab ahold of a controller. Here, her telling, empowering interview on women and gaming.

Her Campus: Tell me what gaming is to you – when did you start gaming and why did you get into it?

Annie Wang: I have been gaming since my childhood—playing video games, board games, card games, and table games with my family all the time growing up. My family has always loved games as our preferred “family time” activity, and it’s still my favorite part of going home and visiting my family. In college and post-grad, I amassed quite the board game collection and loved hosting game nights with my friends. I married a fellow avid gamer, and continue to have close friends who also enjoy gaming, so now my husband and I play video games almost every night and keep in touch with our gaming friends this way.

Gaming was actually a big part of how I met my husband and became friends with him, and is ultimately still a big part of our relationship today. We started off playing Super Smash Bros. with mutual friends. In fact, I got my husband an Xbox One as one of my wedding presents for him!

HC: You’ve had a sentimental relationship with gaming since you were a child, then. What role does gaming play in your life now?

AW: Now, I lead a really busy life, but I still game regularly because it’s my favorite way to de-stress and easily keep in touch with friends in different cities who also like playing the same games as me. Currently we’re playing a lot of League of Legends, a PC game. I’d say I play games at least three or four nights a week on average.

HC: Do you prefer to play alone or do you use services like Xbox Live to engage with online communities?

AW: I love playing games with others! I’m not much of a solo gamer—except for iPhone games—and much prefer playing with my friends...whether that’s through hosting a boardgame night or, more often, playing online games with my friends.

HC: Tell me more about the friendships you’ve developed online and what these relationships mean to you.

AW: I am really close with my online gaming friends. With all of these friendships we started as friends “IRL” partly because we also share a lot of the same interests, including gaming, and we keep up with each other by playing online games together regularly. One of those friends is my go-to home away from home—AKA couch to crash on whenever I visit Boston. Another of these friends is a few years younger than me and almost like a little brother to my husband and me -- we visit each other really often.

HC: There’s this stigma that gaming is antisocial, but you clearly feel the opposite.

AW: I think games have a bad rep for turning people into antisocial loners, but I couldn’t disagree more! Because of all the online games out there, it’s easier than ever for me to keep in touch with my gaming friends, and I personally think it’s a more productive and social form of entertainment than say, watching a movie or TV show together, because when you play games together you’re constantly talking on voice chat, strategizing and working together as a team. And when the game is queuing up, we’re chatting about our days and what’s new in each other’s lives.

 

HC: I've heard mixed opinions about gaming being a safe space for women since there can be some toxic players out there. What’s your take on that?

AW: I have experienced both the positives and negatives of online gaming communities. I’ve been on the receiving end of toxicity, and it definitely sucks! But I’ve also found that a lot of people are just online to have a fun time, and I try to do my part in being encouraging to my teammates because at the end of the day it’s just a game after all! I do appreciate it when platforms and games get involved in helping keep the community feel safe by making it easy to mute or report toxic players, and also reward friendly team behavior.

HC TIP: You can report toxic players on your Xbox One S All Digital Edition by following the instructions listed here

HC: What genre of games do you find yourself drawn to? What are some of your favorites?

AW: I generally gravitate toward MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena) because of their focus on teamwork, strategy, and the real stakes of playing against other people. In these games you generally have two opposing teams of a few players who both try to destroy each other’s bases. Each person controls a champion and uses various skills and items to fight through enemy lines and take out the opposing team, and eventually the enemy base. These games always involve a lot of team strategy, with people working together to achieve their common objective. You rely a lot on your team, which is perfect when you’re playing with your friends.

HC TIP: If you’re not sure which video games will speak to you, try Xbox Game Passwhere, for one low monthly price, you can enjoy unlimited access to over 100 great Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles. With so many games to explore, you’ll discover your next favorite game in no time!

HC: Do you feel like gaming inspires you creatively when it comes to your role with design at Her Campus Media?

AW: I draw inspiration from many different places - interior design, fashion, travel - basically everything I enjoy in life - and gaming is no different! I think that game, character, and story design are an incredibly rich source of inspiration. There’s a reason gaming is such an engaging and immersive form of entertainment for so many! I also strongly believe esports and gaming is a big part of the future and is already getting bigger and more important in our society day by day - and it’s always good as a creative to be inspired by what’s new and what’s next.

HC: Some women feel like video games are an activity their boyfriends should enjoy, but not themselves. Why do you think gaming has been traditionally branded for men?

AW: I think gaming has traditionally been branded for men for the same reason why sports were for a time seen as appropriate only for men. But I feel that the heart of gaming is story and strategy, and that’s something that anyone can get behind. Video games are most definitely for girls too! And for me personally, it’s one of the ways I became friends with my boyfriend-turned-husband, so why not lean into it and see if it’s something you can enjoy together? In fact, a lot of my friends and my husband’s friends are jealous that we’re able to spend time on this activity together that usually separates other couples. Gaming is a great way to relax, use your brain, and have fun with your friends at the same time!

HC: What are your thoughts on the new All-Digital Edition of the Xbox One S Console?

AW: I’m excited about it! This new Xbox is all digital, is obviously the way everything is going, so it makes a lot of sense and works well for my lifestyle.

HC Tip:  The Xbox One S All Digital Edition is all-digital console that does it all – you can download and play over 2,200 great games, stream your favorite shows with Netflix, Hulu & more in beautiful 4K Ultra HD, and enjoy your favorite social & entertainment apps like YouTube, Spotify, ESPN, and many more. It’s the perfect one-stop shop for your gaming & entertainment needs!

HC: How do you see the Xbox One S All Digital Edition becoming part of your regular gaming routine?

AW: The low price point of this console makes it an easy decision to add it to my gaming lineup at home, plus I’m excited to take advantage of the other connectivity and entertainment features of the console! I can definitely see this console becoming a part of my gaming routine with my husband and with friends that we have over for game nights.

HC: What advice do you have for women who want to get into gaming but don’t know where to start?

AW: I recommend getting a group of gaming friends together - preferably including a few that already play games and can help walk you through game mechanics and strategy. I also find it really helpful to watch streamers on platforms; a lot of good streamers narrate as they’re playing so you can get a play-by-play analysis of their decision-making.

HC Tip: At $249.99, the Xbox One S All Digital Edition is the perfect starter console. And if you’re looking to check out a game streaming site, as Annie suggests, take a trip over to Mixer.com and see what sparks your interest!

For more gaming inspo, check out She Came to Play, and get your Xbox One S All Digital Edition here.