Jenn Mac's Story: A Conversation in Context
When Joanie asked me to write my story for Women in Games International, my first thoughts were, ‘Who am I? Why is my story important?’ The more I ruminated on the idea, the more I realized those were the questions I needed to answer. Every single one of us matters. Every single one of us has an important story to tell. Yes, especially you. Your story could be the catalyst that creates hope in someone's life.
From the moment you are born your story shapes who you are, from the smallest details to the grandest gestures. This influences the person you grow into. My story begins in South Korea in the mid 1980s, a very different place than South Korea today. We had brown running water, dirt roads and martial law. My context as a military brat meant by my 5th birthday I lived in two countries, at least 5 different states, with two different families and scripted the explanation of my existence. It’s safe to say my context is probably very different from yours.
Enter video games.
Video games became my stability starting at the age of 3. I was reunited with my parents with the release of the VTECH Socrates Entertainment System, and on my 4th birthday got my first Nintendo Entertainment System. While most people grew up with community, friends, family and building a foundation in their area, I had Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and Tiny Toons Adventures. While in today’s world my context would label me a privileged cool kid, at the time my identity as a ethnically Scottish Korean American Gamer Girl meant I didn’t fit anywhere. Too white to be Asian. Too Asian to be white. Too much girl to be a gamer. Too much of a gamer to be a girl. Too Korean to be American. Too American to be Korean. Too smart to be pretty. Too pretty to be smart. Too in between to be any one thing at any given time, with the expectation of being all of those things.
Did I also mention I’m the eldest of four daughters in an Asian household? Society gaslit my existence. Teachers failed me for knowing the historical context of my people. Peers shunned me for being too different, and not different enough. In fact, there is a pretty famous commercial calling Scottish Koreans walking contradictions, yet here I am… existing for 35 years now. Now, I live in the opposite reality. Video games are erupting into the mainstream scene. People that criticized my culture in high school, now send me their kimchi recipes. Online culture is melding with offline culture. Kpop is everywhere.
My role as Director of Global Partnerships and Influencers at Women in Games International, relies on the very experiences I was shunned for as a kid. My knowledge on gaming culture, my ability to connect and communicate with people of all backgrounds, plus my cross-cultural world experience all come together to create space for other folks like me.
This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t embrace who I was and rejected the stories I inherited about myself. Whatever your story is, tell it. Tell it every chance you get to anyone that will listen. Someone is out there, waiting for you to be the example they need to follow.