While video games are still often mentioned in the media as some kind of children's toy, the reality is that entire generations have now grown up with video games as a form of entertainment no different than television and film. Among them is Los Angeles singer Alexis Garriott, who began her video game journey more than two decades ago.
"I've just realized that I've been a gamer for over 20 years, which is awesome," Garriott said. "Some of my first memories are sitting in front of my grandfather's Tandy and Gateway computers, playing games. My parents bought me a Nintendo for Christmas when I was around 7 years old and I was hooked. I loved Duck Hunt, Mario Bros., and Excitebike. The first big purchase I ever made for myself was the first edition of the Game Boy. Since then, I have bought every console except for the Sega Dreamcast."
In addition to her continued passion for video games, Garriott has also worked in a variety of creative and educational outlets.
"Currently I'm a software tester but this is definitely not my dream job," she added. "I've held a variety of positions in the educational industry, mostly through school districts, but my true passions are singing and video games. I've been singing onstage since I was 7 years old and if I could do that and make a living at it, my life would be perfect. When I'm not singing or playing games, I also love to draw and make movies. For me, really, any kind of creative outlet is essential to my happiness because my day to day job isn't very creative at all. I think the happiest times in my professional life were when I was teaching kids about the wonders of technology and video production. Seeing kids have the opportunity to learn skills that will literally open doors for them as adults was so rewarding and fun at the same time."
Over time, Alexis continued to stick with video game consoles until she was introduced to World of Warcraft, a game she says opened her eyes to a whole new video game experience.
"From the moment I saw the trailer, I was obsessed," she said. "I was not very good at it at first but I found my stride once I became a Druid Tank, which then led to being the Death Knight main tank for our guild. I think one of the biggest strengths of these types of games are the communities that are built around them. I firmly believe that one of the main strengths of WoW and why it has persevered as long as it has is because of the highly involved community."
Warcraft also brought more than a tight knit community and gaming experience to Garriott's life.
"I met my fiancee playing World of Warcraft," Alexis recalled. "I was a guild leader in WoW on and off over a seven year period, and my boyfriend at the time invited Ryan to our guild in 2005. After speaking we realized that we went to the same college and we became fast friends. It wasn't long after that that we fell in love and had a long distance relationship for years. Being the guild leader while he was the raid leader led to some interesting arguments at times but ultimately we understand each other to the core. My motto is that if you really want to get to know someone, you have to play video games with them."
Garriott also stated that she feels stereotypes about video game culture are outdated and out of touch, including a question that asked if she and her husband-to-be planned to dress up in costumes for their wedding due to their video game hobby. She states that she strongly believes there is far more good within video gaming than the media often says there is.
"I think that video games can really be used as a tool for good," she added. "I have witnessed the worldwide connections that can be made through video games. The longer that society persecutes the video game industry and therefore the video gamer, the more time and potential are lost arguing over semantics. It is so easy to point fingers at this thing or that thing causing someone to go crazy and shoot innocent people, but the fact is, a video game can't be blamed for it any more than an Eminem track. Video games on the whole are not obscene because most reasonable people know the difference between a video game and reality."
In addition to video gaming, Garriott states her creative performances have allowed her to discover her truest self.
"I am a singer first and foremost. Music and theater have defined who I am," she added. "All I ever want to do is just sing onstage and being in plays is a way for me to accomplish that. I played Janet in The Rocky Horror Show for three years and it truly changed my life. Looking at who I was when I first started the show and where I ended up after three years, I am a completely different person. I always considered myself to be a pretty confident person when it came to performing, but doing a show like Rocky really challenges everything that you think about yourself as a performer."
Garriott states that she will continue to seek out both new video game adventures and new opportunities to express herself creatively. Among her upcoming adventures are plans to audition next year for NBC's The Voice.
"We shall see how that pans out," she said. "I miss being onstage and I'm always looking for new opportunities to perform."