This is a goodbye blog but because I’m me and because my brain NEVER works in the same order as everyone else’s I’m not going to tell you the standard “this is how it all ends” story. Instead, I’ll tell you how it all began.
Not the generic, interview “how did you get to be a Frag Doll” version, but the real from my head and my heart story of how I ended up here.
I will write it in the only way I know how; Improper and in true ADD style. I will write as if I was writing in my personal diary. I will recap some events; I will be more detailed with others. I will ramble on at times. I will misquote and paraphrase conversations, but I will tell my gamer story as I have always seen it in my head.
21 and Lost
Nov. 3rd, 2011 3:20am - I fed a goat some hay.
I remember being 21 years old. I was so fucking insecure. I thought I was suffering from depression. I always felt sad for no reason. Empty. Broken. My heart ached constantly. I couldn’t focus like normal people. The simplest tasks would be grueling for me. I bottled everything up for years, but the older I got the harder it was to hide. I had responsibilities now. I had to find a way to function in society.
I started to self-medicate. It made me feel normal, or what I always imagined “normal” feeling like. If normal meant enrolling into college, getting a job and making money then self-medication was working for me. But what’s Newton’s Third Law? “That for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
Self-medicating also made me numb. It steered me down a path that a once very shy Brooke would have never considered. I was in a world I never felt completely comfortable in. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of. I hated myself back then. I was so lost.
I ended up meeting a guy when I was living in Texas. He was different than most of the men I’d met. He spoke to me as if I was a human being. I liked that. We went on dates. He wasn’t prince charming by any means, but I wasn’t exactly a princess. He was decent to me, hardworking and was filled with insecurities just like me and I could relate to that. A few months later I moved in with him and he introduced me to something that would change my life forever: Online Gaming. I’m not sure if he knows he was the person that unknowingly kick started this important chapter of my life. I hope he knows. Do you know? Thank you.
DOES THIS GIRL EVER STOP TALKING? OMG
Nov. 4th, 2011 it’s late. I’m at a Days inn. I have a Crown and Coke in my hands
In 2002 my boyfriend bought Xbox live. I would watch him play Ghost Recon and think “Dang video games have gotten really advanced since my childhood days of playing Punch Out and Mario Bros”. One random day my boyfriend left the Xbox on and I could hear people speaking through his headset. I picked up the controller and started messing with the controls.
Trigger = Shoot. Toggles = movement.
‘I got this’
I got my first kill.
“Ha Haaaa. This is EASY. I’M AWESOME!”
The game seemed easy to me. I felt two moves ahead of everyone else.
For the 1st time I felt like I was actually good at something. I played all the time after that.
I eventually moved on to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 and dominated there as well. I wasn’t big on the talking part of Xbox Live so I would look for random servers to play in and once people started to get chatty I bounced out. It was in one of these random servers I met a girl named Athena (you probably know her as Valkyrie of the Frag Dolls. I call her Amy.) She was the founder of the all-girl clan .
She was soo LOUD! She talked A LOT.
I wasn’t annoyed by Amy, I was intimidated. She was smart and confident, the girl I always wanted to be more like. I wasn’t used to having healthy conversations. I honestly did not know how to communicate with someone like her. Pathetic, I know but that was me at this time:
Brooke- 21 year old girl, lost, insecure, self-medicated, sad, and a possible mental case…
So I ran away from her.
But Amy would not let me hide. She would come find me maaan!
I totally laugh at this now.
Amy: “Hey! Why did you leave my room?”
Me: “Umm I dropped? My boyfriend must be downloading something I guess. Sorry.”
Of course I was lying and I’m sure Amy knew this, but there were only a handful of girls playing Rainbow back then and she wasn’t going to let me run from her.
One day Amy asked me to sub in for a clan match. I think they needed a 4th or they would risk forfeiting. I did not want to play. I was a lone wolf and a ratio whore. Plus, MORE girls that talk? Omg. No thank you.
‘I play for fun. I’m never joining a clan!’
Not sure how Amy convinced me to play (I swear that girl can talk you into EVERYTHING you DON’T want to do. She’s magic like that). So there I was playing the map Garage and normally I would run out there like an asshole and slaughter everything in my way (Lone wolf, remember?) but instead I just froze there ‘like an asshole’.
I thought, ‘Shit! These girls are depending on me. Play smart. DON’T DIE. DON’T DIE DON’T DIE’
I don’t recall if we won that clan match but I do remember feeling amazing afterwards. It was a high but a healthy, natural one. I felt hyped, excited, I laughed. I started talking to the girls, recapping and expressing my excitement about how everything went down.
I WANTED TO PLAY IN ALL THE PMS CLAN MATCHES AFTER THAT NIGHT!
I always looked forward to the end of the match when Amy would announce the MVP. Even though its sounds so small It was everything to me. I liked hearing I was good at something.
Rainbow and the PMS girls gave me a newfound confidence that night. Sure, I was still insecure as hell, still sad, but for the 8-10 hours a day I played Rainbow I felt like:
Brooke- 21 year old-kick ass Rainbow player- funny-popular- MVP- THE G3A3 F’ING QUEEN BABY!
Note to the gaming industry: Video games offer us so much more than gameplay. You know that. I know that. Just Never forget that. Remember this when you’re tired, feel defeated, undervalued and even after you just read the 100thh tweet on why “YOU” suck and “YOU” ruined gaming forever. You don’t suck. You’re awesome! Put your heart into everything you do, remember why video games are important. Change the way people see and interact with this world. Keep giving us your special gift. Thank you.
BROOKE, CALL ME!
Nov. 8th, 2011 At a Starbucks. I’m staring at a cowboy.
I had this constant fear that if I stopped playing for just a few days some badass new chick was going to come in and steal all my glory. But my dad missed me. And I often miss my dad so I decided to pull the plug for a week and go visit my dad in his little cabin out in Utah. I warned the girls I wouldn’t be able to compete in clan matches. My dad was still using a dial up connection at the time.
I was like a crack head with no crack. I was totally jonesing hard, maan. I even resorted to playing Rainbow Six campaign, hoping to get a small fix- It just enraged me.
I never liked playing the offline campaign back then, mostly because my AI teammates were THE WORST!
AI: “Got your back Ding”
Me: “REALLY?” “Are you really just going to stand in the middle of the doorway like that? Great. Now I’m dead. ‘Way to have my back’ ” :P
If I wasn’t able to play I at least wanted to know if my girls were winning their matches.
I connected to the internet through dial up. I typed in the web address for the PMS Clan forums. Waited 7 minutes (I remember! I timed that shit) for the forum to load, browsed the forums and saw a topic directed toward me.
Read something like this…
BROOKE, CALL ME! THIS IS IMPORTANT!
I immediately called Amy and she had excitement in her voice. She was speaking at super-speed. I was trying to make out her words.
Amy: I’ve been trying to get a hold of you WOMAN!
Remember The Ubisoft job listing on Craigslist?
I got a phone interview. omg
They liked me. They want to fly me out!
I HAD to tell them about YOU and how much you kick ass at Rainbow Six.
THEY WANT TO SPEAK WITH YOU! OMG.
Me: What…? Really?
Ubisoft was looking to hire female gamers that would play, promote and compete on their games.
I’m Still Not A Player I Just Crush A lot!
Nov. 8th, 2011 Still at Starbucks. Listening to Big Pun.
The next part of this story happened so fast; all within a few days of Amy’s call.
I received a call from Ubisoft, there were two people on the call, a man by the name of Nate Mordo and a young woman (23) named Morgan Romine (later known as Frag Doll Rhoulette) They asked me sooo many questions and I was nervous!
Brooke Thought- I could speak freely and confidently about my love for gaming and the Tom Clancy series, but I lied when it came to the future goals, and my 5 year plan questions. Lying is wrong. Yes I know this! but I wanted the job. What was I supposed to say “Yeah my 5 year goal is to sit in my apt and only eat, shit and play Rainbow? So I told them what I told a lot of people back then, that my plan was to be a graphic designer. <- I did go to school for this, but I was never into it, I was never able to focus long enough to absorb anything and because of this I would bounce in and out of school for years. 1 semester here, 2 semesters there… I hated school! School was just a constant reminder to me on how badly my brain sucked!
My passion for gaming and Rainbow must have shown through because the next thing I knew I was on a plane to San Francisco. FUCK YEAH!
I met Amy there.
This was the first time I met someone from Xbox Live in person. She was so little and I was so tall. She had the blondest hair, and I had the darkest. She was outgoing, I was kind of shy.
We checked into our San Francisco hotel.
We were pumped up.
We talked about the possibility of us BOTH getting the gig.
We strategically picked out outfits we would wear for our interviews the following morning. She would wear an all-black suit and I would wear all-white.
Our reasoning probably went something like this,
‘This way they will HAVE to notice us’
‘Yeah! We will totally stand out!’
(Amy, Nate, myself on interview day)
Nov. 12th, 2011 7:34pm- Just watched a YouTube video of Michelle Obama doing the Dougie. I feel better. I’m ready to write now. Take 58 annnnnnd ACTION!
We arrived at the Ubisoft office to find other girl gamers just like us- except they were in jeans and t-shirts and looked cool and hip NOT In black and white pant suits (I never listened to Amy’s fashion advice after that day. :P )
Nate and Morgan came out and greeted us. Nate seemed easy-going, laid back. My first impression of Morgan was similar to the one I had with Amy:
This girl looks SMART! Wow. She is so well-spoken and has BIG words. She’s going to see that I can’t pronounce the easiest of words. She is going to judge me. I probably won’t get this gig. Soo scared!
<Photo taken later that night>
Who knew that the girl I was so intimidated by that morning would later become my best friend AND the kind of best friend that makes me emotional EVERY FUCKING TIME I think about her, her kindness and the patience and love she has given me and so many others throughout the years. Love you forever, Morgan
On with the story…
*I will not CRY*
*I totally just cried* Motherfuck!
They ask us to go into this small conference room where we found a few TV’s hooked up to Xbox’s.
In this room I got to know more about the other girl gamers.
There was a girl named Ashley (later known as Frag Doll Jinx) and I thought she was super pretty.
“She will DEFINITELY get picked”
There was a girl on a webcam. Her name was Theresa (Later known as Frag Doll Eekers)
I thought, “Aww that sucks! I wonder why she has to do her interview via webcam? Poor girl probably won’t get the job because of it.” Lol. She got the job. Also, she had the most adorable laugh “Hehehe hee”
There was a girl named Kat. (Later known as Frag Doll Katscratch) During her introduction she said she liked Animal Crossing. ‘what the hell is an animal crossing? I thought. ;) (I didn’t know jack shit about other games. I knew Clancy’s and Halo. Sometimes I would play Tetris when I was suffering from extreme boredom.
We were tested on multiple games: Rainbow, Halo, and Ghost Recon. No one could hang with Amy or me when it came to the Clancy titles. We would destroy, and then give each other the ‘we got this this in the bag’ look
And just when I thought I was so effing cool a girl by the name of Emily (Later known as Frag Doll Seppuku) turned me into her little bitch when she dominated me in Halo. Amy did really well, but Emily had me hiding in corners. ‘Okay, this chick is definitely competition’.
After a full day of playing games and being judged I walked out of there dazed. My head was buzzing. I went home and waited for what felt like the LONGEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. Then I got the call…
“We want you to be part of the team”
I heard nothing else after this. I can’t even tell you if it was Nate or Morgan that told me the amazing news.
I had the biggest smile on my face. I must’ve walked in 100 circles during that call (I can’t sit and talk. That’s like torture to me).
I hung up the phone. I screamed.
I was 1 of 7 girls called that week…
The Original 7 Frag Dolls
Brookelyn, Eekers, Jinx, Katscratch, Rhoulette, Seppuku,Valkyrie
Fun fact: “Fox Force 7” was being considered as a team name. ” Frag Dolls” beat it out
Brooke memory: Two memories that have always made me smile. 1. Amy and I jumping up and down on our San Francisco hotel beds in excitement over the possibility of becoming a Frag Doll, just like two 14 year girls would do at a slumber party. We were so little and cute. 2. I remember receiving my first paycheck as a Frag Doll. I held it with both hands, stared at it and got emotional. It was a good cry though. I felt proud of myself. I made money doing something I loved and it was honest and damn did it feel good. I will forever be thankful to Amy, Morgan, Nate, Ubisoft, and of course Rainbow Six. Love you forever)
Oh Dear God
Nov. 17th, 2011 7:34pm Pressure. My blog goes up tomorrow. Why am I taking so long to write my gamer story? Is this my way of holding on to something I love for just a little bit longer? Possibly.
I was a Frag Doll now. I wasn’t about to fuck shit up. I started to check out of my old lifestyle and put all my energy into being the best Frag Doll I could be. It was a positive change, yes but unfortunately my boyfriend and I didn’t see eye to eye anymore. We broke up. So it goes…
I moved to San Antonio and lived in Amy’s attic. lol Hey, it felt like a fort or clubhouse. I thought it was pretty freakin cool. San Antonio was where I had my first attempts at trying to find help for my crazy brain. I revisited my relationship with God. I spoke to him often.
I always started my prayer going through, what at times seemed like an endless list of people or animals I wanted him to comfort or protect (I always feared I was going to leave someone out) I would end my prayer asking God for three blessings- I called these my ‘My selfish prayers’ - I prayed that he would give me a voice. I have always had insecurities about my speech. I grew up with a lisp and my tongue never kept up with my brain. I mispronounced a lot of words and often paused in the middle of sentences because I realized I wasn’t physically able to say a particular word, I would have to sit and try to think of another one. It was embarrassing. I hated it. I could see that my pausing annoyed most people through-out the years. Hell, I annoyed myself. I prayed that he would make my heart less sensitive. I wanted it to stop hurting over EVERYTHING sad. I also asked him to make my mind clear and capable of doing anything that Ubisoft or my teammates asked of me. “I just want to feel normal!” I often shouted in frustration through the years.
The Wonder Years
The first years of being a Frag Doll were my favorite. Our main focus was to practice and compete. We would travel to all the major gaming events and compete in tournaments or set up ‘Shoot Outs’ on whatever FPS we were promoting for Ubisoft at the time. Talk about a dream job. Here is an old video I found of Calyber, Valkyrie and I at SXSW hosting a shoot-out (Gawd we were such adorable little assholes, weren’t we? Lol)
Or did I really win?
This was the day I met my husband, Anim8rjb (My JB). He was an animator (hence the gamer tag) and one of the four Bungie employees competing in the Hump day challenge that day. I quickly zeroed in on him, which is interesting because the boy rarely spoke and when he did he was sarcastic as shit! (Canadians everywhere would be so proud). I liked his dry humor. I also liked that he didn’t speak for the sake of JUST making noise (like so many do on Xbox Live. Thank God for mute)
Now I had never pursued a boy before, but I was a Frag Doll now which gave me a little bit of confidence so I did what any girl with a crush would do in the age of the internet- I stalked the hell out of him. I looked up his profile: “You got to be fucking kidding me? THIS guy is an animator? He’s so HAWT!”
Funny how I stereotyped him just like so many have stereotyped girls in games over the years. Yes, I was guilty of this too.
I started popping up in his Halo games. I loved embarrassing him in front of all his friends and co-worker as we sat in the lobby. “I think Anim8rjb is soo sexy!” The room would laugh. JB would go silent. I LOVED IT! He was the cutest.
My persistence paid off. He started to flirt back. For the next six months we spent most of our dates in private Halo matches, Rainbow Six Co-op or playing Links…
We fell in love…
I moved to Seattle to be with him…
3 years later we got married…
Life was pretty F’ing rad!
JB, You’re my heart. My strength. My everything! Thank you for never giving up on me and holding my hand throughout it all. You’re such a wonderful, kindhearted man and I feel so blessed to have you in my life. Love you forever and ever <3, B
Everything is rad. Why don’t I feel rad?
Depression is Ugly, it makes no sense and it fucking dark!
I had all these wonderful things in my life but still felt sad without reason. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world.
Frag Dolls started to grow and we were expected to do more than just compete. BUT my brain doesn’t know how to focus on anything but gaming! I can’t even write a blog without crying in frustration every TIME. Thank God for JB, his patience and his basic knowledge of English. I depended on him to fix my blogs for years.
Everything seemed tough. Some days were better, but I spent a lot of my Frag Doll years making excuses for missing deadlines, or turning incomplete work. I hated that. Remember, I truly LOVED being a Frag Doll, getting paid to do something I love, my girls, my husband and family. I wanted to make them proud. I did not want to disappoint and I DID NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO MY OLD LIFE!
I tried everything to get my brain and my heart on track. I talked to people. I looked for answers. At one point a trained professional stuck acupuncture needles in me.
I never stopped praying to God.
I would get so angry. I would scream at myself in the mirror:
“SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT BROOKE! Your life is sooo Good. There are people out there that have real sadness, real problems. SUCK IT UP! JUST BE HAPPY!”
It was hard.
Enough of the Emo. On with the Good
Nov. 20th. 2011 4:35pm I think I might’ve drank too much coffee. WHOA!
I think you get the point. I was fucked up.
I eventually found the help I needed and found a lot of the answers I had been looking for for so long.
I am no longer scared of my own thoughts.
I started this year feeling like I was totally in the dark. I didn’t know where I was going. My brain felt mixed up and confused. Now, less than 12 months later things have changed. I can organize my thoughts better and because of this my mind feels clearer and happier.
I feel awake, aware and capable.
Things got better, colors got brighter, I started to see people, but like REALLY SEE them this time and I liked that. I started to like myself and I smile with sincerity now. It’s the most wonderful feeling! The most exciting part of this all is that I woke up feeling capable. For the first time I wasn’t scared to fall, or to do things on my own.
Along with all of this came the realization that I was ready for what was next (even if I’m still not 100% sure WHAT that is). I knew it was time for me to go.
I will wrap this up now. I will end my story with what this story means to me.
The Frag dolls. My Husband. Friends and Family never gave up on me. They protected me, gave me all their love and support and they gave me a reason to keep fighting.
What’s the moral of the story? I don’t know. I was lost. I was low. I was in the dark. But through the love, help and support of a truly amazing group of people I came out the other side a better person. A person that I like a lot. Thank you to all of my friends, family, teammates, and EVERYONE that I’ve met along the way that made this journey, MY LIFE, possible. You’ve all touched my life in some way and there aren’t enough thank yous in the world to REALLY tell you how much that means to me.
Love is a beautiful thing y’all. This is one thing I’m sure of, and it matters
Peace Love and blue birds
P.S. And just like Rhoulette’s farewell blog I will have to save my individual Thank yous for another day. I want to make sure I have all the right words for the special people that came along in my life and made it so BRIGHT… so awesome and beautiful.