by Erin Siu
While the typical roommate bonding experience for most girls may include dorm decorating, yoga and Netflix binge watching, my freshman roommate and I bonded over watching YouTube videos of 27-year old American video gamer “TheRadBrad” play video games.
One Friday night during the first semester of our freshman year, my roommate and I had a conversation about video games and whether or not we had played them in the past.
Video games had always been a part of my childhood. When my little brother was old enough to get his first Nintendo Gameboy, I was also introduced to the art of video gaming. Since then, I’ve grown fond of video games and have played games from “Mario Kart” to “World of Warcraft” with legitimate bragging rights, such as getting to the highest level in the online game, which is no easy feat.
Unlike me, my roommate has little experience in the video gaming field. She played a bit of “Runescape”—a popular online multiplayer role-playing game—when she was younger, but nothing more. Since I knew she loved horror movies, I mentioned a new, first-person horror video game that recently came out called “Outlast.” The gamer takes on the role of a freelance investigative journalist sent to a psychiatric hospital in order to solve the unexplainable murders of patients that are taking place in the hospital. Most of the in-game environment is pitch black, and the player has to navigate obstacles and hospital corridors using only a night-vision video camera. Because my roommate and I both enjoy watching horror movies, she was intrigued and wanted to know more, so I searched “Outlast gameplays” on YouTube and finally came across a 13-part gameplay series by “TheRadBrad”—whose videos have fostered over 1.3 billion views and 4 million YouTube subscribers.
From that day forward, my roommate and continually watched his “Outlast” gameplay as much as we could every night. We grew fond of Brad and his narrative commentary. When we finished all thirteen, half-hour videos of “Outlast”, we moved on to watching his other horror video game gameplays, such as “Silent Hill”, “Amnesia”, and “House 2.”
We now spend countless nights watching “TheRadBrad” gameplays as if they are horror movies. Although we call our love for horror video games a guilty pleasure, I wonder if the only reason we do so is because gaming is more often associated with male college students, not female ones. Male college students may also feel that watching gameplays on YouTube are considered a “guilty pleasure”, but most video games are marketed primarily towards male players, and a majority of game protagonists are male. Stereotypes aside, my roommate’s and my love for watching horror video game gameplays is a pleasurable surprise for both of us. Our bonding nights are not only filled with nail painting, gossip and boy-talk, but also various episodes of “TheRadBrad.” There is definitely no guilt in that.