Talking Video Games With Pamela Horton – October 2012 Playmate and Kick-Ass Gamer
Gamer Living got a chance to sit down with the Playboy Mansion’s newest resident gamer and Miss October 2012, Pamela Horton to talk about video games, being a female gamer, college, and her future aspirations.
WA (Will Anderson): So, I know that you’re short on time, so I guess we’ll go ahead and get this started. First off I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule to do this, and also congratulations on making Miss October 2012 – that’s very cool.
PH (Pamela Horton): Thank you very much! It’s actually my pleasure, thank you for wanting to interview me.
WA: Obviously the word got out really fast that you’re very big into games – League of Legends, World of Warcraft; how’s the reaction kind of been from the media?
PH: I’d have to say it was about 50/50, and it has never been a neutral response; it’s always been one extreme or the other. […] Everybody’s like, “Oh my gosh you play games!” or “She doesn’t play games; there’s no way she’s a gamer.” There’s been a lot of name-calling, and people who associate the name of Playboy with porn, or the adult sexual enterprise – they associate Playboy with that so they automatically think I’m some kind of floozy, you know, it’s a lot of stereotyping right now.
WA: Yeah. It’s not very common, I guess, for an attractive girl that’s a public figure to be associated with video games? There’s the other side of it too; there’s still a lot of sexism going on in the industry.
PH: Yeah, well also it could be that there are plenty of attractive women out there who play video games, who are so afraid of the stereotyping and the judgment and the cynicism who don’t want to come out and say, “Hey, I’m a gamer” because they just don’t want to deal with the aftermath that comes with it.
WA: Yeah. So has there been a lot of aftermath?
PH: Well, since I’m trying to pursue a career in gaming, obviously that’s the platform I’m trying to reach out to, and now I’ve put a lot of hell in front of me by choosing gaming. And you know it’s not like at the age of 18 I decided to be a gamer, I’ve been a gamer since I was five years old and it’s something that I’ve always been really passionate about, but I wanted to be a character designer for a video game company, but … You know, I was in school at a private school in Wichita and I had a full ride scholarship to their music program and then when the recession hit, half of my scholarships got pulled because the banks financing them went bankrupt.
PH: And so I had to stop going to school because as a high school student you try to get scholarships or funding for college but I was thinking “Oh, I’ve got a full ride at this school I don’t need to worry about money.” So I go in planning on having this money and [end up] having it pulled two weeks before the semester starts and being told that I need to come up with $16,000 before I can even start my first semester. It set me back a lot and I haven’t been able to pick up where I left off.
WA: Yeah, that’s a tough gig… So you’ve been gaming for a long time. What’s your earliest memory of playing games?
PH: My earliest and one of my first memories as a child, my dad has always been a big Legend of Zelda fan, and I mean he had The Adventure of Link, Legend of Zelda, all that on the NES, and I remember watching my dad and my brother play, and one day when I was five years old – because I was just sitting behind my dad – he asked if I wanted to start a game. And I started playing Zelda: A Link to the Past, and I played it so often and so actively I actually learned how to do that first sequence (where you save Princess Zelda and you take her to the cathedral) before I knew how to tie my own shoes. And even to this day it’s a memory I keep with me. I will always know where not to go, which bosses I need to kill, which ones I can get away with not killing, and I’ve always had that memory in my mind ever since I was a very little girl.
WA: Very cool. I see – I’m reading your Facebook profile, you know, doing a little trolling while we do this [laughter], but aside from League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Zelda, I see Chrono Trigger in here, so you’re big on RPGs.
PH: I am; I’m a very big RPG girl. I’ve tried first-person shooters; it’s never just captivated me the way RPGs have. Some of the campaigns, like the campaign in Gears of War 3, that had me. Have you played Gears of War 3?
PH: So, when Dom died, I cried my eyes out. And you know, campaigns are really captivating because there’s that story, but a lot of people play first-person shooters for the, you know the kill count, the MVP, I’m not really into that, and there’s just not that much engaging material for me so I try to avoid first-person shooters. And plus, I wouldn’t say that I was any good at them anyway, so you know, you want to play what you’re good at, and I don’t think I’m good at first-person shooters. But other than those games you mentioned, I’m a huge fan of God of War and Assassin’s Creed. I’ve been told many, many, many times that I need to pick up Borderlands 2, and I just got Pokémon White 2, and it’s not that my Playmate title keeps me from playing games by any means, you know, I make time when I can [laughs].
WA: So, now that you’ve kind of become a bit of a star, how much has that taken away from your game time? How many hours do you get in a week now?
PH: Actually, to be perfectly honest, I still game about the same, maybe not for as long, it’ll be like one or two games of League of Legends one evening, two hours in the morning of Pokémon, or it used to be that I had like one entire day just to game, you know, and I dedicated that entire day to level up my druid on World of Warcraft, but now it’s just in smaller increments. Still just the same amount, I’m not any less of a gamer, I just have to organize my time a little bit differently.
WA: Kinda just get it in when you can.
WA: So, you’re a 3DS fan as well I saw?
PH: Oh, yeah! I actually have the Legend of Zelda 3DS.
WA: And you’re big on the Pokémon too?
WA: Have you been following the series for a while? What are your thoughts on the Black and White 2?
PH: Actually I like how, you know in the other Pokémon games when you defeat the elite 4 and you have to go defeat the champion or whatever. In Pokémon SoulSilver you actually defeat a character you played in a previously played in another game, I love that incorporation, I love the way they tied those things together. Or in, I think it was SoulSilver also – they jumble all together having played them all – you go back to one of the previous regions, I think it was Unova and you go to Jhoto to fight all the same gym leaders. But of course [the games are] redone, they have different Pokémon and stuff, and just the nostalgia you get from that and having that association because I played Pokémon when it first came out. I got (I think it was my tenth Christmas) – my parents made it an entirely Pokémon-themed Christmas – I got the yellow Pikachu Gameboy color, I got Pokémon yellow. Pikachu’s always been my boy, for a very long time.
WA: Do you have the talking Pikachu?
PH: Actually I do! The one where you hold his hand and his ears move and he says “Pikachu”? My favorite thing about that doll is it’s got that sensor on its face where if you leave it on but you leave it alone he’ll make sad Pikachu noises.
WA: That sounds so pitiful.
PH: Yeah I know! I love the crap out of that doll. It still works, one of the ears doesn’t work and one of the cheeks doesn’t light up but it still works. [Laughter]
WA: I actually got one for my daughter when she was younger, and I had to take the batteries out of it, because when we put it under the Christmas tree it was making the pitiful little “Chuuu!”
PH: “Piiiika” [laughs]. Yeah, the same thing happened to me, I’m not afraid to admit, even in high school I’d sleep with my Pikachu doll, or I’d sleep with my stuffed cat doll. I’d snuggle up next to that Pikachu one and it’d make those sad noises and it’d wake me up and I’d feel horrible. Like, “I’m sorry Pikachu I have to turn you off!” [laughs]
WA: So, now that things are kind of moving along, are you planning on going back to college any time soon, or what are the plans for that?
PH: My main plan right now, and it’s kind of coming to fruition and I’m actually really excited about it: I’m trying to get in at Riot Games, you know the maker of League of Legends.
PH: And I did have the pleasure of going to the world championship. Riot Games contacted me and said “Hey, you’re getting us a lot of attention on our sub-Reddit, would you like to come to the world championship?” And they actually paid for me and my boyfriend to fly in from Wichita, Kansas out to Santa Monica and stay for the World Championship. And I was just expecting tickets but they got me backstage passes, I got to meet all the players from team Solo Mid and Moscow Five. And even Elements from team Solo Mid was like “Hey, I heard you’re streaming League of Legends now, I can help you with that,” and I was like “Whaaat?” And also Dan Dinh said the same thing. And the guy who had invited me out had mentioned to one of his co-workers “Hey, we’re thinking of bringing her on as a host,” so if that comes together and I start working at Riot what I’m going to do is work a host job or doing their promotional events and stuff, and go back to school while I’m doing that. And I eventually want to be a character designer for Riot Games, that’s my ultimate goal. And just having them give me the time of day, and they took care of me and everyone was so nice and was so excited to meet me, and there was no judgment, just love. And I would love more than anything to be a part of that team, and just what they represent for their fans. I mean, I wouldn’t mind working at Riot Games for the rest of my life. I can be an average character designer, I don’t have to be a big name in lights, I don’t want to be a star, I’m fine working an hourly or salary wage, that’s fine for me. [Laughs] You just gotta do what you love.
WA: So, for you, what’s the attraction of League of Legends over – it seems like you’re a really huge fan – over other MMOs? What drew you into that game?
PH: Actually, it’s phases. It just so happens that I’m playing League of Legends more than World of Warcraft, despite the Mists of Pandaria release. I go through stages where I’m like “I just want to play WoW all day long, every day, forever,” and all of a sudden I’ll get on and realize “I don’t feel like questing,” or “I don’t feel like heroics.” You know, I still love the game, just not [with] as much enthusiasm; I go back and forth between games. There’ll be times where even League of Legends or World of Warcraft doesn’t do it for me, when I’ll start looking into console games and reading reviews and trying to see what games I should play, despite not really having a starting interest in them. It really depends. I’d like to say right now that my favorite is League of Legends. I play it most often, but I have a very special spot in my heart for all the games that I play, and I just play favorites at certain points in time and not overall. [Laughter]
WA: What would you say is the game that has made the greatest impact on you personally?
PH: The one that I would say made the biggest impact is Final Fantasy XI Online. Because that was the game that set me up for playing MMOs online, you know that game of course came out in, I believe 2001, and it’s still going now, I still have an active account and I still play. And it was the first MMO I ever played, the first time I ever got really addicted to a game and, you know, and found myself waking up really early in the morning to camp a boss and try to get some items. It started taking up more than just my casual gaming time like console games did, and that’s when my MMO virginity was taken. [Laughs]
WA: So, the big thing that’s been kind of going on for the last year or so there’s been a lot of talk about the sexism that’s going on in the competitive gaming spaces, people hear about it a lot in the voice chats and everything. What’s your take on it? Do you run into it a lot, and if so, how do you deal with it?
PH: With gender stereotyping and things like that?
PH: Actually I get asked that question a lot, and the stereotyping with women and video games is so much to the point that that’s another big factor why I don’t play first-person shooters. I’m a big team player, you know; in League of Legends you have to work together and if there’s one bad apple in your team, your whole team fails. I love teamwork, I love being the support character, I like taking care of people and that aspect is a part of me in “real life.” I enjoy taking care of people and having them rely on me. And when I’m trying to help people and they’re just dogging on me because I’m a girl, it doesn’t make me feel very good when I’m trying to do what I can to help them. I might die when trying to help them get kills, and when they’re like “feeder!” or “you’re such a horrible player,” I’m trying to set them up and they don’t realize what I’m trying to do. I just feel that women don’t get appreciated as much because they are women, and it’s unfair. Unfortunately. I get asked a lot what can be done about it and because of the nature of gaming and the nature of men overall, you know, the average guy, they’re still kind of close-minded about it, and I don’t see it changing any time soon because it’s not just like something that can easily be changed. Guys see women objectified in games so they’re going to objectify the women that play the games. So it’s like, get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich, and plus they’re hiding behind the anonymity of the gamer tag or the internet. They’re not going to have any repercussions for what they say or do because they’re not using their real name; you’re not right in front of them in their face. If you get in an altercation, you could potentially get arrested but if words are thrown and people make life-threatening chat calls in whatever game, people don’t go “I’m gonna call the cops,” they’re just like “yeah whatever,” – that happens all the time. Like “I’m gonna come kill you,” and “your mom is stupid,” and just, bleh. [Laughter]
WA: Yeah it does make it really hard to deal with, especially when you can’t see the person face-to-face. But for a lot of people out there, obviously if you’re dealing with a competitive environment, you mentioned FPSs they get that way frequently; do you have any advice for other female gamers who are going through that kind of thing?
PH: Well, I’m a different kind of girl gamer, there are girls out there who only play first-person shooters, and personally, I think they’re my favorite gamers, because they are so strong and so tough and can handle that. I can’t. I can openly admit that I can’t handle being constantly abused or made fun of just because I’m a girl. But the girls that use that to their advantage, you know if a guy’s going to follow her to try to kill her, she gets the most kills out of that game because that guy’s being an asshole and trying to kill her. You know, all girl gamers just gotta stick to their guns and do what you’re passionate about. Don’t let the stereotypes of gamers or the stereotypes of gender choose what you do. If you’re passionate about RPGs, play RPGs. If you’re passionate about puzzles, play puzzles. You’re a gamer, be a gamer. Don’t let people affect that.
WA: That’s good advice. One last question: with the holiday coming up, what are you looking forward to the most?
PH: For Halloween specifically or for Christmas?
WA: For the holiday, for Christmas.
PH: Oh! The one that I’ve been anticipating the most, ever since I saw the pictures in Game Informer is God of War: Ascension. I know it comes out on the 30th, and I’m in LA right now doing interviews and work and stuff and I stay until the 29th because there’s a Mansion Halloween party and, you know, I’m Miss October I gotta go to the Halloween party. [Laughs]
WA: Well, of course.
PH: But the day after I get home is the day God of War comes out. And I called my boyfriend and I told him, “I am so sorry to do this to you, but I hope you know that you’re not gonna have your girlfriend.” He’s like “I hope you know that you’re not gonna have a PS3, because I’m gonna be playing God of War: Ascension.” (Laughter) We haven’t seen each other in almost a week and we won’t see each other until the 29th and it’s like, you know where my priorities are when I’m like “God of War, God of War!” [Laughter]
WA: Have you had a chance to play it at all yet?
PH: No, actually, the only potential pre-release games that I might get to play is Assassin’s Creed 3 or Halo 4, and I don’t want to be disrespectful to those, like, freaking out about Halo 4 and be like, “yeah, I don’t care about Halo 4, and you know I got to play it,” and whatever. I feel like that opportunity should be given to one of those die-hard Halo 4 fans. You know I’ll take Assassin’s Creed 3, I love that, I will be all over Connor. When I saw the commercial for it and saw it was implied that George Washington was in there, I did this huge fist pump, like “yeah!” (Laughs) I’m really excited about that one, and I have the potential this week to play a pre-release of that one and I’m so excited about it.
WA: Excellent. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us, and I hope you have a wonderful Halloween, a great holiday.
PH: Thank you.
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