Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Keisha Howard who currently is displayed on card number 9, from the Superstars of 2011 Collection. Infectiously passionate about the worlds of video games and geek culture, Keisha Howard is a leader who has created a compelling and engaging vision and inspires others around it. A two-time TEDx Speaker, Keisha is able to foresee what lies beyond the horizon for the video game and e-sports industries. She regards gaming as more than entertainment, but a system of ideas and processes that can move and inspire people to action. Video games and the tools to make them are changing the future, and Keisha wants to make sure we can all be a part of that conversation.
What was your vision when you started Sugar Gamers and where do you see it in the future?
My Vision of Sugar Gamers was a space where people could come together for their love of gaming and geek culture without the need of competitiveness or the look of homogeny. Just the joy one has when meeting people of similar interests that will warmly accept and support one another. I see Sugar Gamers being a blueprint for inclusive gaming organizations nationally if not globally- ushering a new era of creative game development and storytelling.
What was your opinion of other women gaming organizations and should there be more?
I love to see other women gaming organizations. I want there to be as many as it takes to achieve equity in the videogame industry. It’s my hope that one day soon- we won’t need to intentionally do this sort of thing and we can all feel comfortable in diverse and inclusive environments that bring everyone together over our love of games.
What advice do you have for young girls out there who want to be a professional streamer and gamer?
The best games you play, and master are often challenging. That’s the same for traversing a career in the gaming industry. Bravery, confidence, and tenaciousness will create the pathway to success, even when there are difficulties to overcome.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I’m almost certain my first arcade game was Pacman, and the game I got to play at home was original Gameboy’s Tetris.
I remember thinking to myself- this looks fun and being enraged when loosing but compelled to keep trying to win. It was my first understanding of what it meant to be a gamer.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Gaming and play are symbolic simulations of what we do in life. Though when I look back at the old games I played- they were just as immersive (At the time) as the new games I play today despite the evolution of technology and graphics. I do feel like older games experimented a bit more and could be more creatively ambitious.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Absolutely not! I didn’t dream that big- I still can’t believe I’m on a trading card.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
Chicago’s NAMCO Studios in July of 2011
What was your reaction when you were told you were inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame for the Community Action Award?
I was surprised, humbled, and honored. I was very pleased to know achievements aren’t just about competition and it could be about having positive social impact.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
I would describe Walter Day as Noble. He is a man of high moral principles and ideals. He embodies rare and admirable characteristics. Walter is simply an amazing human being.
What did you want to be when you grew up as a kid?
I wanted to be a teacher. In some ways- I still do, Just not in the traditional since.
What are some future products you are working on that you can discuss?
Im working on the Tabletop RPG https://www.projectviolacea.com/ . It’s my goals with the help of my team to turn this into a book and video game as well.
What does it take to be a cultural leader in the gaming industry?
A passion beyond monetary gain, commitment, authenticity, and little insanity.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
This has always been a strange topic. There are many factors that can lead to individuals being violent (home life, mental health, experiences with abuse, etc). I’m not saying that violent games aren’t problematic, but I don’t believe violent games could ever be the only factor in violent behavior. The fact that people would even look at games solely and deconstruct American culture as a whole is really weird.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I am introverted, so I love immersing myself in solo adventures. But I do enjoy couch co-ops tremendously- though they make less of them.
Which company makes the best games and why?
That’s a hard one. My favorite games come from Edios and Bioware though. There are so many gaming studios that collaborate and intermingle- it’s hard to pinpoint just one.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Of course, I learned how to be tenacious. I learned how to level up through practice. I learned problem solving, and critical thinking. But best of all- I learned that I can save the world.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely- There are so many different types of games out there. There are games made specifically for stress release. Those aren’t the games we hear about in mainstream media, but they definitely exist.
How much have you grown as a gamer and are you happy with the success of female and male gamers today?
I’ve grown and I’m continuing to grow. I don’t think I will ever stop growing as a gamer. I am pleased to see the success of the gaming industry as a whole- and I feel like we are still just getting started. There is so much work for all of us to do.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Sometimes. I did enjoy it when Tomb Raider Debuted.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Lara Croft for sure! Lara Croft was catalyst for more female leads in video games. She represented and redefined gender in video games by providing a different perspective of what a female character could do. She is not only beautiful, but strong, independent, brave, and curious. All things traits I admire!
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
My Favorite games have always been action adventure and survival horror. Tomb Raider, Dead space, BioShock.
More granularly – I love Immersive Sims
(Immersive sims by definition allow for multiple approaches, and typically incorporate elements of multiple genres, including role-playing games, stealth, first-person shooters, platform games and survival horror.)
Games Deus Ex and Dishonored. They are brilliant games that I wish they made more of.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Jace Hall Signature Series 4 Player 55" LED Ultimate Video Arcade Game MAME(TM) - This unit is capable of playing 30,000+ arcade and home console games all from one machine!! I got to play experience this one with Alicia Marie Body and it was an awesome time! My dream Home would have an updated version of this.