Vanessa has been a gamer since the age of five. Her hard work paid off huge when she was the first one to be picked for team Optx by the Championship Gaming Series. The surprise came to all being that the first pick was a female. In addition to CGS, she has also appeared in the WCG Ultimate Gamer Series on the Syfy channel. Self described as dressing kind of trashy but being kind of classy, she is best known for her mad skills in DOA. She is one gamer you want to make sure you stay on her good side. I had a chance to catch up with Vii at the A-kon22 convention and here is my interview with her.
Me: How often do you practice and how much of that is recreational?
Vii: I practice about at least 4 hrs a day if I can. It’s a little bit of both. If I have like, a certain combo I have to practice, I have to perfect that the best I can, but most of my practice comes from just playing the game. DOA is kind of instinct based a lot because it’s a mind game, and fighting another player is like, the best practice you can get.
Me: What games do you find yourself playing lately?
Vii: I’ve been playing, of course, DOA: Dimensions, which just came out recently. I’ve also been playing, um, I play MVC3 just for fun, but it doesn’t have the same feel that MVC2 has. I was so excited for MVC 3 because I was such a fan of playing MVC2; I was pretty decent playing with the lower tier characters. MVC 3 came out and it’s like what’s going on here! There are little things that I’m still playing like Dead Rising 2; that’s always one of my favorite games and even just like, a little XBLA. I’ve been getting into Uno again. I love Uno, especially the Cameo deck…that’s probably my favorite deck.
Me: What plans do you have for the future?
Vii: I kind of go by whatever tournament is coming up next and I always look to try to make it here in Dallas, I love supporting the Dallas scene, I like supporting A-kon. I’ve been here for about…it’s my third year here now. I have always tried to at least make it here and any other event that DOA will be headliner. I always love to support when I can. There are times when I can’t, but I do as much as possible.
Me: Are you participating in any tournaments this weekend?
Vii: YES! We are going to be playing DOA 4 and DOA: Dimensions. I’m kind of rusty! So, I’m kind of scared.
Me: How does it feel to be in the industry?
Vii: It’s been an amazing experience, I never thought that playing games would ever escalate to the level that it has. But I’ve been on two television shows, multiple tournaments. I’ve been around the world; I’ve been to Mexico, Japan, Canada, and almost every state here in the U.S. just for playing DOA 4, and the DOA series in general. I am very grateful for all the opportunities that have been given to me and I would have never imagined when I was a child, that I would be doing this kind of stuff just for playing games.
Me: What titles are you looking forward to?
Vii: I’m looking forward to Ninja Gaiden 3, a new installment of DOA possibly??? I want to try out Street Fighter x Tekken just to see how it works out. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City! Because I love Resident Evil! It looked really neat, I saw it at E3, I really wanted to play it but the lines were so long, I didn’t want to wait…I decided to walk around and come back, but I didn’t get to try anything. But it was awesome just seeing it being played.
Me: How did you feel when you were drafted?
Vii: It was definitely a high. You’ve been practicing so long for this moment and when it comes and they call your name, it was,”WOW! Oh my God! I get to do this now, this is what I am going to be doing for the whole summer and I am part of a video game league.” It was just… I couldn’t… I was just so happy, I was just holding up my jersey. It was this ugly green color but I was just so happy and hugging it; this thing is so ugly, but I LOVE IT!
Me: How does it feel being a female in the gaming world? Do you find yourself fitting in?
Vii: The thing about it, it’s probably easier for a girl to say like, “Hey! I play video games all the time,” it’s just so rare to hear a woman is just into playing games. So I’ve never had the issue of “Oh, you’re such a loser, why don’t you stop playing video games?” But you know, I think it’s just gaming is so mainstream these days that almost everybody plays games. You would talk to the guy from work and he would be ” Oh, did you try the new Call of Duty?! Aw, man I bet I could beat you so bad!” And he is all tatted up and a really muscular guy and you would never expect it. I think gaming has gotten to a level where it’s just, everybody wants to play these games, everybody likes entertainment so they love to play and talk about games. I always feel like the people that don’t play games are now the outcasts because they don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. Its more of a flip-side now, I have yet to meet someone that hasn’t heard of Nintendo or Xbox. They at least have one console, it doesn’t even have to be this generation, like Dreamcast or even a Gameboyn somebody in some way, or form has some sort of video game console.
Me: What’s your preference? Arcade stick? Controller?
Vii: I’ve always preferred the controller because I’ve used it so much for everything. I think the arcade stick is better for certain games like Street Fighter or Marvel because for the inputs you need an easier access and it’s a better layout; I think with certain games you HAVE to use the stick. There’s also those games where the game pad works better. It all really depends on the D-pad, if your D-pad sucks you’re going to get raped, no other way around that.
Me: How long did it take before you started making a name for yourself?
Vii: The thing is that when I was playing, it was always recreational, but I played it so much, so many hours out of the day. I remember playing DOA when I was a freshman in high school, maybe even a little bit before that. It’s been a long time; 10 years maybe, let’s see I’m 24 going on 25. I would come home from school and I would play it until bedtime, play it before school and sometime I would ditch school just to play DOA. You eventually get pretty good after playing it that much, and then eventually it came to DOA online. My brother was more excited than me and I was kind of scared, I said, ” I wonder how good I really am” and he said, ” Do it! I want to see you beat all these people.” He used to be the main person I would play with…he eventually got tired of playing me and would say, ” You cheat at this game, you play it too much.” He was sort of my spectator/coach when I had my first match and I won. He would tell me which room to go in and that I had to beat all these people. Then eventually, I said I want to see how I really do outside of this. There were some tournaments and the scene was getting bigger so I decided to see how I would do. Things just started lining up from there.
Vii: There is nothing that compares to saying you got third in a tournament versus saying oh, I won the tournament and you actually have the little trophy with the prize and everything. It’s just like the ultimate accomplishment of just winning. You put all this time and effort into this and you got the payoff. It’s that feeling you can’t describe, you’re just so proud of yourself at that moment and you feel like you can win every single tournament from then on, that’s not the case, but it’s just the feeling that you get.
Me: How does your family feel about this?
Vii: Well, my mother at first would hide parts of my Xbox so that I wouldn’t skip school and I would stop playing this game. Then she was starting to see where the gaming stuff was going and she was like, oh my God, I can’t believe this is what you used to do to stop studying! It actually paid off somewhat and now she is always asking, “Are you practicing? That kick is not working.” She tries to put in her own input that is just completely wrong. Also, she will say things like “Stop blocking, why are just standing there?” Of course, I’m not going to get into it because it would go right over her head, but it’s just funny. It’s really cute when they start saying things like “Just keep kicking them in the head, you always do that and it always works” and I will reply with ” Ok, Mama, I will put more kicks in there for you.”
Me: Did you ever have any other dreams besides becoming a professional gamer?
Vii: You know, I never really planned for this. When I was younger I always loved playing video games and I never dreamed of THIS because I never really knew how big THIS would be. I mean, you would never really think that gaming would go to the level that it was in the past couple of years. It’s been up and down. There was that professional gaming league and the economy took a downturn right when it was about to get bigger which was completely bad timing on that point, but there is still MLG and all sorts of tournaments. I am so excited that companies are getting in touch with the community. For instance, Tecmo itself right now is looking for input and everything and I thinks it’s amazing that companies are going to that level to interact with the fans and the community and getting their input for what future games should be or what their opinions are on what other games they should work on. It’s just amazing to see that they would go that far to cater to fans.
Me: How did you feel going from traveling the world gaming to a part-time job?
Vii: It was not fun. The thing about CGS was that you were paid to do something you love. You would go a couple of months for the season and on the off seasons, you would take a pay decrease but you still had a decent amount of money every month. Then everything came crashing down and that’s where the back up plan came into play, those that had a back up plan. As for those with no back up plan and no job, it was just like going back to the real world. I was like, “what do I do with work that’s not gaming?” So a lot of people went to Gamestop. You kind of have to get use to it. I wasn’t use to being in an office for eight hours again. I took two years of doing solely gaming. I am a big nap person, I remember the first day on the job, I was there for eight hours and I remember thinking, “Oh God, how am I going to stay here for eight hours.” Clocking about six hours in, I was starting to doze off and my co-workers were asking, “What are you doing?” It’s a pattern. You get use to it. I still reminisce on the days when I was traveling state to state competing and now its just stamping and filing papers. It’s not that fun. Hopefully, things pick up in the future and gaming picks up and goes to the level that I want to be. No more news stories about, “Oh, let’s blame Grand Theft Auto for these murders.” I get tired of seeing that, I mean, games aren’t responsible, it’s the people playing them. It’s a great industry; I love playing games and being associated with gaming.
Vii: Oooh, that’s a hard one… let me think… man, there are so many. If I had to choose, it would be Chris Redfield in general. I have always liked him and for a while there, it was Leon, but when 5 came out it was like “Damn! It’s like that?” Favorite game of all time would have to be DOA 2.
Me: Any last words?
Vii: If anyone is in the Akon22 area, I definitely want to see some fresh faces for DOA or even just the gaming room. Enter whatever tournament you want, just have fun. I want to see that whole room packed shoulder to shoulder. I want fighting games to get more support; it’s still not at the same level as shooters.
Me: Thanks once again Vanessa for your time and allowing us to have a better insight of you.
Check out Vii on the web: