ENTER THE WOLVERINE
The Microsoft Store has only been in the Prudential Center for a month; the store hosts both planned and unplanned gaming sessions on each of their big-screen TVs every night. I found the store's event listings at meetup.com and registered to attend their Street Fighter X Tekken night.
I've played some SFXT before, but since I had been playing UMvC3 on my stick for a while by the time I went to the store, I bring my copy of that game along just in case I can convince anyone else to play it with me.
I lean against the doorway and watch people play for 10 minutes. While I loiter, no one asks if I need help or seems to notice me, but I don't mind this so much; I'd rather be ignored than stared down, and I enjoy watching the game. Finally, an employee asks me what I am doing there. I ask him in return if the store would consider organizing an Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 night.
Turns out, the game nights get dictated by corporate, he explains, so they don't even have copies of UMvC3 on hand. "If we did have a copy, you could play it," he says.
"What if I told you I had a copy right here?"
By now, the guys in the room have turned around. Several stare at me in bewilderment.
"Oh, shit," says one of the male players, "I bet she's a pro."
"I'm definitely not," I say, laughing. "I'm just not very good at Street Fighter X Tekken. I thought I might convince you guys to play this instead if I brought it."
"How did you even know this was happening?" someone asked. "We just saw the store and came in."
"Oh, I Googled around for fight nights, and this was one that I found," I said. The guys look at each other. I can't tell if they're impressed or freaked out. A little of both?
My game's title screen flashes over the TV. More guys walk into the back room with exclaims of interest.
"Marvel vs. Capcom? I love this game," says one of the newcomers. "You all play this game? You guys all have Xbox?"
One of the other guys points at me. "I only have a PS3, but she has an Xbox. This is her game."
The newcomer stares hard at me. "It's your game?"
Time to go through the motions. "Yes." "You play this game?" "Yes." "You play video games?" "Yes." "You have an Xbox?!" "Yes." "Whoa! You gotta give me your gamertag!" "No, thanks." "What? Why not? You have Xbox Live, right?" "I do, just . . . no, thanks."
The guy turns and walks right out of the store. He doesn't come back.
The guy who pointed at me says, "That was weird."
"It wasn't that unusual," I say. "Not for me."
"Oh, right," he says. "You're a girl who plays video games. And that's pretty weird." It's not a compliment. He says it with a hint of concern in his eyes, as though he's letting me know that I have a symptom of some larger, mysterious disorder.