“What it Feels Like to Play Video Games as a Woman” by Holly Walrath

Screenshot 2018-10-02 at 8.11.12 PM

There’s a synesthesia of hand to controller and my fingers don’t need to be told what to do, what to write, what to hold, when to stop or go. They hold themselves and I can’t even feel them. My hands are not in this body, they are in the dark world, cutting fresh grass with the sword from the stone, they are not of me but of my shadow self. This self follows me to burnt-out saloons and desert plains, to volcanos and underwater caverns, to places I can only find by pressing start.

And I don’t want to pause, I don’t want to save, I just want to play through until I die and am reborn again. This is not escape from this world into the next, it is not escape from myself but instead into myself because I am good. Here I am genderless, I am wholly separated from the imperfections of my body, only controlled by my hands and they are more sensitive, more powerful than any man can imagine.

Who is the person I have inserted into the screen, the person who is a link to the past, a fox pilot, a murder victim, a superhero, an assassin, all of the characters still living inside with my other self. I see them, I could reach out and touch their faces pixels breaking, mosaic love. Even the most imperfect character has meaning. Have you ever flown? Swum under water without needing to breathe?

This is the quiet space where the world can never follow me, puzzle me, cage me into fragments of me through the tiniest movements. I make love to you on a bed of heather and don’t ask me where the dragon comes in.






Holly Lyn Walrath’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Luna Station Quarterly, Liminality, and elsewhere. Her chapbook of words and images, Glimmerglass Girl, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2018. She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. She is a freelance editor and host of The Weird Circular, an e-newsletter for writers containing submission calls and writing prompts. You can find her canoeing the bayou in Seabrook, Texas, on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath, or at www.hlwalrath.com.



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