Lifelong video gamer transforms virtual friendships into real world connections
by Patrick Scott Patterson
Originally published August 30, 2013
As the wide world of video gaming continues to grow, so do the number of people brought together by them. More and more generations than ever have grown up in a world where video games were always present, forming friendships through the interactive nature of gaming. In more recent years, this interaction has extended to online gaming and livestreaming websites such as TwitchTV, allowing lifelong gamers such as Ashleigh Nadeau to meet new video game fans from around the world.
"The first video game I ever played was Pac-Man on Atari," Nadeau recalled. "My father brought it home one day and played with me for hours."
Video gaming continued to be a family affair for Ashleigh, who first encountered the game she says most impacted her life in the late nineties.
"The very first PC game I ever played was Counter Strike back in 1999," she said. "My dad had played it for some time before I started. I used to sit and watch him, thinking the game was silly because all you did was run around and shoot people and couldn't regain your health. One day I asked him if I could play. He could never pry me away from the computer after that."
Continuing to play Counter Strike in the years that followed, Nadeau joined her family in online play on the game and eventually began to make friends through the game. In time, one of the people she encountered would become even more.
"In October 2008 I met someone who would later become my husband," she said. "We were both head administrators in an old community and and after meeting in March 2009 we became a couple. He lived in Maine while I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia. We were married on October 24, 2010. Without gaming I wouldn't have met him and that's something I will always be thankful for."
Ashleigh's video game adventures would continue into livestreaming in 2012, once again with Counter Strike leading the way.
"I was on an all-female Counter Strike: Source team and thought it might be a cool idea to bring perspective of how an all-female team works," she stated. "For me live streaming has been an awesome outlet for me to meet some truly incredible people. I have formed friendships with a lot of people through live streaming, and with the help of the people watching made my way through gameplays of many different games."
As livestreaming continues to grow, even being integrated into the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, Nadeau states that broadcasting video game play can be a nervous experience at first but that the payoff is worth the initial jitters.
"As much as its sort of daunting to think of putting yourself out there like that, it's so worth it," she added. "In my opinion the interaction with other people is so much fun, and I say this on almost a daily basis to my stream but I would be truly lost sometimes without the help of the people hanging out with me. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there because you never know who you're going to have the chance to meet."
In addition to livestreams, Nadeau also does reviews and promotion for Geared4Gaming.com and charity work, recently taking part in a livestream that raised more than $10,000 for the PewDiePie Charity: Water Campaign, a fundraiser that aims to provide clean drinking water for people in developing nations. She also states that she envisions herself owning a business that could allow for others to experience the same social aspects of video game culture as she has.
"I have always really wanted to own a LAN cafe," she noted. "I think this stems from back in the day when I used to have to share my computer with my family I used to spend a lot of time at the local LAN cares and really loved the atmosphere. I'm a super people person and love talking and helping people with whatever I can."
Ashleigh's livestreaming can be watched at www.twitch.tv/gnarcandy. Her adventures can also be followed on Twitter @GN4Rcandy.