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#GamerGrrls: Cosplayer Viva Valentina and the Power of D&D

#GamerGrrls: Cosplayer Viva Valentina and the Power of D&D

 

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D to those in the know) is enjoying a little bit of a spotlight lately. Stranger Things used D&D to explain major plot points, and it’s had cameos in shows from Community to Voltron. Still, D&D has a little bit of a rep with the uninitiated. Luckily, Viva Valentina professional nerd, cosplayer, and chess wizard is here to break down the appeal of Dungeons, Dragons, and Dice. (So many dice!) 

 

Viva Valentina in red with flowers
The beginning of a campaign is like the sweetness of summer – photographer: Chelsea Yarger @chel-seashell

 

Are you a Gamer Grrl?

 Yes! I play all kinds of games…video games, tabletop games, board games, card games, you name it. My first memory of gaming is coming down the stairs when I was 6 to a Nintendo and playing games with my big brother! 

 

Have you ever struggled with your identity in regards to being a gamer?

 I never considered myself a “gamer” until I met other gamers and started going to Conventions. Being around like minded people and realizing how much of my nerd appetite was fueled by games of all sorts allowed me to realize yeah, I’m a gamer. I do sometimes struggle with that identity because I’ll never be a first person shooter/mmo/twitch girl gamer… BUT I’ve come to accept that there are many types of games and I don’t have to play them all to prove I’m a “gamer” to anyone. 

 

 

Gotta go fast- photographer: Johnathan W. Cabrera @jonathan_w_cabrera

 

…there are many types of games and I don’t have to play them all to prove I’m a “gamer” to anyone. 

 

You’re stranded on a desert island with only one game – what do you pick and why?

I feel like this is a trick question….

Uno. No electricity needed and I can conquer my enemies with wild cards and draw 4s

 

I play and enjoy video games (and more). So I’m a gamer.

 

Fatality – photographer @coolsteel27

 

What is your proudest gamer moment?

 When I was a kid I would play Mortal Kombat with my friends outside and on console. I always wanted to be Kitana and in 2015 I finally cosplayed her and it felt like a childhood dream come true.

[Lately it’s] playing a D&D campaign consistently for 2 years with the same group.

What got you into this type of game?

 Fantasy and especially high fantasy is my first love. So D&D was an easy sell. Combine that with the drama of role playing and it’s just a good time. I think everyone should play D&D. Nerd identifying or not, just do your self and try it three times: once to see if you like it, twice even if you don’t, and a third time to make sure.

 

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered – photographer: Craig Lawrence @fightguyphoto

How has the way you played changed over time?

 I used to be an asshole…playing an asshole chaotic neutral not paying attention to my fellow players or plot hooks. But as I learned the rules and developed an emotional bond to my fellow players and this fictional character, I found more joy in collaborating within this shared experience with my party members than stabby stabby grabby grabby. I’ve met some of my best friends through playing D&D, forged bonds I never expected. And [I’ve also grown] in other ways, like developing skills of team building, collaboration, leadership, acting, and note taking. All coming naturally from just playing D&D.

Viva dressed as San Princes Mononoke
D&D helps players get in touch with their wild sides – photographer: @jmontagnaphotos cloak: Wayward Warrior Designs Dagger/Accessories: RPM 3D Printing

 

 I play a rogue and about a year into the current campaign I multiclassed into warlock. That moment was really pivotal in my character’s development not just in gaining new powers and skills but in the way our Dungeon Master led my selfish/asshole/criminal rogue into having a moment where she had to show mercy and compassion to the beast she had to fight to gain the new powers. My character becoming a better person was a turning point in how I started becoming a better player as well.

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What are some things to watch out for?

It’s fun, you can develop some actual life skills, you learn things about yourself and your friends. BUT watch out cause they never told me how addictive collecting dice could be….

 

 

I think any character you make in dnd (no matter how cookie cutter or unique you make them) has elements of your personality and life experience. It’s fun to play with those influences in character creation. for example, two characters I’ve made have backgrounds in the circus because I love the circus and might still one day run off and join one. 

 Whatever you like to play, always make sure you have awesome accessories and gaming gear! [I use] my favorite brands [like] Dragonshield for protection and HD dice for dice….always more dice.

 

Ella the Sky Huntress- an Argent Saga card modeled on brand ambassador Viva Valentina

What advice do you have for other Gamer Grrls?

 Don’t let gatekeepers intimidate you from trying new games, exploring new fandoms, jointing gaming communities, or enjoying the things you love. Everyone’s a noob at some point, don’t let that stop you.

Shine on!

 

Intrigued? Follow Viva Valentine on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! While you’re at it, check out our Quirktastic beginner’s guide to D&D!

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