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How Gaming Icons Like Mario, Sega, and Mortal Kombat Supercharged One Woman’s Everyday Life

How Gaming Icons Like Mario, Sega, and Mortal Kombat Supercharged One Woman’s Everyday Life

Video games have become more than just a pastime; they’re portals to alternate realities, challenges, and even self-discovery. For many, including Sharon Awunor, a fashion designer and illustrator, the pixelated adventures of Mario, the high-speed thrills of Sega, and the visceral combat of Mortal Kombat weren’t just entertainment—they were catalysts that shaped her thinking abilities and transformed her mundane daily activities into feats of skill and strategy.

Stick with us on a journey of nostalgia and empowerment as we explore how these iconic games formed a part of Sharon’s growth.

Can you tell us more about your earliest memories of playing video games and how they made you feel?

(Smiling) I’m smiling because it was one of my best times growing up and very difficult to forget all those fond memories. I was introduced to games by my big brother Oswald and I’ll forever be grateful. My first game was Mortal Kombat which challenged me because I didn’t know anything about it and felt very frustrated when I played because I was always losing to my brother or the computer at the time (now AI). I decided to learn it from friends and watch them play day by day. My brother opened a gaming center with just one box at home. People trekked our home to play games and it got real. Now I realized there was a whole new family of game lovers and I couldn’t stop. Perhaps I would have loved dolls if I had grown up amongst sisters but my story was different.  My two big brothers influenced my choices a lot.

Sharon Awunor

What was it about Sega games, in particular, that captivated you and helped you develop critical thinking skills?

The versatility with which it was programmed.  The varieties with which it came with and having to decide which cartridge to install and play and how challenging and fun it was. I believe I hadn’t encountered anything of that sort in my life at the time and felt new, fresh and I also had some sense of belonging anytime it was being played as compared to Nintendo which came in a more personal form.

In your experience, how did Mortal Kombat contribute to your ability to pay attention to details and make strategic decisions?

Hahahaha…I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m laughing. To have a particular kick in Mortal Kombat, there are formulated alphabets for that. We (gamers) had to learn these to be able to enjoy playing and mind you, these were the procedures to enjoy the game.  So now tell me how this beautiful thing won’t contribute to any part of life and in decision-making. Typical example; when I have to share a business idea with someone, I don’t want to appear as unprepared so I play everything in my mind to be sure not to get a NO or get disappointed.  Not disputing the fact that these things are part of life. Just as you don’t want to die repeatedly in playing games you don’t want to lose money and opportunities in businesses as well.

You mentioned that Sonic the Hedgehog helped you manage chaos and make good judgments. Can you share a real-life example where this skill was particularly useful?

Day in and out we are faced with lots of challenges and the hurdles some people go through are enormous. Sonic is a very fast character and it’s limitless in everything it does. I had lots of work to do and I was under lots of pressure. Multitasking on speed came very naturally to me. In a way I found myself relaxed through it most of the time. I only get worked up when I don’t allow myself to take it all in.

How did the driving app you discovered on the Play Store enhance your professional driving career, and what were some key lessons you learned from it?

I’ve always wanted to learn how to drive but circumstances didn’t allow it. So having to do that on the app gave me everything. The games taught me how to start and move a car and so I experimented with it on my big brother’s car and he asked how I did it and so I told him about the app. The main thing it helped me with was parking. Key lessons I’d say were angles to watch out for when parking and I work them out even though I’m terrible in physics and math. It comes to me like a subconscious thing. It just works for me.

What are some common misconceptions about gaming that you’ve encountered, and how has your personal experience challenged these beliefs?

I heard people say games are for lazy and dumb people. I was also told not to play too much because it’s a thief of time. My personal experience changed most of these narratives. A typical example was when Temple Run Came out. Those who claimed games were for lazy and dumb people ended up playing more than I did. Later they confessed it helped them approach things differently as compared to before. I think there must be something connected to the brain that makes us react differently to things around us after playing many times. On the positive side though.

As a lifelong gamer, what advice would you give to parents who are concerned about their children’s gaming habits and the impact on their development?

This has to be amplified for the world to hear. Parents should allow their children to play the right games that will stimulate the brain’s thinking and operational capacity. They can play with them, preferably, or draw a timetable for them. Gaming helps these children, especially after their formative stage. It can even transcend into helping them trade when things are done the right way. These things go hand in hand. Just find the right tools through research. How do you see the future of gaming evolving, and what potential benefits do you think it can offer to individuals in terms of skill development and personal growth?

A lot is about to change now that programmers are using the AI program to better the ones we have now. A time is coming when most of these skilled-owned businesses won’t need to pay so much money for tuition to learn a trade or a profession. These games have transformed people’s lives and I hope they evolve and make the experience much better.

Can you share a specific moment or accomplishment in your life that you attribute to the skills and experiences you gained through gaming?

My speed and attention to detail when I’m working have been one of my greatest strengths. These games are wonderful and must not be taken for granted. They are very essential to personal growth. One can agree to disagree but it’s the truth.

What is your favorite game to play now, and how does it contribute to your ongoing journey of self-improvement and learning?

I love Candy Crush, solitaire, Water Puzzle, Lumosity, and a few as well. I had a very terrible health challenge and coming out of it, I had to play certain games to help stimulate my brain activities.  I am working on myself and these games help to relax me. I want a quiet and meaningful life with things around me working in Trinity as well. So I believe these games are working for now. I hope I get introduced to new ones that will help me. Maybe your readers can recommend some for me. Just to name a few I like racing, investigative, and puzzle types of games. These challenge me a lot in diverse ways I should say.

How has your passion for gaming influenced your relationships and connections with others who share this interest?

I love this question so much. I downloaded a game for my mum who’s 70 plus and we play together and I cherish this so much. She had never been a fan of games until I introduced her to it. It has improved her memory level and she’s always thanking me for introducing her to these games. Her favorite is the water puzzle Being a gamer gives you a family and a sense of belonging and it’s such a great feeling especially when you meet at a space with them (gamers). It’s like a family reunion. One beautiful thing is they’re quick to teach or assist you when you can’t find your bearings. It’s simply fun.

In what ways do you think the gaming industry can further promote the positive aspects of gaming, such as skill development and personal growth?

There should be frequent tournaments with attractive rewards. It should be in an open and safe space to draw a lot of attention. Workshops should be organized often on how some of these skilled development games can be of great use to people. Then afterward the mindset of people will change about games.

What challenges have you faced in pursuing your love for gaming and trying to change people’s misconceptions about it?

I wasn’t taken seriously whenever I mentioned I played games even though I tried to sometimes tell them the great things I have benefitted from. I’m looked at with certain specs (figure of speech) Some even go as far as asking me what I want to do with my life aside from talking about games.

What role do you believe gaming can play in fostering empathy and understanding between people from diverse backgrounds and cultures

FAREEDA is one of my best and favorite programmers and based on her beliefs she created a character that I love so much. Gaming has lots of effects or should I say role to play in bridging the gap in diverse backgrounds and cultures. I think more games from all over the world should one with bits and pieces of people’s culture so while playing I would be learning as well.

How do you envision leveraging your personal experiences and insights to inspire others to embrace gaming as a means of personal growth and development?

My journey in the gaming world has been tremendous and developed me in many ways I couldn’t comprehend. With that said I believe allowing yourself to have some experiences and great results could go a long way for everyone. Give yourself a chance! The game world is beautiful and gives others opportunities to explore things to help develop themselves. It helped me a great deal and hope my story changes something for you.