With what I do with Gamers Against Bigotry, and with being a long time video game lover, I tend to use the phrase “the gaming community” a lot. Generally more than once a day. It’s a term we all toss around, and we generally use it to mean “everyone who plays video games.” But it used to mean more than that to me.

The gaming community used to mean the couple dozen or so friends who would pile into a room with four TVs, four Xboxes, 16 controllers, and far too little fresh air, for a sun-down to sun-up party we called a Halo Bash. We did this in high school on a regular basis (once per month when things were extra awesome), and these nights are some of my favorite memories from that time in my life.

It was all about the people there, the time we spent with each other, and for those somethingteen hours that was all that mattered. We played the same game the entire time, rotated controllers and teams, and played until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. I loved it. We all did.

In a lot of ways, it’s that experience that I want everyone to be able to have, and what I’m working towards with GAB: creating a more welcoming space in gaming in general, where everyone who wants to be involved feels invited.

This past weekend, for the last 30 hours or so, I’ve been experiencing that sense of video game community again, for the first time in years. James (GAB’s Director of Communications) and I were invited to Raleigh for the United Gamers Coalition 48-hour Gamerunning Marathon that is a benefit for GAB. It’s hosted by someone who truly¬†gets it, or at least has a similar idea to James and I what gaming is capable of. We’ve played a ton of games, spent time with people who were all strangers to me one day ago but I would now call friends, and just had a generally fantastic time. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this in such a powerful way, and I’m thankful to Adam for the reminder. I’m looking forward to the final 18 hours.

It is this that pops into my mind when I hear the phrase “the gaming community.” This is my gaming community. This is what I’m trying to protect, and working to share.