Gaming, Geek Culture

Aya Ezmaria: The gamer as cosplayer and storyteller

Aya Ezmaria cosplaying Black Widow from "Avengers: Endgame". Image credit: Jay Tablante
Aya Ezmaria cosplaying Black Widow from “Avengers: Endgame”. Image credit: Jay Tablante

It all started with Duck Hunt for gamer, cosplayer, and streamer-storyteller Aya Ezmaria. Yes, the Family Computer (released in the US as the Nintendo Entertainment System) video game.

“Our dad introduced us to the gaming world. As far as I can remember, the first game I ever played was Duck Hunt on the Family Computer complete with the shotgun,” Aya told Digital Life Asia.

From Duck Hunt to Counter-Strike

Airsoft loadout (Team RedWing) because Aya Ezmaria also shoots in real life.
Airsoft loadout (Team RedWing) because Aya Ezmaria also shoots in real life.

Aya’s skills with the shotgun probably came in handy years later when she joined her all-girl clan Anarchy on the multiplayer first-person shooter Counter-Strike.

“Haha! I’m not sure where you got this li’l bit of info. But we used to have an all-girl clan in CS 1.3. I was the sniper of the team and we would join tournaments and involve ourselves in pustahan (bets) against the boys,” she said.

What does Aya like most about gaming?

“The best part of playing is putting yourself in the game world’s reality. Getting immersed in the story and seeing things from the character’s perspective. One of the benefits is unwinding and taking your mind off things for a while, of course, but I love how it also helps you become more strategic when it comes to decision making,” Aya said.

Asked what her favorite game of all time is, Aya replied: “This is a tough one, but I love the Final Fantasy series, most especially Final Fantasy IX. It has been very dear to my heart, along with Beyond: Two Souls.

“I see Beyond: Two Souls as an underrated game. What people don’t know is besides offering such unique gameplay, it is also packed with lessons that make you think about your life in general.”

Why gaming matters

Spider-Gwen cosplay. Image credit: Rory Rebustes
Spider-Gwen cosplay. Image credit: Rory Rebustes

What are Aya’s three most memorable gaming experiences? She said that this would actually consist of the three most memorable games for her:

  1. Azure Dreams. My brother would watch me whenever I play.”
  2. Legend of Legaia. I would watch my sister play until she finishes it.
  3. Dota 2. Ever since we had a computer shop, my siblings and I would get hooked playing with our customers every day to the point of developing solid friendships.”
Her gaming setup -- Helen. Fruits of streaming.
Her gaming setup — Helen. Fruits of streaming.

Gaming has also helped Aya cope with the COVID-19 and community quarantine.

“I’ve been into gaming since my childhood days, so being quarantined is nothing really new for me. Yes, sure, I was the type that needed to go out and see the world, but maybe as I aged I started to appreciate the simple things. This includes me just binging a series at home and completing a game. And streaming also gave me something to focus on,” she said.

Cosplay and streaming

Aya Ezmaria as Tomb Raider's Lara Croft. Image credit: Jovi Claire
Aya Ezmaria as Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft. Image credit: Jovi Claire

In 2014, Aya also entered the world of cosplay. What does she love most about cosplaying?

“I love the anticipation of how the output would look like from a photoshoot, or that ecstatic feeling whenever someone recognizes your cosplay because you’ve brought them to life for them,” she said.

Aya has cosplayed many different characters, so she said it’s hard for her to say which cosplay is her favorite.

“There are tons and I honestly don’t know where to start. Lemme just say that my faves are: Spider-Gwen, Slave Leia, Quiet from MGSV (Metal Gear Solid V), Lara Croft, Supergirl, and Black Widow. These are characters that when summed up would define my personality as a whole,” she said.

Getting ready to start her stream.

When did Aya start streaming her games, and what does she love most about being a streamer?

“I started during the last quarter of 2018. Besides my genuine passion for games, I get to improve my hosting skills each time I stream. But, most of all, the privilege of engaging and connecting with people and just basically keeping them company,” she said.

As anyone who has watched Aya streaming on Twitch can attest to, she is a very engaging storyteller. Watching her play and hearing her narrate the action makes the stream a very immersive experience.

Just watch out for the patented Aya Ezmaria screams.