For many video game fans, the gaming waits until the end of the work day. For Plano, Texas resident Tiff Flaherty, video gaming is both her work and hobby. This veteran of the button pressing world not only continues to enjoy the video game world at home but also at work, as she manages two GameStop stores during the day.
“Managing two locations is a challenge, but one I wanted to at least try out,” Tiff said. “Right now I have an amazing staff at both of my stores that make it much easier than it should be.”
Well before her managerial days, Flaherty picked up a video game controller at a very young age.
“The same as a lot of kids, I had an original Nintendo Entertainment System when I was young,” she recalled. “I have fond memories of playing Mario over and over. When we upgraded to the Super Nintendo, Mario again ruled my world after Mario Paint. I would spend hours and hours making songs and creating art. This was my first interaction with any sort of digital art. It was amazing.”
While her family had stuck with the Nintendo brand through the early days, Tiff says there was one classic Nintendo system they didn’t latch on to.
“I never had a Game Boy,” she noted. “Instead my mom got me a Sega Game Gear instead, because that was in color. I laugh about it to this day.”
As Flaherty grew, so did the video game world and the technology within it, first including a trip into the world of the first PlayStation console.
“I have fond memories in the early days of PlayStation. Of course my friend had gotten one first. Every day after school I’d run over to her house so we could play hours of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Imagine that, early 90’s, two little girls just glued to the TV playing with this orange Bandicoot character. My parents finally bought me my own PlayStation and I was ecstatic. I loved drawing all of the characters and playing the games over and over. My Dad and I would play racing games together, Rally Cross and Jet Moto being some of our favorites. I had all of the Crash Bandicoots, Spyros, Croc. I never really got into the Final Fantasy though. Instead of I had Legend of Dragoon, which would forever be my favorite over any Final Fantasy game. I always hoped there would be a sequel.”
After a bit of a sabbatical from the video game world as she fell in love with art, Anime and Manga in her early teen years, another advance in video game technology brought Tiff back into the fold as it opened her up to a whole new world.
“I moved out of town after I graduated and my dad, who was in the Army, came back from Korea with this box. It was an Xbox with Halo 2,” she remembered. “Being in a new place I’d reverted to art and video games but this was new. It was online. My dad’s buddies still in Korea would send invites to games. I’d hear ‘Yo Flaherty!’ and would tell them it was me but that didn’t deter them. They were so happy to have me on their teams. It was amazing. I spent so many hours playing Halo 2. I fell in love with the story, even went back to play Halo 1. I was hooked.”
For some time, she says, Flaherty would stick with the Halo games, but eventually found more and more online games she enjoyed, moving into the Xbox 360 and Halo 3.
“Online gaming always blew my mind,” she added. “It makes games last longer and you get to share some great experiences with people you may never see. It’s what I play mainly even today.”
While at work managing two GameStop locations in the North Texas area, Tiff says she is grateful for the chances she has had working for the company and being part of something she enjoys.
“GameStop has given me many opportunities,” she said. “I started out as a holiday hire and worked my way up from the bottom. I was lucky enough to have amazing people right above me to recognize my need to be in higher positions. I always strive for the next level because my job is fun. Yeah sure, some days are awful, customers aren’t always nice, but I get to talk about games all day. That part is pretty rad and keeps me going through tough days. I’ve met so many people that I love through my job. I’ve learned the value of having an awesome leader and being one as well. You learn how to read people when you have to sell them things, which has come in handy in life.”
Flaherty also continues her love for art as the owner of art.by.tiff, her own side project and one she says she would someday like to have more time for.
“Being an artist, it’s always a struggle between gaming and art because they are both hobbies that can be very time consuming,” she noted. “It’s an ongoing internal struggle. Future goals are to be able to focus more on my artwork, which has started to combine my worlds of gaming and art.”
Tiff has also started to become a regular visitor to gaming and comic conventions across the country, meeting people and continuing to share her passions with others. She adds that doing so is important for everyone in the video game world.
“Getting out from behind the controller takes networking. Meeting new people and being outgoing is the way to get somewhere you want to be,” she added. “Ask questions! It’s even easier now because the internet is a HUGE part of the gaming world. It’s insane to see how fast streaming via Twitch has made a big difference in how kids view games now. There are so many ways to be involved.”
Tiff Flaherty’s adventures in the video gaming and art worlds can be followed on her Twitter @tifftoxic.