You can draw a deep breath of relief -– Playboy Gamer Next Door and Miss October 2012 Pamela Horton is the real deal. "I'm not your typical Playmate," she confessed during a phone interview with WoW Insider. "I get told that a lot: 'You're different. You're not like other Playmates.' Because I'm not materialistic or I don't dress up all fancy and I don't know any designer names or anything like that. If you give me $300, I'm going to go to GameStop."
Even so, it's not too often that Horton gets a chance to talk gaming during an interview. "This will be like my third interview anywhere related to WoW," she said. "Most of the time, people just want to talk about my being a Playmate and how I got there and what Hef's like." But all that could be about to change. Thanks to her years playing video games, the astute young Gamer Next Door is helping Playboy reach markets and engage content for which it's never before had a suitably games-savvy ambassador.
Main character Moosecat, tauren feral druid
Realm Trollbane (US-Horde)
WoW Insider: So Moosecat is your only character at max level this time around. What's changed for you since the last expansion?
Pamela Horton: I used to be one of the people who was into the grind and had six alts at 85. This time around, I've been taking my leisurely time to enjoy the aspects of Mists of Pandaria. I don't have time to raid anymore, which sucks, because I don't get to see all that content.
Aww. So is it your travel schedule that blocks out raiding?
Sometimes I don't know if I'll work tomorrow. I could get a call from Playboy and be like "Hey, we need you at the mansion for this event" after I'd already committed to raiding –- and saying that I have to raid in World of Warcraft isn't exactly a legitimate reason to miss work. So there's a lot of last-minute travel.
And then when I am traveling and have the evening time, a lot of hotel internet's not that reliable. When I was in Iceland, I couldn't connect to the servers for either World of Warcraft or League of Legends. It sucks, because that's what I brought to pass my time at night but I couldn't do it because of the ISP restrictions on the internet at the hotel.
Your website mentions your college studies. You were studying art therapy then, but things are on a very different track today, isn't that right?
When I was in high school, I was in a show choir, and the lady who choreographed the show choir in high school was actually a music director at a private Catholic college. She told us that if we joined her choir, we'd have a full-ride scholarship. So of course I'm not going to turn down a full-ride scholarship at a private school, so I went through with that.
Then shortly before my first semester of my sophomore year, the financial recession hit in 2008 and 2009, and a couple of the banks backing the scholarships fell through. They hit bankruptcy. So I was left with a $16,000 bill. I had to pay for the whole year, and I couldn't come up with that money in two weeks, so I haven't been able to go back to school since.
And so Playboy has given you a solid opportunity to push into gaming.
Yeah! I'm putting feelers out in all the aspects of the opportunities they're giving me. Right now, my main focus is the gaming because I'm their Gamer Next Door and because of that, I've had opportunities to meet game developers at SEGA, Capcom, Riot, and Blizzard especially. It's done nothing but motivate me. ... I have access to different parts of game development now and see environment artists and people who work on quests, the character designers, and all these creative aspects are very, very interesting to me.
If I choose to go into game development, I don't want to pick something that will become menial work to me. I want it to be something I can be passionate about. I found that as an artist, I can actually lose a little of the motivator behind drawing when I have to do it constantly and every day. I don't know if that's something I'll grow out of or it's just maybe I want to work in environment or 3D or animation. I'm kind of like a clean slate right now, and I want to see what I want to start painting before I finish the painting.
Right! Because you're still young – you just had a birthday, didn't you?
Yeah! I just turned 25 on May 4th.
Plenty of time to make decisions!
(laughs) You never know ...
As a Playboy Gamer Next Door, you've had to do reviews and get knowledgeable about and play games and genres that you haven't necessarily played before. What's that been like?
Especially first-person shooters. I haven't had a good time getting into first-person shooters, mainly because the big reason that people play first-person shooters, the majority of them, is the co-op or the online playing, and people are just mean. I'm not incredibly violent, and shooting someone in the head to me isn't like ... That's too real.
And also guys are fairly mean to me. If they hear a girl's voice or see a girl's name, they're like "Get back in the kitchen" -- you know the kind of stuff that they say. It's just not fun to me.
But I've kind of opened myself up a little bit more to genres of games that I didn't normally enjoy mainly because I want to do my job to the best of my capabilities. I want to be able to review the game with fairness and represent it in a good way for these companies that want me to review it or help promote it. So it's not like they're twisting my arm here to make me play this game, but I'm just trying to be fair.
So how do you feel about your reception by gaming industry insiders and male gaming fans? Do you ever feel taken more excitedly or more lightly because of your Playboy affiliation?
You know, what's really funny is that when the issue first came out and I said that I liked video games, that's when the worst part was. That's when I had to prove myself more often than not. People [were always] trying to trivia me –- like every single gaming-related interview, the male interviewer would be like "Not that I don't believe you're a gamer, but ..." And then they'd ask me general gaming trivia like what was the first game ever in the arcade, just trying to catch me off guard and catch me as one of those "I'm just a pretty girl who says she likes video games for attention."
And I was like, "Honey child, I was a gamer before I was ever a pretty girl."
Tell us about some of the games, goodies, and events that have come your way as a Gamer Next Door.
[I covered] E3 for Gamer Next Door. I just started up this cool relationship with Razer. I filmed a documentary ... and when I went to go film, they just thought it was absolutely amazing that I was legit, that I'd proved myself and when asked a question, I knew the answer immediately, not twisting my hair and going (baby voice) "Umm, well, I like video games ..." (laughs) Because of that, Razor has helped supply me. They gave me a headset that day. They gave me a new Marauder keyboard. They want to make sure that I don't have to struggle when it comes to gaming hardware, which is awesome.
Not that I was ever taken care of growing up, but I didn't have all the latest gadgets and gizmos when I was younger. Even as a young adult, most of my wealth came from me being a Playmate. I came from a smaller-income family. This is where I grew up.
Sounds like you're ready to get the work done.
We're trying to re-establish Gamer Next Door. The old Gamer Next Door was basically just a review media outlet, where it's like "Hey, play this game," and "I played it; you should play it." And now we're doing conventions and we're trying to do cute topics that are outside what normally would have been covered by Gamer Next Door because they feel that I have the strength of the gamer to help propel the franchise.
Rob Hilburger [from media relations at Blizzard, formerly at Playboy] has always wanted a Playmate to be interested in gaming ... because it just solidifies the fact that anybody from any backdrop or gender or race or anything like that could be a gamer. Having a Playmate just solidifies that. The Playmate title itself is iconic.
Speaking of iconic, are you going to be at BlizzCon?
Of course I am!
There will certainly be a long line of WoW-playing fans looking for you there.
Most of the people know my character names in WoW and know where and how to find me even if they aren't on my friends list. I've made that public information.
Do you have many fans pop into your chat box just to say hi?
Oh, yeah, every time I sign on! When I do heroics, I post it on my Facebook and Twitter and say "Hey, does anybody want to run with me?" And then I'll get a couple more friend requests. And even people who added me a while ago will be like "Hey, how's it going?" ... just wanting to chit-chat with me.
The only reason that I've ever turned anybody down is I do not tolerate lack of sportsmanship. If you're going to be mean to your opponents, why am I going to hang out with you? And also if you get really perverse and ask me nasty questions. Just because I'm a Playmate doesn't mean I'm a lady of the night.
I'd say 99 percent of the people I interact with because I'm a Playmate and they want to interact with me have been totally cool, awesome, and nice, hardly ever disrespectful. One of my favorite things about life is meeting new people and making new friends, and Gamer Next Door and Playboy have made me new friends in gaming.
Find Pamela Horton in game at BattleTag KittyRawr#1334. Since her friends list capacity is not endless, she asks that your friend request include a brief greeting and something about yourself.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.