For this week’s chronicle of our weekend gaming aspirations, I rang up Ellie Gibson, the associate features editor at Eurogamer and a host of the world-beatingly popular Scummy Mummies podcast. Ellie has had trouble carving out time for her own game passions lately, as her 2-year-old son, Charlie, has learned to hoard her iPad for himself. As always, share your gaming plans in the comments.
John Teti: What are you playing this weekend?
Ellie Gibson: This weekend, I’m playing whatever I can entertain my child with. He’s 2 1/2 now, and he’s capable of not only using the iPad but also wrestling it away from me physically. And I’m too tired to get it back. So Charlie’s favorite games are—well, we only download the free ones because he’s 2 1/2, what does he know, and we’re very tight. There’s one called Nose Doctor!. This is where you have to pluck bogies—do you say “bogies” in America? You say “boo-gers,” don’t you?
JT: Boogers, yeah.
EG: Well, you have to pluck the bogies out of the nose with tweezers, and then you have to shave the hairs. It is the most revolting thing I’ve ever seen apart from what I actually have to pull out of Charlie’s nose on a daily basis.
JT: You have to shave the hairs?
EG: Yeah, you have to pluck the hairs because the bogies get stuck to the hairs, and it’s just disgusting. But you know, a typical day for me involves clearing up real-life bogies and actual feces, so what difference does it make, really? I don’t know why I’m so disgusted by it, when I think about it.
And at the other end of the spectrum, he enjoys—I think it’s called Disney Princess Puppies or something like that. [Ellie’s probably talking about Disney Princess Palace Pals—ed.] Basically, you’re in this palace, and you have to groom all the different puppies that belong to the Disney princesses. So, the Cinderella puppy looks a bit like Cinderella and, I don’t know, wears glass shoes or something. And you have to blow-dry their hair and wash them and scrub them. He thinks it’s amazing. He takes it very seriously. It’s the most boring thing I’ve ever seen, but he loves it.
JT: I like that you’re so open-minded about gender roles, though.
EG: Oh, absolutely. We’re very right on in this house. Well, to be honest with you, I am trying to make him gay. I’d quite like a gay son. Someone to gossip with, help me pick out outfits, you know.
JT: That would be great for you.
EG: Yeah, it would be brilliant, wouldn’t it? That’s what my gay best friend always says. “Yeah, my mum kind of knew I was gay that day I was helping her pick out an outfit for an evening out while talking about Diana Ross.” But anyway, I think it’s good for him to play all kinds of stuff. I especially encourage him to play cooking games because the sooner he can make me a tuna sandwich, the better.
JT: It sounds like you’re being dragged down to his level of games, and maybe you are not getting to play the games that you absolutely adore.
EG: The thing is, when you have a child—because it’s never patronizing when a parent begins a sentence to a non-parent with “when you have a child”—when you have a child, John, this is something you will understand. Everything is reduced to their level. I can’t listen to normal music any more. The only song he wants to listen to is “I Like To Move It” and not even the original Reel 2 Real version. He will only listen to the version that is in Madagascar 2, which is a cover of the original by Will.I.Am. To give you a sample lyric, “We don’t party because we’re bored. We party because we’re born to party.”
JT: What does that mean?
EG: I don’t know. It’s like T.S. Eliot to me. It means absolutely nothing. But he loves it, and it’s literally the only song he wants to listen to, ever. It’s the same with games. I got very excited, and I thought, “Right, it’s time to begin your gaming education proper.” So I sat him down in front of the Wii with the Virtual Console, and I booted up Super Mario World. “Right, off we go. You’ll love this. Very bright colors. Gorgeous music. Beautifully crafted environments. Very child-friendly. You’ll love it.” And he could not give less of a toss. He pressed the jump button I think about four times, then back to the iPad. Turns out Sleeping Beauty’s puppy needed—I don’t know. She peed in Sleeping Beauty’s shoes.
JT: Do you think it was the game itself or the fact that he had to use this controller? Maybe we’re old-fashioned in that we really like these controller games, but soon it’s going to be all touch.
EG: He loves a button, whether that’s a button on an elevator or the doorbell of a stranger or a big red button that says “Do not press unless there’s an emergency” on public transport. He loves a button, so I really thought he’d go for it, but I guess not.