Social Marketing Manager, Xbox EMEA
What is the first video game you ever played?
I don’t actually remember the game, but I vividly remember the experience! It was Christmas 1984, I was 4 years old, and my family got our first home computer. It was an Acorn Electron and I was immediately drawn to it. I can even remember the scent of the keyboard! It seemed like this incredibly magical thing – suddenly I could control what was on the TV, and even though the graphics were very basic (possibly because they were very basic) it seemed to open up this whole new realm of imagination for me. When I wasn’t playing games I remember gazing for hours at the hand-drawn artwork on the cover of videogame magazines and the cassette tape cases of the time – it was basically love at first sight.
I thought about this a lot when I was introducing Fin to videogames. Kids these days are surrounded by games wherever they are – they are not strange, uncommon things any more. Therefore as parents I think we definitely have a responsibility to control the suitability of what our kids play, but also the quality of what they play. I want Fin to understand good games and bad games, what the difference is, and when to spot and appreciate those moments when a game manages to fire your imagination like those old Acorn Electron games did for me.
What is your favorite game of all time?
Tough one – I bet everyone says that! I have such love for the Sim City series, the Fallout series (since the PC originals), the original X-COM games and the reboots, Skyrim, and I definitely had a period where I went through a very British addiction to Football Manager. But in terms of happy memories and satisfaction from sheer number of hours spent playing, I think the Civilization series is my favourite of all time. I love the scale and ambition of the game. I love how it actually teaches you things as you play. And I love that as you build your Civilization you are writing your own story, your own history. I was delighted to find out that the Surface 3 I bought recently runs a really decent game of Civ V on the move!
There is another dimension to this since I had Fin though. The first game we properly played together was LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, and because of that it will always hold a unique and very special place in my heart. For him, it was the game that seemed to snap things into place for him. Suddenly he was able to use the controller properly and relate his inputs to the action on the screen. Playing co-op also helped his communication and things like colour recognition and problem solving. We finished the story together and still go back to it regularly – but we’re still only at 77% completion! In a way I hope we never get to 100%…
What do you do for fun when not playing video games?
When I’m not working I spend a lot of time with the wife and kids, running around for their activities and making sure we spend some good time together at weekends. We love going out to do activities, visiting local towns, going to the cinema together, nothing crazy. Personally I love running since it’s a great way for me to get out in the fresh air and clear my head with some peace and quiet, and I play football (soccer!) once a week with friends which is a good release too. At home Fin and I are both obsessed with LEGO too – we love collecting and building sets together, and some of my favourite memories with Fin are Sunday afternoons up in his bedroom just mucking about with a huge pile of bricks and minifigs. LEGO is ACE.
How do you balance gaming and family life?
Honestly, I have been very bad at balancing my gaming and family life, to the detriment of gaming! When you add work into the mix too, things get crazy. I love my job but it can be pretty mad at times and involves a lot of travel, so that plus kids plus wife plus real life has severly impacted my Xbox time over the past few years. I did notice that once Fin got to about 3 years old I started getting my evenings back and playing more games, but then we decided to have baby #2! I’ve found it quite difficult, but it’s nice when your kids get to the age that you can play games with, and I find it helps if you agree regular time with the wife that you’ll be playing games – like every Thursday once the kids are in bed I play Xbox for a few hours, or whatever. I think the key thing is to accept that those wonderful days of playing Fallout 3 in your pants for the whole weekend are gone, and it’s easier to accept that and move on!