What Are You Playing This Weekend?

What Are You Playing This Weekend?: The Gameological Moms

The Gameological Moms

Our mothers take the spotlight to share their gaming passions.

By Anthony John Agnello, Ellie Gibson, Steve Heisler, Scott Jones, Joe Keiser, Gus Mastrapa, Samantha Nelson, John Teti, Drew Toal, and Elise Vogel • May 11, 2012

In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re changing things up this week. Gameological contributors called up their moms and asked them what they’re playing. We got a diverse range of answers. Here’s what they had to say.


Ray Gibson
interviewed by Ellie Gibson

Ray Gibson with Ellie

The Gameological Society: Hello, Mum. What are you playing this weekend?

Ray Gibson: I have been playing Scrabble, and Sudoku, and doing the Guardian crossword, which I love. I believe strongly that people should play games. It’s an escape route, and it brings my blood pressure down. It is enjoyable, it keeps your mind sharp, and I just enjoy the tussle of it. 

Gameological: Did you worry about the amount of video games I played when I was growing up?

Gibson: To some extent, but you also read books and did a lot of other things. So I didn’t worry that much. But I do remember saying to you, quite often, “Ellie, you will never get anywhere in life playing computer games.”

Gameological: How right you were.

Gibson: And here you are, a writing-editor person for computer online games…thingies. Videos.

Gameological: You don’t actually know what I do for a living, do you?

Gibson: No. 

Gameological: I remember playing a lot of card games, video games and board games as a family. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I realized you didn’t really like them, that you were just playing to humor us.

Gibson: I think that goes for most parents, certainly most women. Nowadays, your dad will still play games with your brother, but I’m not interested in bargaining for blocks of wood and sheep and wheat. I can’t get along with that. 

Gameological: Are you talking about Settlers Of Catan?

Gibson: Yes, but I call it “Prisoners Of Catan,” because you’re imprisoned in your kitchen for hours and hours till this damn game ends, and the shepherds are all dead.


Margie Heisler
interviewed by Steve Heisler

Margie Heisler with young Steve

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Margie Heisler: Well, isn’t tennis a game? I play once a week, and occasionally, I’ll play a match. I think about strategy and what I need to do to win. I want to win. I don’t play board games. Dad never really cared to play games, and it was something I thought would be fun. When I was in college, I played cribbage, but it’s funny, I don’t remember how to play anymore.

Gameological: Was I the first person you ever met who played video games?

Heisler: Yeah, [the trend] started around the time you were that age.

Gameological: What did you think of my video game obsession when I was a kid?

Heisler: At the time, I thought there was real good hand-eye coordination; there was some thinking going on. But I really didn’t like the obsessive quality of it. I didn’t like that it was an indoor, in-the-basement, by-yourself type of situation. It was not social, it was not outside. It didn’t create any physical health. That’s why I put limits on it, because I still wanted you to be active and do stuff, and be involved with school and friends. On one hand, it was a way to have you be involved in something that you felt you were a winner at. On the other hand, as a child if you don’t keep trying to interact socially, you’re kind of creating your own destiny of aloneness.

I gotta tell you, the reason why I started to play tennis is because I wanted to play with you. You were a master of tennis. I wanted you to be good at a sport, so I got you involved with all those lessons with the thought that you might possibly make the team. Then ironically—isn’t this funny?—by the time I was at a place where I could do a little challenge with you, you don’t play anymore. 

Gameological: Well, we could play Wii tennis.

Heisler: There we go. Combining all my talents.


Pat Jones
interviewed by Scott Jones

Pat Jones

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Pat Jones: Hmm. The only one I do is Bookworm on the DS that you gave me. And there’s also a jewel one on there that I like. 

Gameological: Bejeweled?

Jones: Yes, I think that’s it. Those are the only two. And sometimes Words [With] Friends on Facebook. There’s lots of things on Facebook these days.

Gameological: How often are you gaming?

Jones: Every day. Mostly I play the DS at work. I bring it with me. [Note: She takes care of elderly people in Florida.]

Gameological: And the old people don’t mind?

Jones: They don’t know the difference. They’re asleep most of the time.


Noeline Keiser
interviewed by Joe Keiser

Noeline Keiser with baby Joe

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Noeline Keiser: I’m playing Bejeweled and Text Twist, depending on where I am. I play Bejeweled on my iPhone and Text Twist on my computer.

Gameological: What do you enjoy about those games?

Keiser: I like that they’re simple, and I can just play them and don’t have to use any brainpower. Since I don’t have to think too much, they let me zone out a little bit and forget all the housework, and whatever else I have to do. I’ve never liked other kinds of games, like where you go up levels, because I don’t have time to build on it. It’s too complicated for me.

Gameological: I remember you using games as stress relief since I was little. In those days, though, it was Tetris. I remember you used to keep a handheld Tetris game in your purse, and you would give it to me to keep me quiet while I was waiting for you at the hairdresser. But that wasn’t for me, was it? It was for you.

Keiser: Yeah, it was for me. Hey, I waited for you, too, when you were at class or wherever else I had to take you. I had to do something! What did you want me to do? So I would play.

Gameological: Dad didn’t want any games in the house, but you would let them in when he wasn’t around.

Keiser: Yep! I enjoy games. I think they’re a good way of relaxing. And I can play them with my kids, too! Dad thought those games weren’t good for you, though. He wanted you to be outdoors more. He still doesn’t play games.

Gameological: But you do. You’ve always said you’re not a gamer, but really you’ve played them forever, and maybe more than you think you do.

Keiser: I guess I do play a lot, huh? I didn’t realize that. Don’t tell Dad!


Judith Nelson
interviewed by Samantha Nelson

Judith Nelson with Samantha

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Judith Nelson: Like, nothing. The only thing I’ve ever played in my life is Pac-Man. I never even really played that. My boyfriend in college was a Pac-Man champ. I played every once in a while to keep him company. So is that the end of the interview?

Gameological: But that’s not true. You’ve played some Rock Band and Wii games.

Nelson: I played Wii for a week. I just did tennis. And then Rock Band one time at somebody’s house.

Gameological: Why’d you only play Wii for a week?

Nelson: I just felt a disconnect. You’re supposed to feel like you’re really playing the game, but I felt a disconnect from the screen.

Gameological: You read a lot of my game reviews. What do you get out of that?

Nelson: I like the stories. It’s almost like reading little short novels because most of them are set in medieval times or involve sorcerers and knights or forces of evil. They trigger your imagination. I picture them. I don’t know why it’s never made me tempted to play the games. I feel a little daunted by it.

Gameological: So how do you feel about having a daughter that writes about games professionally?

Nelson: I really think that anything that challenges the stereotypes in this world is great. I couldn’t be more proud of you if you were a female astronaut, but there are a lot of those now. I guess I could be more proud if you were the first female president of the United States, but I don’t think I want you to be. As a woman who was one of the few women in law when I started and one of the few female judges when I became a judge, I think breaking barriers is great.

Gameological: Even if I’m wasting time playing games like Angry Birds?

Nelson: No. If you’re writing about it, that’s fine.


Amy Rasmussen
interviewed by Gus Mastrapa

Amy Rasmussen with baby Gus Mastrapa

The Gameological Society: Mom, what are you playing this weekend?

Amy Rasmussen: Well, you know what I’m going to play. My Friends Whatever. Whatever its called. Words With Friends.

Gameological: When we were kids, and we used to play Scrabble, you used to always put a word so everybody else could get a good word off of it. Do you remember that?

Rasmussen: I guess I did. I don’t remember doing it on purpose. But I suppose I did. I would play it so we could play. 

Gameological: But then I started beating you.

Rasmussen: What you’re trying to find out is, do I play strategically now? I just play to get my turn over. Because I have 10 things to do. If a word pops up at me, and I find a place for it—I mean, I try to play strategically. If I have a “Q,” I try to find a triple space, and I try to find a “U.” But sometimes I’m just doing it so that I’ve done it and I can get on to the next thing.


Coreen Steinbach
interviewed by Anthony John Agnello

Coreen Steinbach with Anthony John Agnello

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Coreen Steinbach: The New York Times crossword puzzle. I started working the New York Times crossword with your Uncle Bob on Sunday afternoons in high school. Nerds. When Dad and I moved to the ’Cuse, we were religious about the Sunday Times. That was the start of my regular puzzling in earnest. I was working on the Sunday puzzle when I went into labor with your brother Gabe.

Gameological: Your other gaming obsession is Jeopardy!. How’d you get into Jeop? It’s Trebek’s ’stache, right?

Steinbach: Dude, Trebek ditched his ’stache years ago! That goes back to high school and the Art Fleming days. We had a little black-and-white TV in college, and we would watch Jeop at noon. We even had little clickers to ring in. That’s grown steadily over the years. You know the tale: I’ve bought books on the subject—

Gameological: And even gone to qualifying things to get on the show.

Steinbach: And I came so close! The regional [qualifying rounds] are less common now, and you’re limited to the online test system, which sucks.

Gameological: So what’s the difference between puzzles and Jeopardy!? What are they doing differently for you?

Steinbach: That’s a tough question. In some ways, they are similar. Broad knowledge is tested, and both have their own tricks, so once you’re skilled at the activity, there’s an aspect to it that is automatic, just like your skill set in video games. Crosswords are primarily a language activity, and I love language-related anything. I love the solving aspect of it. Jeopardy!, on the other hand, involves rapid recall across many areas of knowledge, and it’s fun to test your ability to rapidly, correctly respond across those diverse areas.


Bonney Teti
interviewed by John Teti

Bonney Teti

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend, Mom?

Bonney Teti: I will definitely be playing the fox game. [Note: She’s talking about Mystic Ice Blast, which she reviews on today’s podcast.] And I will definitely be playing Family Feud on Facebook, too. Oh! And Lexulous. I play that every day. Dad’s not much for games, so that’s about it.

Gameological: Dad doesn’t even play cards with you?

Teti: No, because now he plays a card game on the iPad. He plays gin.

Gameological: He taught me how to play gin when I was little. We used to play all the time in the summer.

Teti: You know, when he first taught me—I didn’t know how to play, so he taught me. And then we went on vacation, and I kept winning and winning and winning. I had no idea what I was doing. And he got so mad, he put the cards down and went for a very long walk on the beach. It was our first time that we ever went away together! It was supposed to be so romantic, but he was so irritated that he couldn’t win. He’s usually not like that.

Gameological: Really?

Teti: Yes, he’s usually not like that. I’m pretty sure I’m the worst sport in the family. I’m the most vocal about not winning, I’ll say that.


Ginny Toal
interviewed by Drew Toal

Ginny Toal with Drew

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend, Mom?

Ginny Toal: I started playing Angry Birds. I can see where it becomes addictive. But that’s it, since you took our Wii last time you were home.

Gameological: Bah. You only used it for Wii yoga, and now you do real yoga. You don’t need it anymore. Did that Wii yoga experience prepare you at all for the real thing?

Toal: Wii yoga is totally different from regular yoga. They give you different positions that you really have to learn how to do the right way, as opposed to an instructor on the screen telling you what to do. I think it familiarizes you with the basic poses of yoga. How to balance. I thought I was really good, according to Wii Yoga, but I really wasn’t, according to real yoga.

Gameological: Do you play games with your young autistic students?

Toal: I just watch them play. My one child has gotten past, I want to say the highest level of Mario 2? For—what is it—DSi? He’s not even five. He has an amazing capacity for video games. He’s amazingly intelligent. He uses an iPad. Children with autism, their brains tends to focus on screens, or light or motion. The games are helpful.

Gameological: You guys indulged us with a number of systems when we were growing up: Nintendo, 3DO, Dreamcast, probably half a dozen others. Which one did we like best, in your opinion? 

Toal: I think you liked the Nintendo the best. I can still see you guys trying so hard to land the plane on the aircraft carrier in Top Gun.


Kathleen Vogel
interviewed by Elise Vogel

Kathleen Vogel with baby Elise

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Vogel: That’s for little old ladies. All the little old ladies play mahjong and bridge, four days a week, all day long. I don’t do that. I’m 77 years old, and I don’t play games. I do the real thing.

And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately—or what your mom has been playing lately—and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.

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  • NFET

    My mom is probably playing something like Phoenix Wright, or Professor Layton, or Puzzle Quest, or something that’s a combination of all three. There are a surprisingly lot of those types of games.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Awesome!  Apart from 100-percenting Virtua Fighter 5 in my downtime, the best part of working summers at Gamestop was getting mothers hooked on graphic adventure games.  You’re right, they take to the storytelling surprisingly well, whether it’s Japanese-style on the DS or hidden object on the PC.  I’m pretty sure a quarter of Cing’s lifetime sales came from central Wisconsin.

      • Citric

        I know of a couple women over 40 who bought DSes (or swiped DSes from their children who have moved on to more powerful consoles) just so they could get the Layton games.

    • LimeadeYouth

      Is your mom married? That’s my kinda gal. :)

      • NFET

        Yeah, she’s married to the guy who’s playing Civilization V downstairs.

  • ImANarc

    My mom is a lot like Gus’ mom when it comes to games like Words With Friends.  She treats it more like another chore to do (she also doesn’t remember any names with has gone from funny to irritating to being hilarious).  She’s convinced that her brother is cheating in Words With Friends but I chock that up to our family being both sore losers and winners.  There’s a reason why my family only plays one game together a year, a DVD version of Match Game at Christmas.

    Oh wait!  We did play Pictionary with my brother-in-law’s parents and I’m pretty sure we horrified their delicate mid-western sensibilities with our poor sportsmanship and constant cursing whenever somebody pulled ahead of the others.

  • Mookalakai

    I’ll be the one to say it, this is adorable.
    Also, my mom doesn’t play any games at all, and I’m pretty she thinks I suck because I play way too many video games.

    • Aaron Riccio

      Yeah, I second that with a big ol’ “awwww.” At least all of you can say that you’re doing something constructive with your gaming, you know, as a writing-editor person for computer online games…thingies (WEPFCOGT). I still have to explain to my non-gaming parents the appeal of games: honestly, neither of them even really does the crossword because it’s difficult. I keep trying to explain that it gets easier, but only if you keep at it. 

      Then again, my Dad’s fairly good at poker, chess, backgammon and other analytical games and my mother’s still able to crush me in Boggle and Scrabble (or Quattro), so I guess that explains why they don’t give me such a hard time . . . and also why I’m so eager to play just about *anything.* It’s in my GENETICS!

      • Enkidum

        My father taught me go, chess, backgammon, and a bunch of assorted analytical games (he’s a physicist, go figure). He’s also into various puzzle-type computer games – he’s finished World of Goo, for instance. I suggested Braid to him, since I figured he’d love the time manipulation, but he can’t deal with the platforming since he’s never played a game like that. I got him to run through the first couple of levels of Portal on my XBox, which he enjoyed a lot but found the dual-stick control very difficult. I suggested the computer version might be better for him, since the mouse aiming might be more natural.

        Family games were either cards with my sister and father, or Scrabble or other board games with my mother. She likes them, but by the time we were grown up was regularly getting creamed.

        They do cryptic crosswords together, which is a whole other realm of difficulty. Madness.

        • Aaron Riccio

          I friggen’ *LOVE* cryptic crosswords.

        • unicyclistperiscopes

          My mother taught me how to do the cryptic crosswords, and now my wife and I do them at weekends (and any other time we get the ‘paper in the week). Love them. Thanks Mum.

        • caspiancomic

           Aw man, I really wish I could do cryptic crosswords. My mom and I occasionally sit down to one together. She knocks ‘em out like it’s nothing, and I usually just sit there like a big dumb jerk.

    • Monkeylint

      My parents would be sickened if they knew how much time I spend on video games as a mid-30s guy with a wife and a kid and a mortgage. But then I’m in an MMO right now, and that always prompts me to play an amount of time that sickens myself.

      • Mookalakai

         I’m only 20 and have neither a spouse nor any offspring, (I know, you’re thinking, 8 hours a day playing computer games, and this guy isn’t getting any, something doesn’t add up) but I always justify it like I either play a shit ton of video games, or I get addicted to heroin. So I can always say, “at least it’s not heroin!”

  • ShitMcFuckensteinAVC

    My mom is a big tetris fan. She loves the older FPS like Wolfenstein and Doom. She stopped playing Doom after having nightmares about the pink demons.

    • dreadguacamole

        Tetris was the only video game my mom ever was interested in; she got completely hooked on it, though – she’d play the thing for hours – and finally kicked the habit when she realized that she was mentally arranging falling blocks between two actors when she was watching TV…

      • unicyclistperiscopes

        That’s great – my mother got hooked on it too, to the point where I’d have to remind her to feed my baby sister every four hours or so.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       Tetris was my mom’s favorite game, thought she also likes variants like Tetris 2 and Dr. Mario (those games are probably the two Mother’s-Day presents that have gotten the most consistent use over the years, by far).

      I remember when I was very little (2nd grade, maybe) my grandma took my brother and I to pick out a Mother’s Day present for our mom, and we were dead-set on getting her Dr. Mario for the NES (which she would have loved). Our grandma thought we were just trying to trick her into buying a video game for ourselves, and wound up vetoing us and just buying, like, a sweater or something and putting our name on it.

      I used colored stickers to make a Dr. Mario mosaic on the boring rectangular JCPenney’s garment box, at least.

  • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

    This is fucking adorable.

  • caspiancomic

    These are some of the mommiest answers I could ever hope for to these questions.

    My mom has a passing curiosity about these videos-games I spend a lot of my time with, and while I was growing up and hadn’t yet developed the idea that not everyone around me was interested in the ins and outs of the mythology of Final Fantasy VII, I used to prattle on to her for hours about the games I was playing. She’s only ever really played one game: Mappy Land, for the NES. She fuckin’ loved that shit. And who can blame her?

    • The_Misanthrope

       For the most part, my mom doesn’t play video games except for, of all things, Toejam & Earl for the Sega Genesis.  Her and my dad will play that together over and over.  If the system or cartridge breaks, they just get another one.  She doesn’t even hold the controller; She just leaves the controller on the table and uses it kind of like a keyboard (she did do a lot of data entry before she got married).

      • The Guilty Party

        That is because Toejam and Earl is the most awesomest game ever. You can buy a copy on steam nowadays, if they ever run out of genesis/cartrigdes.

        • The_Misanthrope

          Agreed. It holds up really well. As for the notion of getting it on Steam, my mom doesn’t like using computers too much. The last time they had to replace a Genesis, my dad tried getting a Wii instead since it’s on the Wii Virtual Console as well, but my mom had problems with the Wiimote. Moms, right?

      • caspiancomic

         I would like to hang out with your mom, @The_Misanthrope:disqus, it sounds like we would get along.

        • The_Misanthrope

           Addendum to stories about my mom:  Bonnie Teti’s story about learning and then beating her husband at gin does remind me about my mom’s proclivity for chess.  Back when her and my dad were dating, he was working a warehouse security job and my mom used to visit him to keep him from getting bored.  It was during these visits that my dad taught my mom to play chess and then my mom started winning…and hasn’t really stopped.  In all my years, my dad has never won a game of chess against my mom (nor have I, but I’ve never claimed to be very good at it).

    • Citric

      Prattling on for hours about the games you’re playing reminds me of when my nephew was trying to tell me about Pokemon one day, which was a lengthy conversation which I mostly spent nodding and not paying much attention. Then I said “You know, I think I might be too old for Pokemon,” which caused him to have a priceless look on his face, shocked that someone could possibly be too old for Pokemon, and contemplating whether he, too, might meet the same fate.

  • caspiancomic

    Agh, while I’m here, let’s start a new thread on recommendations. I don’t want to dilute my moms-thread with my board games-thread. My friends and I have started hitting up Snakes and Lattes on the weekends, and I was looking for a few good board game recommendations. I’ve seen the topic discussed in these comments before, and thought maybe you guys could help a dood out. For what it’s worth, my group and I usually prefer games with only a small number of simple rules, rather than Risk-like games with micromanagement and complex game-wide strategies in play. Probably the most complicated game we’ll play on a given night is Catan, but as a rule we usually stick to games like Blokus, Apples to Apples, Mindtrap, Cards Against Humanity, etc. With those as a jumping off point, you guys have any reccomendations?

    • Aaron Riccio

      Y’know, I just played “Lost Cities: The Board Game” (as opposed to just “Lost Cities”) and I found that to be a deceptively simple game to get into (much like “Parade”). “Golden City” is pretty straightforward, too. And the lightest games that I carry around with me for most board game nights are always “Bottle Imp” and “Jungle Run.” And I guess I might as well recommend “Ticket to Ride” before someone else does — there’s a cheap IOS version of that if you want to try it out before committing to the board game itself. 

      By the way, I just played “Cards Against Humanity” the other night — I nearly burst a vein in my forehead from laughing so hard.

      • caspiancomic

         Ooh, baby, that’s a lot of suggestions. Thanks, man. Oh, and making a financial commitment to a game won’t be necessary, the place we go to has the games in stock for customers to play.

        And yes, I almost got a collapsed lung playing Cards Against Humanity. It’s like Apples to Apples: A Porn Parody.

    • doyourealize

      I know it’s one of the more popular games and one that you may have already played, but Carcassonne is a simple, fun, strategic game if you haven’t played it.  I’ve also mentioned Dominion on this site before, but if you missed it, that’s another good one, though only four players (not sure how many you play with).  And that one’s cool because you always switch up the cards you play with, so it’s never the same game twice.  Both of those have tremendous replay values, too, especially if you take into consideration the many expansion packs available for either game.

      • caspiancomic

         We play with exactly four people, so this is perfect! Well, sometimes three, but still pretty perfect. Cheers dude, I’ll try these out.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Have you tried Bananagrams? In terms of lighter board games,it’s one of my favorites.  I’ve found it to be more fun than Scrabble lately, and I’m pretty sure it can accommodate more players. Fittingly enough, my mother gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago.

      • caspiancomic

         ”More fun than Scrabble” isn’t necessarily a huge bar to clear, but I get where you’re coming from. I haven’t tried Bananagrams, and if it’s similar to Scrabble but better, I’m basically going to have to. I actually really like the idea of Scrabble, but only because in between games I forget that I’m a complete dunce and that it takes the average player something like 75 minutes to complete a turn in that game. So basically anything that delivers on the same premise but better is going on the list. Thanks for the recommendation, man, I’ll check it out!

        • Aaron Riccio

          Have you ever played multiplayer solitaire? (I forget what it’s called — Blitz, or something like that.) You both are playing solitaire, but you can play onto each other’s ace piles and once somebody goes out, you lose points for the cards in your buried deck and gain points for the ones you’ve managed to get out onto the “board”?

          Bananagrams is multiplayer Scrabble, albeit with some variations. You’re each playing on your OWN board, and you’re each attempting to get somewhere from 11-21 tiles placed on the board at the same time. Whenever somebody does, each player takes another tile from the center (the draw bag) and attempts to add it to their board (they’re able to rearrange tiles at any point; they just can’t “complete” their board unless every word on it is connected in valid Scrabble fashion). The winner is the first person done once there are fewer tiles left in the center than there are players. 

          Makes me wonder what other classic one or two player games might have an interesting multiplayer variant, like that Chess one where you can drop pieces on one board that you’ve captured from another.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          It’s much faster paced than Scrabble and a ton more FUN. There aren’t points, you arrange your tiles on your own “board” (you can have them go as far in any direction as you want.) and the first person to use up all their tiles wins. There are a few rule variations (solitaire, quicker rule sets, etc) and it’s ridiculously simple to teach people. 

          And yeah, I really don’t like playing Scrabble.

  • http://thewavefunctionjunction.blogspot.com/ trilobiter

    Some of my earliest memories are of watching my mom play the Legend of Zelda.  Nowadays she’s mostly all about browser games and Pogo and stuff like that, but but Zelda is something we’ll always share.

    • PugsMalone

      My mom actually beat A Link to the Past (with a bit of help from me). I think she died something like 500 times in the process.

  • Enkidum

    Working my way through Infamous 2. The Beast has just arrived in New Marais. Love grinding and just about everything in the air, but the sameyness of the non-story levels drives me a bit crazy, and the stupidity of the citizens does too.

    I’m playing a straight good character – I find it very difficult to be evil in games (in real life, of course, it’s another matter – mwahahahaha). I keep rescuing all these idiots and wondering why I don’t just join Nix and massacre everyone. I suppose it’s because she’s an offensive stereotype with awful dialogue and voice acting. 

    • JohnnyLongtorso

       My biggest problem with inFamous 2 was that the developers gave up trying to do anything interesting in the last part of the city and instead just threw a junk titan at you in every mission. Those things were a pain in the ass to fight.

      • Enkidum

        Yeah, those were tough fuckers. I just won it today. I really like just soaring over the city, and the fighting’s not half bad, but damn I wish there was more effort put into writing of games with so many cutscenes…

  • Chip Dipson

    My mom was never one to play video games, but the few times she did, she would play with a laser-like focus until the whole game was mastered. I remember her and my sister staying up late one night and beating Toe Jam and Earl, also Bubble Bobble. But what really impressed me and my Dad was she practically “beat” Sim City; in terms of she filled every square of available land and ran out of things to build and do. Now we mostly play Words with Friends.

  • The_Misanthrope

    I know this is AV Club style from way back, but it’s a little weird to see all the questions addressed from the monolithic “The Gameological Society” (or “Gameological” for short) when it’s clear that the moms are talking to their sons or daughters.

  • 3FistedHumdinger

    My mom’s playing crosswords and Wii Fit Plus.

  • Shain Eighmey

    Awesome segment. “Prisoners of Catan” is an awesome line, which made me laugh out loud. None of my parents play games. 

    • doyourealize

      And it actually sounds like it a could be a good game.  She should write them and request royalties.  Big money!!

      • Aaron Riccio

        I’ll trade you two cigarettes for three sheep . . . and I won’t stab you on the next seven.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Having learned how to use a computer only a couple of years ago, my mom doesn’t play video games at all. I’m not sure that she’s ever even tried one in her entire life. She’s not too fond of board games either. Card games seem to be her thing; she kicks ass at Patience. She occasionally does crossword puzzles, and she’s obsessed with sudokus.

    Weird irony: my mom never took a math course after grade 9 – she did a general BA and then went to law school – and she does a couple of sudokus everyday. I have a degree in math, and I’ve never completed a suodku in my life.

    As for what I’m playing this weekend, probably some combination of New Vegas and Arkham Asylum.

    • unicyclistperiscopes

      Sudoku isn’t really a mathematical game, though – it’s a logic puzzle that uses the numbers 1-9 as differentiators.
      I tried telling my friend this once, but he just hit me. Because I’m a nerd who likes logic puzzles. 

      • LimeadeYouth

        The first sudoku game I ever bought had an option for using colored stones instead of numbers. Surprisingly, it ups the level of difficult another degree.

      • The_Misanthrope

         Yeah, Sudoku only requires you know the numbers, not be able to use them.  For a Sudoku-like puzzle that requires a little bit of math, you need to go to KenKen:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KenKen

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          I actually like KenKen a lot. I’ve never completed a Sudoku, but I’ve done several KenKen. Maybe actually doing arithmetic appeals to me, I don’t know…

          • The_Misanthrope

            Me too. I suppose it still boils down to a logic puzzle in the end, but the math part does make me feel like I’m doing more than sliding blocks into place.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Funny, I told my mom the same thing and she just rolled her eyes at me. I remember that one time back in high school, my chemistry teacher handed us a sudoku that used elemental symbols instead of digits. I think it used Cr, Cu, and Co, which made it hella confusing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lethargiclad Evan Talbott

        My first sudoku was actually the one in the back of TV Guide, which uses a pool of letters. Once I got the hang of that 1-9 was a cinch.

  • Swadian Knight

    My best memory of my father is related to gaming. When I bought Shadow of the Colossus for my PS2 back in 2005, he saw me slay the first colossus and got hooked – while he didn’t play it himself, he suggested tactics and pointed out weak spots, and together we worked our way through the game.

    We’d never had the best of relationships (something that only got worse over the years), and our interests were too diverse for us to really find something we could enjoy together. And this game was perhaps the only experience we were really able to bond over.

    And that’s a big part of why I think SotC was a brilliant game.

  • doyourealize

    Our family game was Pinochle, still a tradition at family gatherings and dinner nights.  Now that I think of it, I’m not sure how much my mom enjoyed playing, but she played anyway.

    My mom was never a fan of video games.  We had to go to friends’ houses to get our NES and SNES fix.  At one point in our lives, people gave us an old Super Pong system, and also an Atari 2600, which I think made her realize how addicted we (I, especially) could get to them.  That, and our Apple IIe with Loderunner and old Infocom games.  (Aside:  I loved an Atari game set in space that was played with a keypad that had numbers on it.  I can’t remember the name of it and would love if someone knows and could remind me.)

    Anyway, the first system we actually bought was a Sega Genesis.  I spent a lot of time on that and the worst punishment I could receive was a week (or more!) without it.  We (brother, sister, friends) were also into movie-making at the time, and our mom told us if we sold the Genesis, she would buy us a video camera.  We sold it, and she never held up her end of the bargain.  We were system-less and video camera-less, a childhood spent in abject poverty, I know.  On Sunday, I’ll have to remind her she still owes us a video camera.

    Now I can afford to buy my own systems, and my mom will even take part in Wii Sports and Guitar Hero every once in a while.

    Happy Mom’s Day to all the moms!

    • Mr. Glitch

       Hi, @doyourealize:disqus, the game you’re thinking of is most likely Star Raiders. The 2600 version of that game included a special numeric keypad that plugged into the joystick port.

      • doyourealize

        That’s the one!  I looked it up after you said that, and apparently there’s a new version of that game on Steam that I’m not sure is any good.  I don’t even remember what the numbers were for, but I remember losing myself in that game for hours.

  • Jason Sigler

    I might just send my mom her first Words With Friends invite, seeing as how we signed her up for Facebook when she last visited (so she could see her first granddaughter grow up from 1,000 miles away). If she gets her hands on anything Tetris-branded, however, you best just leave her to that zone for a bit.

  • ElDan

    Let me be the first to say all of your moms are lovely ladies and I’d gladly make whoopie with any of them.

    • LimeadeYouth

      I have to mention I am happily surprised there has been a comparative lack of the “your mom” jokes from the commentariat one might expect on the mother (!) site.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/tasha-robinson,6/ TashaRobinson

    My mom is a serious-ass Farmville addict. I’m not sure I even count that as a game, though.

    That aside, this is unbeatably terrific: 

    Gibson: And here you are, a writing-editor person for computer online games…thingies. Videos.

    Gameological: You don’t actually know what I do for a living, do you?

    Gibson: No.

    • flowsthead

      Every time I see farmville I think of this YouTube video: 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odBDAcOEKuI&ob=av3e

      The beginning 20 seconds is way funnier than the rest of it (and all of the other facebook ads he does have a hilarious 20 second intro and then diminishing results), but I love that he included his mom in it.

    • LimeadeYouth

      Hey, we’re missing a mom in this article!

  • George_Liquor

    Jeez, Heisler, are you wishing someone into the cornfield in that photo?

  • urthstripe

    My mom has only played one video game in her life: Dr. Mario. And I swear, I’ve never seen anyone as good as her. I couldn’t even keep up with how fast the pills were falling once she got to the end of her 3+ hour playing binges.

    But she has been completely unable to get into any other game. Even other puzzle games.

    • http://twitter.com/roundthewheel Jessie Eubanks

      Same here. My mom is no gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s a beast at Dr. Mario. She could and did take all comers. She always started on 20 Hi and routinely made it to 23 and 24.

  • Citric

    My mom adores Tetris, that and spider solitaire are the two games she plays. Once, she had to get a new computer, and we couldn’t find the version of Tetris she used, and which meant every day she asked where her Tetris was, why this other Tetris she found didn’t control quite as well, and so on. She also tried whatever I was playing as a kid, but generally gave up after the first couple tries.

    I also remember getting her to help me with the age confirming questions on Lesiure Suit Larry, which was an odd thing to do in hindsight.

    • LimeadeYouth

      Is Leisure Suit Larry your dad? It sounds like a distinct possibility.

  • George_Liquor

    My mom never held much interest in video games, and for the most part, neither did my dad. However, he loved River Raid on the Atari 2600. That’s the only video game I can recall him playing when we kids weren’t around.

  • LimeadeYouth

    Hey, this is the lamest overbearing mother inventory EVER! To put another spin on this, my wife and mother to my 4 children will be playing Farmville this weekend, and possibly Super Mario Brothers if she goes her mom’s house.

  • Raging Bear

    My brother got mom a 360 at some point, so I get an occasional disconnect when she tells me what she thinks about the latest Halo. If only she’d been into gaming before we lived on opposite ends of the country.

    As for me, I’m seeing Penn & Teller at a casino tonight, so I might end up playing video blackjack or some other minimally terrifying form of gambling.

  • kateburning

    My mom and dad met playing pinball, and while I was growing up we always went to the same restaurant every Friday night and played pinball as a family while we waited for our food. My mom is scary good at pinball – I’ll never get there, because I inevitably get pissed at the cabinet and tilt it. 

    Now she plays a lot of Facebook games. I always have requests from her from the weirdest games. 

  • flowsthead

    My mom didn’t play any games when I was little (that I know of) but she plays some iPad games now. I know she used to love watching me play Super Mario 64 a lot. She really loved the idea of Mario jumping into the paintings. She thought that was a fantastical idea. She still thinks that Mario 64 is the gold standard of games. I thought she might like the stories in Final Fantasy games, but she doesn’t seem to appreciate serious cartoon stories as much as the silly cartoon stories, plus there are too many battles in FF games.

    Now that I think about it, she did like puzzle games like Myst. She didn’t beat it because it had no people in it for the longest time, but she played the Longest Journey (and got me to play with her) and seemed to really enjoy that. She also played some games with my dad back when they were in Bulgaria (and before they had me) on the computer similar to Myst, but I can’t remember their names.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ramon-Mujica/650405180 Ramon Mujica

    Women don’t play videogames.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    What an awesome feature.  It reminds me of how every Mothers Day, Morning Edition on NPR signs of the closing credits by saying “produced by x’s son or music by y’s daughter”.  I mean, not actually x or y, the person’s mom.  It gets me every year.

  • The Guilty Party

    My mom doesn’t really play video games, but due to getting older, I now know multiple moms who do play games, because they played games growing up and why should babies stop that? It does cut down the playing time available though…

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    For my mom the answer is, was, and always will be either original Tetris or Tetris 2 for the Gameboy or Dr. Mario for the Gameboy Advance. She’s a sucker for falling block puzzle games.

    Though I just remembered, she went through a phase where she played tons of Kirby’s Pinball, which is a little weird.

    As for me: This weekend I’ll finally be playing UFO: A Day in the Life, which @GhaleonQ:disqus has recommended numerous times. So far I’m really liking it. It’s got a bit of that Majora’s Mask “community of characters running along their pre-ordained schedules” character, which is neat, but put in service of a completely different style of game.

    It’s getting me kind of pumped for the Moon:Remix RPG translation to hurry up and get done.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Aw.  Sometimes I think Tetris doesn’t quite rank with the more complex block puzzle games that followed, but my parents and others remind me that I have to respect its purposeful purity.  Fun stuff.  I bet you could get her to play Epic Yarn!

      And I’m so happy to hear it!  3 quick things:

      1.  If it seems slow at the beginning, don’t worry.  The nice thing about going midnight to midnight is that the naturally slow periods of the day act like a tutorial.  Great design choice by Kudo.

      2.  Some of the funny stuff is missable.  I’ll fill you in when you finish, so play how you like.

      3.  I’ve gotten 15 or so people to play it that I know of, and 2 said it was a little slow for them in parts.  If it seems like the stories aren’t going anywhere, just wait for the last 4 hours.  The storytelling is very decompressed, but there are enough 1-off jokes, clever puzzles, and character moments to focus your attention.  If that turns out not to be the case for you, I can still assure you that they totally nail the payoff for every single character.

      If you do need to hurry it up, I see that in the 3 years since people started paying atttention to them, 1 of my favorite GameFAQs people did a walkthrough in English.  http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps/575408-ufo-a-day-in-the-life/faqs/62525  Most of them aren’t that hard, just the multi-room/level ones.  I hope you like it!

  • http://undomielregina.dreamwidth.org/ undomielregina

    Ever since she played Myst when it was first released, my mom has loved point-and-click adventure games. I’m working on getting her all hyped up for the new Double Fine game, and trying to get her hooked on Money Island in the meantime.

  • JokersNuts

    “I don’t know why it’s never made me tempted to play the games. I feel a little daunted by it.” —
    This is kind of what I think is the problem with a lot of modern games.  The Wii really tried to overcome this problem, but Hardcore gamers vehemently dislike anything that seems palatable to people who aren’t used to playing with 15 buttons on a controller.  They HATE the Wii. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I thought they hated the Wii because it doesn’t have “h4rdc0re gr4fix.”

      For me, nothing beats using the Wiimote as a steering wheel to play Mario Kart.

      • metatwaddle

        My boyfriend claims that the classic controller is better for being really good and precise at Mariokart, and he’s probably right, but I don’t want to put in the time for that shit. I play Mariokart to steer with my Wiimote-and-steering-wheel and curse at blue shells.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          My hardcore Nintendo-playing friends say the same thing about the Gamecube controller. That’s probably why they always kick my ass at Mario Kart. My guess is that once you get used to a joystick, you find it hard to adapt to a different control scheme. I never played a lot of racing games growing up, though, so the Wiimote works fine for me.

  • http://profiles.google.com/deceleration.waltz Deceleration Waltz

    My mom is engaged in a round of Words with Friends with me at the moment. She’s been the queen Scrabble player of our extended family for a very long time, so I’m pleased when I occasionally land a victory against her. She has always loved puzzle games, and her tastes range from Tetris to Dr. Mario to Bejeweled. (She and I have also had extended periods of competitively playing Super Puzzle Fighter and Puyo Puyo.) I also remember her playing Mario 3 and SMW a lot with my dad when I was young.

    As for tabletop games, she likes Apples to Apples, Scrabble, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and Farkle. I should drag her into Settlers of Catan one of these days…

  • Channel 8 News

    I’ll be playing Minecraft (Xbox 360 Edition) as much as possible this weekend. I’ve always wanted to get into it, and for some reason I thought the Xbox version would be a good way to go.

    All lot of the purists complain about it, that the maps are too small and it’s scaled down with no mod support (the current Xbox version is Beta 1.6, with more updates promised). I don’t mind since I didn’t know anything else. Once I’ve mined (pun!) all the achievements and fun out of the Xbox version, I’ll almost certainly move on to the PC version.

  • metatwaddle

    The Gameological writers’ moms are pretty awesome!

    My mom, like many of the ones in this article, is great at word games. She plays Word Bubbles on Lumosity on her own and Boggle with our family (i.e. my sister and sometimes me).

    We also have a card game that we play at extended family gatherings, which is called ginasta. It is sort of like a cross between gin and canasta, and as far as I can tell, it’s unique to our family.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    Bejeweled is the only game I’ve ever screamed curses at while playing. And yet I kept playing because those damned jewels weren’t going to explode themselves.

    As far as moms go, mine liked watching while I played KOTOR. She also liked watching Samurai Jack and Justice League with me. I was in my twenties, by the way, so she wasn’t humouring her nine year old or censoring for objectionable humpage.

  • http://computerneu.com/ arinubi

     Health is very important to note. Sometimes we spend time to work and recreation. Yoga … maybe this one will be my priority in the future. Thank you for this inspiration.

  • http://computerneu.com/ arinubi

    Health is very important to note. Sometimes we spend time to work and recreation. Yoga … maybe this one will be my priority in the future. Thank you for this inspiration.

  • binaryzen

    My wife – mother of two – is playing Mortal Kombat (PS3). And kicking asses all over the place.

  • OhHaiMark

    I haven’t seen my mother in a year or two, I’d say. I called her after reading this and said “Mom, what are you playing?”  Her response? 
     
    “If you’re wasting long-distance minutes to ask me if I’m playing a fucking video game this weekend, I’m going to have to stop sending you money for school because you obviously have some disposable income.”  :(
     
    I called my dad though, and he was playing Civilization 2. We discussed strategies.

  • http://twitter.com/IsolaValentine Nat – DSQ ♥(。→‿←。)♥

    Gardens of Time on Facebook, she even texts me to send her upgrades. It’s unrelenting.

  • Mr. Glitch

    Hi everybody, Mr Glitch here with another classic game review!

    Today I’m reviewing Blaster Master, released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. Terrific controls, detailed graphics, complex level designs and some of the best background tunes the NES has ever spat out combine to make it a must-own.

    Blaster Master begins its tale in suitably bizarre Suncom fashion. A series of stills tell the story of a young boy’s pet frog who becomes sick of his owner’s constant tapping on his aquarium and cheeses it straight to the family’s stash of radioactive material. Upon contact, the frog grows to an enormous size and escapes down a hole into a subterranean labyrinth. The boy follows his wayward mutant frog into the hole, where he encounters a sporty tank-thing named Sophia The 3rd. He hops in, cranks up the Molly Hatchet and tears ass towards the biggest adventure of his life.

    You spend most of the game driving your sports tank in a side-scrolling landscape reminiscent of Metroid, though much more colorful. Your tank can jump, (of course) and aim its turret straight up to shoot enemies above you. It also packs a limited supply of ordnance such as homing missiles and lightning bolts that shoot straight down from your tank. Your character can hop out of Sophia and go it on foot, though he has much less firepower and is vulnerable to falls from too great a height. Scattered throughout the levels are small doorways that your character must pass through on foot. When he does, the game shifts to a top-down perpective as you maneuver through the rooms, collecting power-ups and occasionally fighting the level’s boss. Yep that’s right, you have to fight them without your tank’s firepower, which adds a pretty unique twist to the game. Once you defeat the boss, you earn an upgrade for Sophia that typically gives you access to the next level–another huge nod to Metroid here. These upgrades include added firepower, the ability to drive up walls, and hover for briefs periods. They add a lot of replay value to the game too, since they give you the opportunity to explore previously unreachable sections of completed levels. 

    For all its brilliance, Blaster Master does have a few drawbacks. It’s not an easy game to complete. You get a health meter, three lives and a handful of continues to support you though all 8 levels. There’s no battery backup or password save either, so you’re playing through the whole game in one shot, or you’re leaving your NES on overnight. There’s no recovery time when you get hit, so you may find yourself stuck in a lava pit with your life bar quickly draining away before you can escape. Fortunately, enemies often drop health when killed, so recovery usually means finding a shady spot to pick off a few baddies. The top-down portions of the game have a pseudo-3D dynamic dynamic that adds a bit of realism, but a lot of frustration. You have to imagine the enemies are standing up out of the screen and aim for their feet, or your bullets just pass behind them. You carry a gun in your left hand and a grenade launcher in your right, and you’ll frequently run across problems lining up enemies with either one. Even worse: some bosses are immune to your grenades, leaving only your chumpy little pea-shooter to fight it with. The overhead game and boss battles do tend to drag the game down, but the reward for your efforts is palpable when you hop back into your newly-upgraded tank and explore more of Blaster Master‘s world.

    Blaster Master sold very well when it was released, and today it’s super-easy to find online and around town. It spawned a number of sequels and re-imaginings on the Sega Genesis, Game Boy Color, Playstation and the Wii’s Virtual Console. In fact, I’d say the Wii is the way to go, since it will allow you to save the game’s state, negating the game’s biggest problem.

    Thanks for reading my review! I’d like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there in Gameological, and an extra special one to Mama Glitch, who bought me this spectacular game for my birthday all those years ago.

  • TheDunk

    I got my mom a tablet and now she plays Angry Birds all the time.