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.
Steve Gadlin appeared on the ABC investor-pitching show Shark Tank with an intriguing offer: a business that charged 10 bucks for a custom cat drawing. It sounded insane, but Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, bit on the deal. Now Gadlin’s I Want To Draw A Cat For You keeps him busy. That venture is just as idiosyncratic as his others—live game shows like Don’t Spit The Water and Impress These Apes, in which comics compete to win the hearts of three people in ape costumes. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two kids, who make great partners for adventures in The Cave.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Steve Gadlin: I’ve been hooked on this game called The Cave. Which, when I say I’m hooked, I’ll say my six-year-old and my two-year-old are hooked on it. So I get roped into playing for several hours every day.
Gameological: So you play and they watch?
Gadlin: Exactly. They’ll grab up the game, take a stab at it for a minute, and say, “Daddy, we want to watch you play.” And we’ve played through it with every character several times now, so they know exactly what’s going to happen and what to do. They’ll guide me through the game as I solve all the puzzles.
Gameological: Who are the characters your kids like the most?
Gadlin: My daughter loves the twins, which is kind of frightening because they’re two little children that try to kill their parents, which somehow relates to her. She’s real excited about them. And then my son likes the hillbilly character who is out to regain lost love in a carnival.
Gadlin: I don’t know that he gets those concepts, he just picks him because he walks real funny. [Laughs.]
Gameological: I don’t think I could have predicted that that was the game you would play with your kids. Why that game, do you think?
Gadlin: I was interested in it because I’m an old school PC-gamer fan. Ron Gilbert, who wrote and put together The Cave, is the guy behind the whole Secret Of Monkey Island series, Maniac Mansion, and some real old-school LucasArts games. Monkey Island for me during the Ron Gilbert era was the greatest game of all time, Monkey Island 1 and 2. Now that other people got their hands on it, more recent incarnations, it’s a whole ’nother thing, but to me it was that excitement of, “Ooh! Another Ron Gilbert thing,” and maybe recapturing some of those old Monkey Island jokes. So that’s what got me interested in it. My kids were really hooked on Nintendo Land on the Wii U, and we had been playing that every day. When I saw [The Cave] was available for the Wii U, I went ahead and purchased it. I started playing it expecting them to hate it and beg to put “Mario Chase” back on, but they got really into the story, and it’s been an exciting way to relive some of those stories I used to get into, with my kids.
Gameological: Do you feel like this game captures that old Monkey Island magic?
Gadlin: No, not quite. I think there are shades of it, but back then, you would sit at a game and do a lot of reading. People just don’t do that anymore, so there’s not as much opportunity for him to shine. The stories are told in a real basic way. They’re not as neat as they were in those old games, but the humor and style are there. I’d say this is a good first try, and hopefully if they make The Cave 2, by then the wheels will all be turning.
Gameological: What’s your feeling about kids playing games?
Gadlin: It depends. We’re still in the phase of, if they’re playing games, we’re doing it together. It’s some of the best time I get to spend with them. If I’m not drawing stick-figure cats locked away in a room, I’m sitting down with them and interacting around these stories. For me it’s better than TV, though I’ll say they’re getting a little strange when I’m having to explain to my six-year-old why these twins are killing their parents, and what it means for the parents to be dead, and why they put rat poison in their food. Fortunately, The Cave has this out where the characters can’t die. It keeps telling you that you can’t die in the Cave, so I keep telling her that same logic applies to any other characters that might die in the game. [Laughs.]
Gameological: Do you find games are going to be a viable form of engaging them and educating them and whatnot?
Gadlin: I think so, yeah. I was raised on these things. I was a kid who instead of going out and playing sports, sat in a room and worked his way through a pirate adventure on a computer. I came out okay. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. Same with any sort of entertainment, you moderate, and you make sure it’s not too extreme. You try to monitor the stuff that goes into your kid’s brain as much as you can. I prefer them sitting there with me playing a video game to clicking on the Disney Channel and letting them sit in front of it for 20 minutes. That for me is far, far better for their minds. And now my kid at six years old—and she’s watched me solve them—but she’s solving puzzles. That’s the kind of thing I wasn’t doing until I was 10 or 12.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.