Being a gaming journalist is a cool job. No doubt about it. You are correct to envy us.
However, it’s not all drunken E3 parties and late night multiplayer battles with game developers and celebrities. We play games for a living, of course, but for every Far Cry 3 there’s a Hello Kitty’s Island Adventure (thanks, South Park).
Worse are the PR folks clawing at our inbox, begging us to write about whatever game, app or accessory they’re paid to pitch. I’ve found gaming PR folks to be a mostly decent group of humans – especially when they’re actually gamers. But many of their products are shit. They have to be. Its just science. Yet, the PR person has to pretend it’s not shit as they extoll its virtues to a skeptical gaming journalist.
That’s when a little humor goes a long way. I’ll read a press release from a flack with a good sense of humor before I read anything from some tool that begins their release “WHAT’S UP, GAMERZ!”
This is why I dig Aubrey Norris. She writes arresting – borderline offensive – press releases that grab your attention. Be careful, ‘cause she’ll cut a bitch.
“It’s all improv,” she said.
“There was one time I started raging about mailmen. Or the (probably many) times I’ve threatened to cut the reader of my e-mails for no apparent reason.”
Does her approach work? You be the judge. Ever heard of a game called Dead Island? Yup, that was she.
Aubrey is the Manager of Marketing & PR, North America, at Deep Silver. An X-Men fan since the 4
grade, she is married to a former Gearbox guy who shares her love of action figures – they have thousands in a dedicated room in their house.
They were literally brought together by their love of video games.
And now they have twins.
“#chupababies, Jude and Graham. 14 months old. Earlier this year, they received their first game credit in Borderlands 2 since they were born during its’ development and Eric (husband) worked on the game. They have a higher Metacritic average for their credits than I do, which makes me bitter.”
It also makes her the perfect person to interview for this column about being a geek parent. You’ve been reading about my personal experiences as a geek dad for months. Today I’m going back to reporting to see how other folks handle their Great Responsibility.
Aubrey was a child geek. One of her first Christmas memories was opening up an NES. Blaster Master was the first game she ever beat. Soon she discovered Marvel Comics and trading cards. Other moms might have been disappointed, but Aubrey’s mom embraced her little girl geek by taking her to comic book and video game stores. It was a fine example to set for Aubrey, future mother of two.
“I’ve heard horror stories of peoples’ parents throwing out their comic collection or D&D books and it’s a real shame. How much rejection must a child feel when their parent completely bans them from enjoying a hobby like that? The way I see it, if your kid is not doing drugs, getting into trouble with the law, failing in school, hurting someone else or otherwise engaging in self-destructive behavior and you don’t allow them some freedom to pursue their natural interests, you’re a horrible person and are breeding a ton of toxic, long-term resentment in your child.”
(See, I told you she doesn’t pull punches.)“How much rejection must a child feel?”
When it came time to start having a family Aubrey and her husband hashed out the ground rules. They have similar sensibilities about the culture, so they don’t have a problem with their kids being exposed to comics or gaming at any point, within reason.
“We probably won’t let our four or five year olds play Gears of War or anything [like that] until they are older, but stuff that’s more kid-friendly is definitely OK. They already have apps on our iPhones that make animal noises and such that they absolutely love!”
In comparison, my parents had it easy when it came to the culture. In 1982 even the porn Atari games (yes, they existed) were too crude to lead a young boy to depravity. Comic books were wholesome by any standard. Obsessing over anything can be a problem, but it was pretty hard to OD on Atari and Groo the Wanderer.
Today it’s different. Even the most involved parents have a hard time keeping up with the culture. Geek parents have an advantage in that they know the territory. But even a couple of geek parents understand what I’ve come to believe are keys to parenting: Thoughtfulness and moderation.
This seems to be the case with many of the geek parents I know. I think it’s because they are better informed than a parent who doesn’t bother to understand the comics or video games their kids enjoy. If they did, maybe they’d be sitting down and playing games with their kids instead of wondering “what the hell are they doing in there?”
“Gaming is the reason that our family started in the first place, and there's no one that can force us to let it go,” Aubrey said.
“But it’s also important for them [kids] to be able to experience the world and put the things they are exposed to in games into a bigger context.”