A Cool Review for Shine in the Guardian

Shine by Candy Gourlay
'A precious and important novel that also explores exile from neighbours, family and country. The book is about reinvention and the faces we present to the world, whether it be in person, on a postcard or on the internet, all wrapped up in an exciting and perfectly paced story with a disturbing and dramatic climax.'
Philip Ardagh, The Guardian
Read the review

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mum of Warcraft: my autobiographical story on Tesco Magazine Kids' Book Club

Yes, dear reader, Mum of Warcraft is based on my absolutely true story as a part-time computer game fanatic. Check out my Mum of Warcraft story on the Tesco Magazine Kids' Book Club (with apologies to Zhang Ziyi from whom I borrowed this magnificent pose)

So I just found out that my story is up on the Tesco Kids' Book Club.


Tesco Magazine Kids Book Club

It's called Mum of Warcraft - and yes, that's a play on the hit multiplayer online role-playing game that some of my young friends have become badly addicted to.

Parents, look away now, because I'm about to make a confession.

I was badly addicted to my children's computer games.

Well, not to all of them, but to two in particular.

One was Age of Empires. It's a strategy video game in which you build competing civilizations and armies - collecting resources, upgrading technology, planning entire towns - and watch to see which civilization survives. I played under the name 'Attila the Mum'.

I competed with my sons for computer time on that game ... what I didn't tell them though was that I continued playing through the night, after they'd gone to bed. When my husband was away, I could play until three in the morning, secure in the knowledge that no grown-up was going to stop me.

Screenshot of typical carnage on Age of Empires. I LOVED Age of Kings, its second upgrade. Image from RSTC

The other game I loved was Sim City. It's the town planning game which later gave birth to the far more popular game The Sims. I never got into the Sims, but I could spend HOURS on Sim City.

A screengrab from SimCity3000. I could play this for hours. Once, I did so well that the Sims built a  statue in my honour! Picture from GamesHunter
I loved the Toy Story game as well but I was lousy at using a game pad so unfortunately I never got very good at it.


In Mum of Warcraft, a boy named Jack finds his mother's addiction to computer games annoying (full disclosure: one of my sons is named Jack).

He is especially displeased when his mum falls into the habit of hanging out with his friends, discussing strategies for playing one particular game.

I'm afraid the Mum hanging out with son's friends scene was totally autobiographical.

I didn't know any people my age who enjoyed playing Age of Empires, so when I went to collect my then nine year old son from school, I used to stand around with his friends, discussing AOE cheats and strategies. (I've read that Noughts & Crosses author Malorie Blackman used to be into games too, but I didn't know her then)

I only stopped when my son Nick told me he didn't like me chatting to his friends and would I please stop.

The problem with being addicted to your own child's computer game is that you absolutely have no credibility when you do that yelling thing up the stairs, 'TURN THAT GAME OFF!!! What's wrong with you modern children? When I was young we sang around the campfire,  played board games, blah blah blah etc etc.'

The good thing of course is I have absolute authority when I say: 'You guys are totally addicted. I know what addiction is like because I was addicted to computer games too.' The only part of that which is slightly dishonest is the 'was' because my addiction is not in the past tense. Yet.

Space Invaders. Thanks to Original Game Screenshots

I cannot tell a lie: I always thought computer games were cool.

I remember saving up to play Space Invaders at the supermarket in the 1980s - if I were told then that in the near future everyone would have their own game consoles at home, I would have found it hard to believe!

Why did I stop playing?

I haven't really ... just taking a break to do grown-up things like write novels, bring up children.

But what's this I hear, Age of Empires Online?

Somebody, stop me ...


Thanks to Jack who took the photo of me with my warrior face on for photoshopping

7 comments :

  1. You are one complex character! Love the pic :-)

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  2. I completely understand. That's all I'm saying.
    Not that I'd know anything about computer games. At all. Especially not Tiny Zoo.I HATE THOSE SNIDEY GREEN PIGS ON ANGRY BIRDS.

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  3. Love the picture, Cainds.... and love your story too! :) Felicitations! :)

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  4. I wanted to photoshop myself as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider but I just couldn't cope with the pneumatic figure.

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  5. @Kathy - you are at a different level of computer gamedom from me ... I haven't upgraded from my PC CD Roms yet!

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  6. I seem to go through different levels of video game addiction. Actually, I'm probably not addicted, because I haven't played a game on my own for months, just with the kids. Maybe it's time to reintroduce myself to the joys of the games console?

    I do find an affinity for games to be very helpful as a children's writer, because you see how important and exciting they are for the audience. And it's surprising how game elements and situations seem to seep into my writing!

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  7. Brilliant photo! And love this post. And I know exactly what you're saying about understanding the addiction. I'm constantly yelling at my kids to get off the damn computer while closing the door to get on mine. We know of what we speak. xx

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