Hate the Game


Many a red-state-American grandmother has spoken out against video games, but few have done so as incisively as 69-year-old Barbara St. Hilaire of Cleveland, Ohio, better known to her admirers as Old Grandma Hardcore ( Long before Hillary Clinton discovered the political virtues of Grand Theft Auto-bashing, St. Hilaire stood alone in condemning the early-’90s console classic Ecco the Dolphin, which she has described as “fucking annoying.” No less frank was her assessment of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (“game needs a fucking map”). And never, perhaps, has the bland insidiousness of Resident Evil 4‘s “friendly” Ashley character been so nailed as in Grandma’s pithy “Motherfucking whore won’t duck when I shoot!”

Happily, Grandma’s enthusiasm for video games (which, not counting time out for bingo, crafts, and agonizing post-knee-replacement therapy, essentially occupy her waking life) far outweighs her frustration. More happily still, her 22-year-old grandson Timothy has dedicated his summer break to getting it all down in audio, video, and the most humanely side-splitting online prose since The Onion‘s Very Special September 11 edition.

Between Grandma’s blue-collar bluntness (“How fucking stupid do you think I am?” she asks a doctor who suspects her of psychosomatic identification with her injured game characters) and Tim’s urbane running commentary (“If gaming was like writing Romantic era prose, Grandma would be Samuel Taylor Coleridge”), the St. Hilaires’ blog pulls off an almost miraculous critical hat trick, exposing the poverty not only of mainstream America’s handle on gaming culture, but of much game design and, alas, most game criticism as well. Clarion calls for a spirited, formally daring New Games Journalism have issued futilely for years, but the lively, multilayered intelligence on display at OGHC suggests those calls now have an answer. We have seen at last the future of the form, and its name, by God, is Grandma.