My aunt, uncle, and cousins came round today. I can never remember how old the cousins are... there's Tamsin, who's 11, and Ben and Mark, who I think are 9 and 6. The ordering certainly works like that. They all came around for lunch, which was all pretty cool. Exchanged christmas presents and all - so I now have a juicer. Guess I'd better dig up adventuredesign's home detox instructions again...
I've been mildly annoyed with my aunt recently, because she bought the kids Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It's 18-rated; she knows this. Her excuse? "They don't understand the implications." I resent the game industry taking flak for corrupting children when people like her are more or less ignoring the age ratings on games. When I found out that my Dad had got them the Spiderman 2 game for Christmas - which is rated 12+ - I asked him to take it back to the store and change it for another one (which he duly did - and The Incredibles was very well recieved).
Feelings towards my aunt eased up a little more recently when she told me that while she knew it was a violent game (and we diplomatically skipped the issue of whether she should have bought it in the first place), all that the kids tended to do was drive around - they didn't take much of an interest in the killing side of things. So, when the kids came round, I put that to the test - set them up with Burnout 3, which (aside from being, IMO, a pretty good game) is a lot more faceless than GTA. One could assume that there are people inside the cars you're ramming and crunching, but the game never mentions it, so for the most part you ignore it. In any case, Ben and Mark loved it, and it kept them occupied for a fair amount of time while Tamsin dragged me upstairs to find something else to do. (I don't know if Burnout appealed to her or not, but I only have two Xbox controllers at the moment).
A game that she frequently asks to play while she's here is Rollercoaster Tycoon, and today was no exception. For some reason, we ended up playing RCT1 up on my own machine, instead of RCT2 down on the family machine (I think it's because she asked for a few rounds of Gish first), but I just fired it up for her and she sat on my lap playing it while I watched her play. It was a very educational experience.
We started from one of my saved parks; the first order of business was, naturally, to find an appropriate person to be renamed "Tamsin." After discarding several people for being too hungry, tired, or not having enough money (discarding them, I might add, into a lake), my cousin found a sprite she was happy with, renamed it, and kept a window open to track it at all times.
Next up, she wanted to build a new coaster. RCT1 doesn't have any tools for speedy landscape clearance, so she gave me the task of right-clicking on individual trees to clear a space while she ran off to fetch her glasses. When she got back, we tried to fit a few of the predefined coaster layouts into the available space, but gave up after the first one we picked out wouldn't fit. So, I started building a custom coaster, with a little direction ("To start it should go up.. and then.. I don't knowwww, you make it up.")
Towards the end of the coaster Tamsin's ride-designer instincts seemed to return, as she proclaimed, "It should have a reeeeeally big drop at the end. And then after that, it should go up, and then down again." I managed to connect up a track, but warned her, "I think this is going to crash." Her response? "Cool!"
Sure enough, a huge drop followed by a second, smaller hill caused the coaster to fly off at the top of the hill. "Wicked!" exclaimed the 11-year-old girl in my lap. "Open it, open it!"
After resetting and running the coaster to achieve a body count of around 36 people, Tamsin decided that she was fed up with me, and found a person to rename 'Richard.' She picked me up and dropped me next to the coaster of death.. only, much to her chagrin, I wouldn't get onto the coaster. So she drowned me instead. After that, she found the guest list, and just went through it picking out the people with "sick faces" (that is, the ones who have high nausea levels) and drowning them, too.
I swear, the only reason she didn't cackle evilly is because nobody's taught her how to yet. I'm quite glad that RCT1 doesn't have guests of different skin colours and so on... because I'm not sure how she would have reacted to the opportunity to perform ethnic cleansing in her park, or gender cleansing, etc. And as far as I know, this is normal behaviour for an 11-year-old girl (I mean, she's not psychotic or anything. At least, not moreso than the average 11-year-old girl).