It’s funny for parents to see unparents taking care of kids, and sometimes, we’re able to gain an incredible insight about our own parenting styles. I was reminded of this while reading Gus Mastrapa’s latest article, “Pressing Buttons With Arthur.” Unfortunately, I’m going to spend a ton of time here talking about Gus’ article instead of letting you just read it. But, if you do so wish, you can just hit the sauce to read his post now and forget we ever talked here.
The Backstory: I met Gus Mastrapa (pictured above in all of his glory) about 10 years ago, when the G4 network launched. I mean, I didn’t meet him at the G4 network. I was a budding video game journalist, and in G4’s infancy, they used a lot of the same core group of reviewers as experts on their shows. Gus was one of them.
Dubbed by my friends and I as “Ice Cream Gus” because in a particular set of interviews, it looked like Gus had just finished a delicious bomb-pop that left his mouth and lips red (he later clarified that it was from spicy peanuts, only to even later redact and reclarify that it was the hot and dry winds of Los Feliz, California). I digress.
I wanted to know how a guy like me could get to be a guy like Gus – living the good life, playing and reviewing games, eating luxurious bomb-pop fare and enjoying national coverage on a game-and-tech television network. I hunted Gus down, which wasn’t hard with the internet, even 10 years ago. Surprisingly, he invited me to go hang with him for an afternoon and geek out over all things games.
Years later, we feature a couple of game reviews on 8BitDad, but most of my time is busy playing trucks or telling my son not to eat the melted candy and equally-melted condoms he finds buried in the sand at local parks. My main focus has been fatherhood, and it’s been hard to peel myself away from it to lose myself in video games like I used to.
Gus has been somewhat of the opposite.
Gus isn’t allergic to kids the way you’d image most game writer/reviewers to be. But whenever we talk, he makes it clear that, for the moment at least, he’s glad that someone else is covering the fatherhood market. That’s why his latest article, “Pressing Buttons With Arthur,” was a great read.
Gus had babysat his 3 year old nephew Arthur for a week last year while his sister was on vacation. And like I said, it’s funny for parents to hear about those unparents having to do the day-to-day stuff. Inevitably, there’s a lot of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and begging involved, but also nowadays, video games.
“To Ross’ [Arthur’s father] credit, he came up with the clever idea of turning his son onto Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Ross throws the boy into the back of a kart and zips off. Arthur’s job is to fire off turtle shells and mushrooms,” Gus says. Ross and Arthur are becoming quite the gaming duo. This appeals to Gus at his basic level; every gamer secretly wants a kid, if for no other reason than to have a live-in player 2.
So, on a recent visit to his sister’s house, Gus was able to sit down with Arthur and satiate his inner-gamer-dad.
But, coordinating with a toddler is tough in the gaming world. Most of the time in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Gus and Arthur would press their throttle buttons at the same time, causing a boost at the beginning of the race. “Of course,” Gus says, “we didn’t always get the boost. ‘You didn’t press the green button,’ Arthur would accuse. ‘No,’ I’d reply. ‘You’re clearly the child. It had to be you who didn’t press the green button.'”
Gus admits that though he’s usually not entertained by kids’ stuff, it was “cool” having a couple brief moments of father-like gaming with Arthur. Has gaming with Arthur brought out Gus’ inner-dad and made him want a kid of his own?
“I know kids are supposed to be magical and all,” Gus says. “Just being within their pure, childlike aura is supposed to fill you with joy. I must be immune to their fairy dust.”
Well, okay. We’ll keep covering the fatherhood stuff then, Gus, and you just let us know how Mass Effect 3 ends, okay?