Ellie Gibson (Deputy Editor) - Fruit Mystery
"You will Enjoy the game."
There are three questions female games journalists get asked on a regular basis, as the other three female games journalists in the world know. The first one is, "Do you just sit around playing games all day?" (To be fair, I'm sure male games journalists get asked this too.) There is no right answer to this. If you tell the truth - "No, I also do some typing" - people tend to look a bit confused, or disappointed, and never know what to say next.
You can try throwing in a bit of self-deprecation: "Yes, sometimes. But sometimes the games are so rubbish that playing them is an utter chore, and on those days I'd much rather do your job than sit through another two hours of Wacky Family Sporty Party Wii or Generic Shooting Man Game 9." (NB: this doesn't usually impress nurses, teachers or abattoir cleaners.)
The second question is, "Hi, have you got any assets discs?" This is asked at press events by male games journalists who assume you are a PR woman. You can forgive them for this as the vast majority of women at press events are PR women. Besides, it's a compliment to be mistaken for a sophisticated, professional PR lady rather than recognised as a shambolic mess who was up till 4am playing Pokemon Puzzle League and couldn't find any tights without holes in this morning.
The third question is, "So... Do you actually like games?" This is the most difficult one to answer. And not just because your instinctive response is to go, "Not as much as lipstick or shopping or shoes obviously, but it was this or stripping." It's hard to answer because, for me anyway, the honest reply is, "No. The majority of them are mediocre, while almost all the other ones are rubbish. They're clichéd and derivative and predictable. If I see one more muscly shaven-headed man hiding behind a crate while throwing a grenade at a space monster and stabbing a Nazi in the face, I'm going into stripping."
But the key word there is "almost". Because every so often, even after all these years, I come across a game I love. A game that grabs my attention and refuses to let go. A game I just can't stop playing, or thinking about when I'm forced to stop playing and do tedious things like eat or maintain personal relationships. A game that, unlike so many of the other ones out there, is brilliant.
I wish I could subvert gender stereotypes here and say that those games include things like Gears of War, Call of Duty and Pro Evolution Soccer. But I couldn't give a toss about any of them. I am a girl and I like platformers and puzzle games. Yes, that's right - I'd rather play Ratchet & Clank than Resident Evil. I am not ashamed.
Other games I have loved in the last ten years include Diner Dash, Jak & Daxter, Bejeweled, Zuma and Pac-Man Championship Edition. I enjoyed not only Cake Mania but Cake Mania 2. I spent so much time playing Farm Frenzy over the bank holiday weekend that I rowed about it with someone I am supposed to maintain a close personal relationship with. Yes, I know many of those games are about as clichéd, derivative and predictable as you can get, but I love them anyway.
I also adore the Tomb Raider series, probably because it's the closest I'll ever get to living out my fantasy of having amazing adventures in exotic locations while performing spectacular acrobatics, blowing up dinosaurs with shotguns and having huge knockers. And I love the Burnout games, for reasons I don't understand myself (in real life I don't even have a driving licence, though I recently started having lessons. I was disappointed to learn that Traffic Checking is illegal).
So those are the games I have loved, but the game I love most? Fruit Mystery. No one can tell you what Fruit Mystery is, you must play it for yourself. And to understand its true genius, you must follow the two golden rules: put the sound on, and play it to the end. Ready? Go on then.
Fruit Mystery is all the things I love about games. It is brash and loud and clumsy and silly and pointless. The music makes me feel happy, even though it is terrible. The visuals cheer me up, even though they hurt my eyes. The gameplay is instantly accessible and suitable for all ages. And yet there is a dark, menacing undertone to it all which finally comes into its own for the shocking denouement. But most of all, Fruit Mystery is my favourite game because it's the funniest game I've ever played.
I've recommended Fruit Mystery to other people more than any other game. I've spent more time playing it than Gears of War, Call of Duty and Pro Evo put together, despite the fact it's 38 seconds long. Yes, it's completely stupid, but that's why I like it. Most videogames are stupid - at least Fruit Mystery is honest about it.
So to conclude, here are my three honest answers to those three questions:
1. No, I also do some typing.
2. No, **** off.
3. Yes, I do like games. Not all of them. I feel no more emotions towards most of them than I do towards, say, coat-hangers. I find many of them about as interesting. But I love some of them. What's great about games, and this is true more today than it was 10 years ago, is that there's something for everyone. I can have my Cake Mania and eat it, and you can have your Gears of Medals of Brothers of War in Space, and we can both be happy. Let's just try not to judge each other too much.