It might be May, but in Southern California it feels like the middle of a steamy July. So what better way to spend a sizzling Los Angeles afternoon than hitting the air-conditioned digs of Electronic Arts for their EA Summer Block Party?
CC and I made our way over to the video game company's Playa Vista HQ and entered a campus that looked like a gamer's paradise. Flat-screen TVs with gaming consoles? Check. Old-school arcades? Check. On-site gym? Check. Little cafe with coffee and muffins in the lobby? Check. OK, maybe that last one is just my idea of paradise.
Once we got to party central, CC immediately donned a couple of festive leis and made a beeline for the beach balls. I wanted to check out the games. Since we don't have a Wii, Xbox or PlayStation at home and the last game I played was probably Super Mario Bros. (eek, did I really just admit that?), I was in slightly foreign territory but completely fascinated. I grabbed a lemonade and headed for a comfy couch, where I saw an image of Mr. Potato Head bouncing around onscreen. Child's play, I thought.
"You look like you could use some help," said a friendly voice behind me. He must have noticed me pushing buttons wildly and trying to pass it off as extreme gaming.
The nice EA guy helped me along with how to play Hasbro Family Game Night, which includes offerings like Scrabble, Connect Four and Battleship. CC sat patiently beside me, hoarding at least 11 beach balls, and watched as letters and images moved across the screen. Then a 3-year-old girl came by, chattering about how she had a similar game that was her favorite, and I think I aged about 1,000 years in five seconds. They really start 'em young, I thought to myself, and then looked at my 2-year-old. (Oh, hello, Irony.)
Wanting to see what else was on offer, we wandered around the joint, nibbling on some cookies and popcorn. I even helped CC stick her face through a cutout of Tiger Woods for a photo op (would post it here, but it was a Polaroid). Then we landed on a station that looked more her speed -- the Nintendo DS.
I see kids with these ultra-mini laptop-looking devices all the time. CC is still a little too young, but she did try out Littlest Pet Shop, where she was able to color way outside the lines on a cute little bunny. Then erase it all. Then re-color it, and so on. It was great having her yell out which color she wanted to try next. "Color!" "Pink!" "Green!" "Color!"
We didn't even make it to the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or The Sims 3 setups before we had to go. Other than the fact that it was time for dinner, I was afraid if I stayed too long, I might make a pit stop at Best Buy on the way home.
Instead we took the scenic route along Venice Boulevard, where I got to see Rydell High, er, I mean Venice High, as well as something truly perplexing. There is a sign at Venice and National that advertises getting your hair back for 67 cents each. Does that seriously mean 67 cents per hair?
It was hot, I was wiped out, but I'm glad I got the photo because I never would have believed myself in the morning.