So, we’re going author, gamer, author, gamer in the the Games & Books & Q&A series, and as you pattern-recognition aficionados out there already know, that means it’s time for me to feature another children’s/YA author.

crankensteinSamantha Berger has written picture books including Crankenstein and its upcoming sequel, A Crankenstein Valentine, both illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown); the equally upcoming Witch Spa, illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Dial), and the (yes) upcoming Snoozefest, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (Dial). She has written cartoons and promos for Nickelodeon and other networks. Sam has also written comic books and commercials. In addition, she’s written movie trailers, theme songs, slogans, magazine articles, poems, TV-books, sticker books and professional books. Basically, you name it, Sam writes it.

CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?

SB: I’m a child of the very first games. We had Pong in my house, and my little brother and I spent long, long periods of time playing it. It was MESMERIZING.


The little DOOT… DOOT… DOOT… sound? The little light ball bouncing around the screen? I mean, you could do it for hours.

And we DID. (My first warning I could easily become an addict.)

Then Asteroids came out, and they had it in places like Pizza Hut.

Yeah it was in B & W and yeah it was basic, but somehow I was GOOD at it.

CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?

Samantha Berger right-side upSB: As a kid, I was never good at sports. What I loved about video games was that I was good at it. And it felt sporty …

… somehow.

Even though it was motor skills and hand/eye coordination and reflexes … it felt sporty. It felt like, if you could be a high-scorer, there was no possible way you could be picked last in gym.

Asteroids and Pong were the ONLY games I was good at. My little brother would go on to beat me, nay SLAY me in Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Atari, and everything else. I died fast and often. Many quarters were lost in mere minutes. It became … a lot less fun.

I vividly remember when Dragon’s Lair came out. It cost TWO quarters to play, and the animation was very advanced at the time, and I LOVED that about it.

… but I still sucked at it.

And that was kinda the end of my affair with the Game of Videos.

CB: What role do games play in your life today?

SB: I am not a gamer and don’t play any games whatsoever. This was a conscious choice, as I felt like, without careful self-monitoring, I could easily slip into a phase of playing them ALL THE TIME, NONSTOP, and using it as the perfect procrastination for writing!

And, with social media, and on-demand TV marathoning, and my dog, friends, and exercise, I have noooooooo problem with procrastinating or getting easily distracted already. So I drew a line and told myself not to tread in such dangerous waters.

Ironically, last week’s freelance gig had me NAMING a bunch of new digi-games for Sesame Street.

I’m happy to name them, but I just can’t play them!

I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.