Like many women at her age, Isabel Martinotti, 82, is a doting grandmother. Unlike her peers, she is also an avid video gamer who has garnered internet fame in her native Argentina for handling a console with the dexterity of a teenager.
“I’m the ‘Gamer Grandma’ for everyone on the internet. They all want to be my grandchildren sometimes,” Martinotti told Xinhua at her home in the Buenos Aires district of San Cristobal, where she lives with her 27-year-old grandson German Gil.
It was Gil who realized Martinotti was no ordinary grandmother and decided to upload videos online of her expertly tapping away on the console.
Together they joke about whose turn it is to use the PlayStation, or “Play” as they call it.
“The Play is mine, end of discussion, and he knows it, so he can’t do anything about it,” said Martinotti, whose short grayish hair, tiny spectacles and elderly demeanor belie a mischievous and competitive spirit.
Their playful rivalry began some 15 years ago, when Martinotti bought Gil his first PlayStation but ended up becoming a fan of the game herself.
“We began to play, then came Final Fantasy and that was the end of his Play, because I loved it and spent hours playing,” she admitted.
When Gil’s friends sounded skeptical of his grandmother’s gaming ability, the two decided to go public.
“Going on the internet started out because his friends didn’t believe I played with the Play. Once I began to play at 7 in the evening and when I next looked at the time it was 5 in the morning,” said Martinotti.
According to Gil, a video of his gaming granny posted on Facebook received so many likes and hits that it eventually led to YouTube.
“I once posted a video to a Facebook group and it got a lot of reactions. I decided to give her her own page, and began to post videos there and they got lots of replays,” said Gil.
“Gamer Grandma” now has her own YouTube channel (Abuela Gamer ARG) with more than 9,000 followers. One of the latest videos, showing Martinotti sitting on the edge of the bed celebrating in front of a large-screen TV as she fells one of the bad guys, has been seen more than 50,000 times.
In another video, Gil pleads for some PlayStation time only to be rebuffed by his grandmother, who isn’t ready to give up yet.
“We share a lot of things, but not the Play,” he tells Xinhua.
Often, when Gil comes home from work for lunch, he says, “I want to play a little while, but it’s difficult because she is playing.” So, he will either go play on the computer or do something else entirely, like go to the gym.
While the two regularly vie for control of the console, they both agree video games have brought them closer together.
“Instead of grandmother-grandson, we became friends and he began to tell me about everything that happens outside of the house,” said Martinotti.
“What I wanted was to get closer to him,” she added.