The one-armed gamer.

by PaulEMoz

When you've got an eight-year-old child, gaming is easy. You can play in your spare time, or if your child is around, you can play with them, thus ensuring the love of games will continue in the family. Once you throw a newborn baby into the mix, things are different. There's not really any such thing as free time, anymore.

I seem to be spending a lot of time with a baby in one arm. Often, it's post-feeding, waiting for him to drop off to sleep. But then, he might be out for a short while and then will wake up and be fussy. So you have to hold him again to try and soothe him.

They're not very interesting though, babies. They're cute, and fascinating, and amazing. But they're not interesting. They can't even tell you what their problem is, let alone have a meaningful conversation with you. And so you find yourself kind of hamstrung, looking after a tiny person that does nothing but eat and sleep and squawk and tie up one of your arms.

This is where my iPod Touch is showing its worth. In the moments where Ryan (our newborn) is settled, I can use my free arm to indulge in a spot of gaming. It might seem a little odd to have a baby in one hand/arm and a games machine in the other, but due to the nature of the touchscreen, it works. Or at least, it does in some cases.

Would it be too obvious to say "Oh, balls"? It would? Oh, OK.

A game that was recommended to me by many people is Orbital. It didn't sound too promising... fire numbered balls onto a playfield. The balls start with the number 3, then reduce with each hit until they disappear. Trouble is, their size depends on how much space is around them when they land. So if you shoot the ball and it lands in the middle of the playfield, it's going to fill most of the screen and knacker your game.

In practice, it's a work of maddening, addictive genius. Every single game ends through your own stupidity... you can never claim that the game itself was to blame. It's also hard. If you score over 100, you'll be doing very well indeed (clue: I haven't). And yet, it's got an incredible just-one-more-go factor to it. And for only 59p at the moment, it's an absolute bargain.

And you can play it using only your thumb. For the meantime, it's something of a Godsend.