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Talking about video games with Christina Aguilera is not an everyday occurrence. You might even say it’s a one-off. Yet Tuesday’s grand one-off saw the legendary pop powerhouse partner with Nintendo and participate in a virtual session where she expressed her interest in and love for colorful, family-oriented games and even raced through some of the newly remastered courses in one of her favorite titles: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The singer’s enthusiasm for games is nothing new. On her Instagram account, in between posts dedicated to new and old music, instruments, touring snaps and nostalgia, Aguilera includes a photograph of gaming hang-outs with her kids, Max and Summer; as well as solo tournaments of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
As it turns out, video games have been a staple in Aguilera’s life for years. “They were such a part of my childhood,” the songstress tells The Hollywood Reporter over Zoom, explaining that she began on the NES system, “back when you only had pretty much two or three characters to choose from.”
Aguilera says she was “always raised on Nintendo” and that games are an activity she shares with her sister, Rachel. When the pair were growing up, Aguilera says, they would come home from school and feel compelled to practice and improve their strategies. “Because it’s not just about gaming and it being just a fun game; you really get into the competitiveness of it,” says the singer. “It leads to so much laughter.”
Even to this day, Aguilera and her sister have “so many inside personal jokes” that they share in reference to certain games they played in their pre-teen years. And now as adults, they enjoy bringing their families into the mix.
“We literally have couple’s game nights,” Aguilera says. “Life gets so serious sometimes and we don’t want to talk about ‘how’s school?’ and this and that; it’s important to get us out of our daily lives sometimes and have a moment of release and escape to do something so playful and fun, until we have to go back to our regular scheduled lives.”
During the pandemic, Aguilera shares that she and her family definitely had more time to play games together. “Being hunkered down at home, being able to cozy up on a couch or your bed with your kids, it’s a time of intimacy and bonding that sometimes you wouldn’t otherwise get when you’re sitting at a dinner table all in separate seats.”
Aguilera calls herself a homebody, noting that most of her life has been lived on the road, touring. “And there’s a lot of anxiety sometimes that comes with that and performance pressure,” she says, adding that she takes games on the road with her “as a form of decompression.”
While the Nintendo Switch is what Aguilera takes these days when she’s out and about, her gaming setup used to be considerably more involved. “Before, I used to be a lot,” she says, laughing. “I literally had a road case that was set up with a television inside of it that you could unlock in the concert venues or arenas, and [it] had a whole Nintendo setup in it,” she recalls.
“Now that you have the Nintendo Switch that you can just pick right up and take on an airplane if you want to and play, or wherever your travels may take you, it’s such a great source of on-the-go fun, which my lifestyle calls for a lot.”
Aguilera says she tends to go for the “cozy games that don’t apply so much activity,” but she’s well aware that the joy-con wristbands can be used to dance or get exercise through boxing, tennis and other virtual sports.
Should Aguilera ever star in an adaptation of a video game or lend her voice to one, she says she would want to portray a “fun, playful animated character” that doesn’t need to be reflective of her own personality. “That would be a dream.”
More specifically, Aguilera homes in on some particular sounds that attract her attention. “I love character voices,” she says. “Sometimes, me and my sister — we go for the characters that have the most interesting voices. My sister is Waluigi and I’m Wario. They can get really snarky with each other and they’re just the funniest characters.”
As for characters or stories that the singer would love to potentially see appear in future games, Aguilera declares that the sky’s the limit. She marvels at the different worlds and the different countries that you can visit in Nintendo games, such as soaring beside the Eiffel Tower in the Paris Promenade track of Mario Kart, or visiting Tokyo in another race in the robust menu of imaginative offerings.
But at the end of the day, she’ll leave that brainstorming “to the actual game creators.”
As the chat with THR winds down, Aguilera emphasizes that gaming is “extra special” to her as a mother given she’s able to enjoy the activity with her children: “I know they’re going to be able to carry these nostalgic memories with them through their lives, and hopefully pass down to their kids.”
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