Gilda: The Real Housewives star who slays on Call of Duty
Tuesday 18 Oct 2016 5:02 p.m.
You might not expect a Real Housewives star always dressed in Louis Vuitton and Gucci to play Call of Duty all night long and write an astronomy-based graphic novel.
But that's Gilda Kirkpatrick.
As a mother, author, TV star and business owner she hasn't had much time over the last few years to sit down and slay her enemies with a PlayStation, but not that long ago she says she was completely addicted.
"I used to just sit there and lock myself in for days of play," she says.
"From like 9pm or 10pm to, I dunno, 6am or something. I was like, really psycho. I did that for quite a few years."
Call of Duty is one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world, with a fanbase some critics like to stereotype as obnoxious, angry teen boys. But its appeal extends widely - enough for it to sell over 100 million copies and counting.
"I love the freedom, where you're running around shooting. Also the team effort, fighting together as a team," says Kirkpatrick.
"Some of the multiplayer maps are also based on real cities. When I went to Brazil, I wanted to go and see where I was playing on the Favela level. That was my favourite level on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. You feel like you're actually there, when you're sitting in a dark room in front of your TV.
"Because I studied architecture, I learned to do 3D stuff. So I really appreciate the work that goes into creating these 3D maps and cities. The details are just surreal. So visually I really enjoy it - and of course, shooting guns - I mean who doesn't?"
Kirkpatrick says she also really loved Rockstar's classic western Red Dead Redemption, but her love of pop culture isn't confined to the gaming realm.
A passionate fan of astronomy and cosmology, she's released two volumes of Astarons, a self-published superhero graphic novel that aims to teach children about the solar system. This astral passion was born during her childhood in Iran.
"When I was really young we used to go to a family estate outside of the huge concrete city I lived in and out there, you could sleep outside at night. It was very pleasant and the sky just looked crazy. Persia is in exactly the right place to really see the Milky Way. So that's where I developed my interest in space and stars and planets," says Kirkpatrick.
"Also, through school. Some of the oldest astronomers and philosophers in this world come from Persia. So through study, that's where I really became interested."
Teaching kids astrophysics via superheroes seems like an ambitious undertaking, but Kirkpatrick reckons it wasn't too challenging.
"It wasn't as difficult as I imagined it would be. When I actually thought about the idea of making the planets the homelands of the superheroes, that was a very simple concept that became the narrative driving force right through everything," she says.
"Everything I try to explain in Astarons, I've done with a visual device - whether it's a character that comes in, or an appearance or anything. Kids and adults, when they have visual aids to go along with text, they manage to obtain it a bit better."
Astronomy, graphic novels and gaming - that's about as stereotypically nerdy a combination of interests as you could get. Kirkpatrick is hesitant to put a label on herself, but admits to having a bit of a nerd streak, which she puts down to her diverse upbringing.
"I do say sometimes that I'm nerdy, because I do love to sit there and read something for hours or play games for days. It doesn't bother me, I'm not one of those people who needs people around all the time," says Kirkpatrick.
"I'm a migrant who comes from a very ancient country and have grown up with a lot of crazy things going on - war, revolution, bombing and guns. Then I've come to New Zealand, studied architecture, which made me fall in love with visual communication.
"I have friends here who have had amazing lives but maybe haven't been exposed to as many different things as I have. Also I've worked for the past seven years with a lot of people in the creative industries, where it seems everybody is into skateboarding and gaming and things like that. So I guess I just have an appreciation of it."
Her marathon gaming sessions are sadly now a thing of the past, says Kirkpatrick, as her busy workload simply doesn't allow for them.
"Since I had my second child I've been really busy, with everything I do it doesn't leave me enough time to dive into these things like I used to. The worst I do nowadays is just watch a lot of Netflix!"
More information on Astatrons is available now on its official website and the debut season finale of The Real Housewives of Auckland is screened tonight on Bravo at 8:30pm.