Whether you are wanting to share your love for video games with your girlfriend or just get your girlfriend to view your playing video games more positively, I aim to show you how you can share your love of video games with someone who might not have previously considered playing them, be it your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, mother, father, sibling or whoever.
Because this is cmdALTgamer, I’m going to take an alternative look at the situation, because one of the biggest mistakes in introducing a girlfriend to video games is to assume she is going to be bad at playing them. Truth is, a huge number of women, especially younger ones are already playing games. They may not have a console and put 80 hours into an RPG, but they are playing games. Even if they don’t think of themselves as gamers, most people nowadays have some experience with gaming. Video games may still be looked down upon as a childish art form but really it has crept into a large part of society. Social games, iPhone, the Wii, DS, it really is everywhere.
With that in mind, I’m going to take you through some of the games I’ve found to have been a great experience sharing with my girlfriend, and I’m not simply going to list a bunch of cutesy or easy games, because you never know, your girlfriend may be better than you at video games. I’m also not just going to list games that you have to convince her to play as player two, she may be reluctant to take up a controller and take you on and you shouldn’t try to force her, I will list a selection of games that have varying levels of involvement and interactivity for your girlfriend. A great example of this is my first game.
L.A. Noire – Good for backseat gamers
L.A. Noire is a detective drama set in post-war Los Angeles. You must find clues and interrogate suspects in order to solve a bunch of gruesome murders. It has an engaging story with great acting that draws you into the cases. I heard you crying “A single player game with graphic depictions of violent murder victims, how can I play that with my girlfriend?” I did say I was going to take an unconventional approach to this didn’t I? Obviously if your girlfriend is the type who hates media depicting gore, racism, abuse and general nastiness then probably give this a miss, if not, then hear me out. This is a perfect game to share with someone who has a phobia of controllers, because basically they can be a backseat gamer. Yes there are car chases and shoot outs in this game, but the main experience of it is the story and solving the mystery. Neither of which necessarily require a controller to enjoy.
One can take control, doing the driving and shooting and all the other technical bits, whilst another can simply watch and enjoy the story and get involved in cracking the cases. The backseat gamer can discuss clues, suggest places to search and assist in solving puzzles, but the best part comes with the interrogations. Every suspect and major character in this game has had a performance captured from a real life actor and it’s your job as the detective to spot when they are lying. Together with your partner you can decide on lines of questioning and whether to accept your suspects answer or push them harder to get to the truth.
A similar backseat gamer approach can also be applied to
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dripping with story everywhere you turn and a genuinely exciting dialog system there is much someone could get out of this game without actually playing it. Granted there is a lot more gameplay between the story and dialog “battles” but it’s during those dialog decision moments that it really shines as a shared game. The choices of conversation that you make have real consequences, you need to assess the personality of the character and make judgements on how they will react to different kinds of responses and questioning. Getting the dialog choices right can be the difference between someone helping or hindering you, depending on what you say a hostile character might surrender, kill a bunch of hostages, attack you or share with you important information.
Okay, so maybe I’m mentioning this with a bit of sarcasm but I really have enjoyed playing this with my girlfriend. Scopa is an Italian card game played with a forty card deck (you can use a standard deck just remove the 8’s, 9’s and 10’s). For anyone interested here is the Wikipedia entry explaining the rules.
The version of the game I learnt from my grandmother is no doubt (much like the dialect of italian she speaks) not something the rest of Italy would easily recognise. Yet the basics are the same.
So why am I suggesting this game, well firstly, a big barrier to a novice playing with a seasoned gamer like (I’m assuming) you are, is not how well they will be able to play, but how much better than it you are at them. Scopa is a great example of how competitive games can be fair and fun even between people with varying levels of experience. Basically what I’m saying is that although there can be a lot of tactics in the game, luck still plays a huge part, and luck will help the lesser skilled player feel they have a fighting chance, and often let them win.
When I first pick up a fighting game like Tekken or Marvel Vs Capcom my friends are happy to play against me, once I’ve learnt a bunch of combos and specials, suddenly nobody wants to play me, they feel like I’m too good, that I’ll beat them easily, which is never fun. But in a game based largely on luck, you rarely get that far ahead that you intimidate others into not wanting to play.
If you want to play competitive games with someone unfamiliar with video games, the look for games with this luck factor. Peggle is a good one, so is Bomberman to an extent.
Secondly I’m suggesting that if you have trouble getting someone you love to play computer games with, then there are countless traditional games you can play. Some of the ones I play include; Yahtzee, hangman, Pokemon the board game. It may even prove as a good stepping stone towards simple video games. Even if you can’t get your girlfriend to play on your Xbox or PS3 with you, wouldn’t you still like to have fun playing games with them.
The LEGO Series
These games are simple to learn, have great puzzles and are full of tons of unlockables and secrets. But best of all the range of movies and characters the games cover means almost anyone can find a LEGO game themed on something they like. For my girlfriend it was Harry Potter, together we played through the entire thing getting 100% completion and it was incredibly fun. Especially in this game it felt like you had a lot of freedom to do what you liked, often we’d just end up casting head shrinking spells on each other and breaking furniture.
The Pokemon games are great in the way that you can enjoy them as a solo experience but having a friend who also plays can add a lot of extra fun to them. Particularly with the Black and White games, there are many ways to interact with a friend provided they have the game and a second DS. Aside from the obvious trading activities like pokemon and battling each other, with the new C-Gear feature you can journey into another persons game, gain special powers and invite the characters from their game to visit yours. But if you really want to get in the good books of your girlfriend, catch their favourite Pokemon, breed an egg from it and send it to them, it’ll be a nice surprise when it hatches.
Pokemon games are in my mind one of the best examples of a games design allowing people of almost any skill to enjoy it and be challenged. Because you never really take any significant steps backwards when you fail (your Pokemon will always get stronger) you can with enough persistence make your way to the end of the game. Yet if you want more of a challenge, you can set your own goals, apart from beating the elite four, there are also a number of very tough trainers to find and battle, international tournaments and even the daunting task of collecting nearly 700 Pokemon. You decide how much of a challenge you want to take on.
This game is a whole lot of fun to play with friends; it has beautiful art work, easy to get into game play which builds into a brilliantly challenging experience with later levels, not to mention the fact that everyone speaks in pig-latin. Seems that this game has been over looked based on the fact that it’s a full retail game but it’s in 2D. Well there are plenty of 3D games out there that are awful, and you know what? Games like Sonic and Mario were some of the best games ever made despite being simpler than the glorious HD games we play today. Adding a third dimension or high resolution textures wouldn’t make Rayman any better (infact it would probably be worse). The local multiplayer is really solid in this game, everyone just does their own thing, bouncing around, slapping each other, reviving bubblised friends and going after lums. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much playing a video game.
One of my favourite games of all time. The premise is simple, you have a big sticky ball, you roll up stuff smaller than you, which makes you bigger and lets you roll up more stuff. Wonderfully whacky and colourful this and any other Katamari games you can find are well worth trying.
The controls are beautiful in their simplicity, so that almost anyone can pick it up with ease; just imagine the left stick is your left hand and the right stick is your right. Now imagine you are rolling a big snowball to make a snow man, push forwards with both hands and the ball rolls forwards, push more with the left hand and you’ll steer to the right. Pull with one hand and push with the other and you’ll turn on the spot. Simple enough right. That is really all you need to start playing and enjoying these games. As for playing with a friend you can play head-to-head, take it in turns completing levels and beating high scores or try co-op mode in which two players have to work together to guide a single ball, usually quite badly and hilariously.
I hope I’ve covered enough games there and given you some good ideas. Mainly what I wanted to do was to help people think differently about the problem. If someone isn’t that into video games then chances are you won’t get them to stay up all night playing COD multiplayer. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with video games and someone who isn’t that into them. If you want to share your hobby with your girlfriend, then talk to them, let them choose their level of participation, like I suggested with LA Noire, they may not even need to pick up a controller.