Playing: Splinter Cell Blacklist (WiiU) Watching: 24: Live Another Day Listening to: The Shins
My wife is not a gamer. Bless her heart she’s tried, and she sits there with a fake smile on her face and a book in her hands whenever I play something as sleep-inducing as Nino Kuni. But she’s just not into it, and that’s okay. Over our relationship I have noticed that games fall into a few different categories. And while I don’t necessarily pick and choose my games according to what she likes, I have definitely learned to identify which games appeal and which games don’t appeal to the non-gamer. The following is a guide for you fellow dorks who are looking for the signs.
Fun to play together:
Multiplayer games that are quick to pick up. Non-gamers don’t want to invest the time in learning a backstory or trying to memorize a complicated control scheme. Also avoid versus modes if you want to save your relationship. A seasoned veteran going up against someone who’s only doing this to appease you is a sure-fire way towards loss of interest. Pick games that you can co-op campaign through but don’t have to invest serious amounts of play time to.
Recommendations: Left 4 Dead, Portal 2, Super Mario 3D World, Rockband.
Fun to watch:
Games with great cinematic presentation can trick your significant other into thinking you’re watching a movie. Pick games with plots that are simple yet engaging. Mass Effect is NOT simple. Another good incentive to watch is if you pick something that has a very basic concept where it is easy for a couch partner to be able to give you tips or advice. Again, if you’re choosing something with a lot of play mechanics that need to be learned to understand what’s going on, they’re going to lose interest.
Recommendations: The Last of Us, Uncharted, The Walking Dead.
Boring as Hell:
This is basically everything else. It can be frustrating when the most fun game that you have is the most boring piece of crap you could put on the screen for them. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. And every once in a while you think you’ve found a gold mine of fun for you and fun for her, only to have her fall asleep ten minutes in. My wife had zero interest in GTA5 this year, which is both cinematic and easy to conceptualize. But the problem there is that with a sandbox game, there is not enough direction for a viewer. A player can have fun exploring each aspect of an open world game, but for someone who’s watching it’s just a person wandering around aimlessly for hours. Each game is a learning experience, and it’s my duty to pay attention.
Stay away from: JRPGs, Open World, Late entries in established franchises they know nothing about.
In closing I just want to say be mindful of who you’re gaming around. My wife is so awesome because she supports and loves that I’m so into this media, even if she’s not. She’ll sit there and suffer through something that’s as interesting to watch as paint drying just because she knows it’s top shelf to me. But because of how cool she is about it I also have to be mindful that during our ‘together’ time I’m not just churning away at games like Skyrim that often involve walking through forests for 20 minutes before something cool happens.
The key is finding someone who’s not going to ask you to turn it off, but also knowing when to turn it off yourself. It can be a tricky balance, but just be mindful of who the non-gamer in your life is. I think my wife appreciates it too, because I’ve spent a lot less time clothes shopping lately and I have to think there’s a connection there…