By William D. Parkman III
Siphir Gaming & Technology Editor
WillParkman.com Executive Editor
I know many gamers have a significant others in their lives that careless about the medium of video games and feel they are a waste of time and don't serve a use. But today I'm here to help your relationship and bridge the gamer divide within your relationship. The advice will be useful for non-gaming men or women, married or not, it doesn't matter. As long as they're open minded to learning something new, then we got a chance to bring them over to the "Dark Side", of gaming all night, going to midnight game launches, and searching the internet for the best per-order deals.
It's hard to overcome the preconceived notions about playing games by verbally telling someone, you have to go the extra mile and show them visually and let them interact from the beginning. The worst thing you could do is just sit them down and make them watch you play, because they will become distant and feel that it is too complicated to learn. So you want them engaged and in control as you help them along.
I'll tell you how I got my wife in to gaming, back when she was my girlfriend and she knew that I played games but not to the extent of having my own gaming room with every console from ColecoVision to the most recent at that time the Sony PlayStation 2, Sega Dreamcast, and Nintendo GameCube, with a library that rivaled GameStop retail stores. This was especially apparent when my mother told her my gaming habits as a kid, can you say embarrassed. At that time I thought everyone stayed in the house during a 90 degree summer days to finish Resident Evil on the Sony Playstaion One. But I think that I was ahead of the curve when it came to gaming because now gaming is a multibillion-dollar business.
Let me stop my rambling and get back to my story. My wife never was a game player, she would say “she was a great Mario Bros. player back in the day”, but in my mind that meant she never really played games in the first place. So I had to figure out what game I could use to get her interested, so I thought Tetris, but that seemed like something you let your grandmother play, so then I thought Nintendo’s Pokemon video games, but at that time kids were crazy for the cartoon series and the video games released on the Nintendo Game Boy and Nintendo 64 and I knew she wouldn't play a game that she thought was geared toward kids. So I looked at Electronic Arts Sims gaming series, but I know she was not interested in a dollhouse sim.
So when the Nintendo GameCube was released in November 2001 I hoped to find a game title that would interest her and to my surprise on September 2002 that title was Animal Crossing. Animal Crossing was cute game that meshed the Sims type game with animals characters. At first my wife wasn't interested but after I explained the premise of the game, telling her that you create a character, choosing your name, gender and your appearance is determined by questions asked before you enter the town. When you arrive at the town you notice that the game is played in real-time which means, the game uses the internal clock of the GameCube to determine the time of day in the game world and the game observes the real holidays so if you play on Christmas in the game it's "Toy Day".
Players have to complete tasks and also have goals they can achieve throughout the game while interacting with the town’s people. I think the most interesting aspect of the game was at the beginning of the game; the player is given their first house with a mortgage. And the debt for the house can only be paid with in-game currency earned from a part-time job with the town's storeowner called Nook. But the hook that keeps you coming back, is as you pay the debt off your house is expanded, which automatically refinances your mortgage and continues your employment so you can expanded your house several times during the course of the game.
Then I told her that we could create are own characters and interact with each other in the virtual world, I believe that notion peaked her interest. So the first day she played the game for a few hours and as the days past I noticed her playing when I got home from work and when she had a day off she would play all day. One of the games attractions was the ability to collect items through purchase, gifting, and discovery, which sometimes involved a specific times and places. This activity started a very competitive exchange between us, to see who could collect all the items and payoff the their mortgage fastest.
At this point I thought I was going to win because I had years of video gaming experience, but I didn’t take into account that new gamers want to experience the full aspect of the game and this is really obvious when they think outside the box. My wife took that to a whole new level. She found a loophole in the game, wherein you could create different city by using multiple memory cards and she also changed the GameCube’s internal clock six months ahead so when you traveled to a different city you get a totally different experience and was able to collect items specific for that time period. Also we figured out that if you connect a Nintendo Game Boy Advance to the GameCube an island would appear within the game world, giving you yet another place to visit for items. At this point I knew that I created a gaming monster, but that was really was evident until I saw her in another room with the wireless GameCube controller while still fishing within the game. All I could think was my wife became the Jedi Master of Animal Crossing. And as time went on she played more games in the causal genre, such as Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Bejeweled series, Cut the Rope, and her current favorite Angry Birds.
The games to stay away from are MMO's because they can be very complicated to learn especially the vast elements of games like World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars or any other countless MMO’s. Also stay away from realistic racing or sports games, because they can be really frustrating to learn for someone new to video games, especially if they’re not interested in that specific sport. These are great games and should be played when your significant other gets more comfortable using the different configurations of video game joysticks, motion controllers, keyboards, and mice, making the transition easier on them as the player and you as the player/teacher.
I’m not trying to make your significant other into a hard core gamer, who eats, sleeps, and lives video games. I’m looking to help your significant other become a game player, so you and that person can enjoy an hour or two of gaming, while in the process you get to spend some quality time with each other and have fun too. Now I will list some game titles that will help bring your significant other into video gaming. Good Luck!
Animal Crossing: City Folk
$19.99 · Wii
Animal Crossing: City Folk continues the fun and addictive (in a good way) game play, with one addition everyone wanted “online multi-player with voice chat”.
LEGO series (Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones)
Varied Prices · 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, NDS, PSP, PC
The Lego video game series is a great intro into gaming it takes away the frustration of traditional video games with easy controls and a familiar iconic toy we all know and love, you can’t go wrong with this choice.
Super Mario series
Varied Prices · Wii, 3DS, NDS, NES, SNES, N64, GC
Super Mario continues its classic game play that has mesmerized all of us since we first played Super Mario Bros. on the NES in 1985….damn I’m old!
$59.99 · PS3
Imagine creating your own video game and playing with your friends in your living room or across the country, what I just described was the hit video game series LittleBigPlanet.
Fighting Games genre
Varied Prices · 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, NDS, PSP, PC, Mac, Mobile
The one-on-one fighting game is a new game players dream, with simple kick, punch, and block buttons, the learning curve is low and the fun factor of the first win and first winning streak is a moment your significant other won’t forget. Take my word for it, my wife has never forgot the day she beat me in Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur IV.
Video Game Suggestions
Kinect Sensor with Kinect Adventures! (360)
PlayStation Move - Motion Controller & Navigation Controller (PS3)
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)
The Sly Collection (PS3)
Soul Calibur IV (Wii, 360, PS3)
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time (PS3)
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time (PS3)
Heavy Rain (PS3)
Dance Central (360)
Plants vs Zombies (Mobile, PC, Mac, 360, PS3)
Angry Birds (Mobile, 360, PS3, Wii)
The Sims 3 (PC, 360, PS3, Wii)
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (360, PS3)
Katamari Forever (PS3)
Beautiful Katamari (360)
Dead or Alive 4 (360)
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (PS3, 360, NDS, Mobile)
Fable II (360)
Fable III (360, PC)
Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
Super Street Fighter IV (360, PS3)
Just Dance 2 (Wii)
Wii Sports (Wii)
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
Mario Kart (Wii)
Wii Fit (Wii)
Mario Bros. (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario World (Wii: Virtual Console)
Paper Mario (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario 64 (Wii: Virtual Console)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
Super Mario All-Stars (Wii)
This list is only a small fraction of games that I believe can bring the barrier to entry into video gaming down for the masses, so if you have a suggestion or a if you have any questions about any game, feel free to email or message me on Twitter @willparkman.