After my last article (in which I declared my position on gaming in relationships) I realized that while I made clear that no person in a relationship should be made to feel ridiculous or juvenile for their gaming passion (or any passion really) I didn’t really offer an alternative.
You see, for my friends who I found were ashamed of their gaming (because their SO had wasn’t a gamer themselves), I didn’t just shout in their face that they should bail if the person they love doesn’t perfectly understand them- so to do so in an article is really not being fair to readers.
You see, a lot of the stigma with gaming in relationships arises from a lack of understanding and knowledge. A lot of adults these days either weren’t fortunate enough to have parents who would buy them games (which I totally get, coming from a ridiculously poor family with five kids gaming was pretty low on the essentials list) or weren’t interested in their youth because of the limited variety of games available at the time and therefore never developed a love, or even interest, in gaming in general.
I’ve noticed this is less and less of a problem as you look at teenagers/kids these days; it’s rare for children today to not have some exposure to electronic gaming fun- be it through an Xbox, an iPad or a LeapFrog, people are gaming at higher and higher rates and younger and younger ages.
So what if you’re with someone (or you have a friend, a coworked, a mom, etc.) who doesn’t really get gaming? My solution has always been to…simply expose them.
And I don’t mean barricade them in a dark room and force them to play Silent Hill 2.
I mean introduce them to the world of gaming; it may sound impossible but trust me- I’ve converted dozens of people including family members friends, boyfriends, sorority sisters, and even my grandmother into lovers of some game or another.
It’s all in the introduction and presentation.
So without further adue I give you the incredible simple and easy to do
“Get Someone Into Gaming How-To”
(For the sake of clarity let’s call whoever you want to get into gaming a “Pre-Gamer”- also, there is no need to keep this a secret, undercover mission, I almost always tell whoever I’m getting into gaming what my goal is and I’ve never had someone get upset).
This should be something you do anyways with your Pre-Gamer, but now’s the time to pay even closer attention. What kind of books does he/she like? Television shows? Hobbies? Even better, what was a childhood love of theirs? (If you figure this out you’re golden, everyone wants to get back to childhood fun times, and figuring out exactly what that was makes figuring our their first game even easier).
Find out what it is about the Pre-Gamer’s interest that really fascinates them- Are they interested in story? Relationships? Action? What gets them interested in whatever they love? Once you have that identified Step 3 is a snap.
This is easy (this whole thing is easy)- go to the nearest Gamestop and ask an employee about the interests your Pre-Gamer has. This is actually important, don’t just go on Amazon and get a game you think that they would like. It’s very difficult to be an impartial gamer; chances are you’ll tend to pick something that you like and won’t look twice at a game they probably would have enjoyed but you aren’t interested in. Again, DO NOT PICK OUT THE GAME YOURSELF. The only situation where this is acceptable is if your Pre-Gamer sees you playing a game, instantly connects with that game and wants to take the remote from you and learn it. This will most likely never happen with a Pre-Gamer due to low self esteem when it comes to gaming so don’t count on it and just remember to ask a third impartial party who knows neither you or your Pre-Gamer: an employee at GameStop is your best bet.
Don’t drop $60 on your Pre-Gamer’s first game- buy the used copy (in case he/she hates it you can always return it within the two-week return time). Or better yet borrow the game from a friend. Or use Gamefly. JUST DON”T BUY IT NEW- that puts waaaay too much pressure on your Pre-Gamer.
Step 5: Approach the Pre-Gamer with the Game
(Make sure you do this on a weekend or something, definitely not when they are busy or rushing out the door).
Explain why you think this game would be a good fit, be it Viva Pinata or Dark Souls, make sure to use words they used earlier when explaining what they loved about their interests. Make the connection for them between what they already like and what is in this game.
Make sure you turn on the game, and play maybe the intro with them (you playing, not them) so that they can see the game for themselves without feeling fearful about performing correctly. Don’t show off your mad gaming skills, and don’t talk down to them, just walk them through the first ten minutes or so, again highlighting the things they are interested in.
Now here comes the most important step of all…after you give them the game…
Step 7: LEAVE THEM ALONE AND LET THEM PLAY AT THEIR OWN PACE
Don’t force them to play the game. They will probably be interested and want to play immediatly (I have never had a Pre-Gamer not want to immediately try their new game) but Pre-Gamers aren’t good at gaming. They may have excellent eye-hand coordination or be a super genius, but that doesn’t change the fact that a remote (or keyboard and mouse) are not intuituve devices; a non gamer doesn’t deal with them intensely on a day to day basis and therefore needs time to practice without fear of scrutiny.
Which, when you get down to it, is why a lot of people don’t like video games. They are embarassing to play if you have an history with them and can make even the most self-confident person feel like an idiot if they’ve never encountered a wii -mote before. Give them time to practice and figure out gaming for themselves. Once you’ve found a game that gets them interested you’ll find that any Pre-Gamer will push through the awkwardness of learning how to play.
It’s very important that you let your Pre-Gamer play without fear of being judged by you, who they undoubtedly view as a good gamer. I promise, give them a few weeks (or in some cases, one hour) and they will be calling you back and see what they’ve done, found, etc.
Which leaves the last step.
Step 7: Let Them Enjoy Their Game and Don’t Push Your Gaming Preferences on Them
Listen, we all have our video game niches and can’t understand why someone wouldn’t love our favorite game. But games are like books, films, and all other media forms- we all have different tastes. Now this might mean your Pre-Gamer becomes a Gamer who loves something you find awful (for example, my little sister absolutely loves Raccoon City multiplayer sequels and my younger brothers loves Ray-Man, and I really can’t stand either even though I introduced them to gaming) but that’s ok. Even if you love Call of Duty and he loves Oblivion I promise you will find some middle ground sooner rather than later (maybe Left 4 Dead?)
The goal here is to introduce your Pre-Gamer to the amazing world of games and to get them to share your passion. It doesn’t have to mean you have the exact same passions (if you love Salted Carmel and she loves Rocky Road, don’t you both love ice cream?) but it does get you to a place of better understanding while broadening your Pre-Gamer’s horizons.
And just for those of you who feel that the person you’d like to get into gaming could never make the jump, here’s a few Gamers I put through these steps once upon a time.
Sorority Sister Loves: Dressing Up/Makeovers Childhood Love: Paper dolls
First Game: Doll Divine (online)
Second Game 1 Month Later: Oblivion (I got her into changing outfits and creating a character)
Third Game 2 Months Later: Dragon Age
Now? She calls me to let me know when fantasy games are coming out
Grandmother Loves: Crocheting, Knitting (Repetitive hobbies) she also loved reading The Lord of The Rings to my Mom
First Game: Actually, World of Warcraft (repetitive, fantastical setting where she gets to socialize)
Now? She still plays World of Warcraft, she was in a guild for a while but prefers starting new chars and building them up to raiding
Older Sister Loves: Working out, her kids Childhood: Used to dance
First Game: Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (she could dance and play with her kids)
Now? Was the first person I knew to have a kinect and has every game for it, does Zumba on it too!
So you see anyone can become a Gamer of some kind, it’s just figuring out what keeps them interested enough to push thrm through their initial fear of technology (or silliness, or not being good at it, etc.)
To conclude, if you’re in a relationship or are friends with someone who would benefit from having games in their life I highly suggest you try my incredibly easy how-to…and then let me know how to goes!