It has taken four years, but I finally managed to get my non-gamer girlfriend to play video games with me. As an avid gamer, I desperately wished to share that passion with her. I was incredibly persistent but more importantly patient.
One thing you need to realize when attempting to convert non-gaming heathens is that even the simple things are intimidating. To the un-indoctrinated, the controller alone may seem to be an object of great power and sorcery.
One of my first attempts was Portal. I saw the humor and out of the box problem solving as a great way to introduce her to my world…er…technically Chell’s world. Well I suppose that is also Gordon Freeman’s world, but I digress.
Upon getting her hands on the controller, after my careful instruction, she proceeded to fail hilariously. What you and I consider to be second nature, walking provided a challenge on par with completing ‘Dark Souls’. I attempted to mitigate this by placing my hands over hers to allow her to feel the motion of my hands. At this point, it just got awkward and uncomfortable.
When my birthday rolled around the corner, I made sure to bribe her. “Lyss, it’s my birthday. You have to play Halo with me”. This was…interesting. She eventually gave in and I booted up the Halo Combat Evolved Co-op Campaign on easy. Again, walking provided a challenge on par with LASO (Legendary All Skulls On).
Eventually, she clumsily began to manage navigating the Pillar of Autumn. Upon receiving our shiny new hand-cannons from Captain Keys, she was to be tested in combat.
Her first foe was a grunt name Pip Yip. He had his back turned and was the first enemy we encountered. I sat back and instructed her on how to make a clean kill. Rounds emptied from her magazine, bullet casings fell to the floor, yet our foe stood tall.
When she recalls that day in her head, she wonders how I knew where to go! “That place was a maze! How would you know where to go playing it for the first time?”
The simple mission turned into an escort mission with grunts and elites dropping by my hand as my girlfriend proceeded to spoon the walls.
By this time, I began to feel discouraged. Gaming is an important part of my life and I struggled with the fact that I may never be able to share that with her. Then one day I had a scheme. Telltale Games had recently released its first season of The Walking Dead. It was loosely a game and mostly a movie. The controls and premise were simple and engaging enough.
I sat her down and booted it up, and to my surprise I got her hooked. Upon completion of the first episode she wanted more! I was overjoyed! This was a small win, but a win nonetheless.
As further episodes were released I gradually gave her more control. Instead of holding the controller myself, I would pass it off to her. Yes, she sometimes failed hilariously, but she failed less and less as time went on. Telltale acted as an appropriate stepping stone to greater complexity. These games allowed her to familiarize herself with holding and using a controller. The doubt and awkward feelings she felt playing other games subsided here.
We went on to play other Telltale titles like ‘The Wolf Among Us’, ‘The Walking Dead Season 2’, and currently ‘Game of Thrones’. She is much more comfortable in my world.
As a compromise I submitted myself to dancing awkwardly in public, but I think I won. She now feels more comfortable gaming with me and she is now graduating to more complex games like South Park: The Stick of Truth. Hopefully one day I’ll get her to attempt Halo again.
Our journey isn’t over, and I will continue to persuade/pester her into gaming with me, but now I know we are making progress.