Becoming a gaming couple Part 2: When he has lived in a closet his whole life.

When Ymiris wanted me to write this, I was a little stunned. We commonly hear problems about a male wanting to game in a relationship, and the difficulties bringing his wife around to his point of view. In fact, the usual response when I broached the subject to others was usually:
Step 1: Say “Sweetie, I think we should buy a 360.”
Step 2: Pick him up off the floor.

All joking aside, it is quite likely that a girl that has enjoyed gaming most of her life finds a man that is considerate, kind, and has a hobby .. like.. oh I don’t know… growing carnivorous plants.. instead of destroying bugs and spreading their demonic blood across an apocalyptic terrain. Yeah, it could happen.

The questions I have seen more is how to get games for your child.. or how to get your parents into gaming. I beleive the answers are the same, no matter who you are trying to intrdocue, and so I am going to tailor this advice to be valid whether you are male or female, trying to introduce your spouse or even your grandparents into gaming. This will hopefully get your foot in the door.

There are 3 preliminary steps you will need to take before introducing someone to gaming:

1) Do some Research. Find out what games your target has ever enjoyed in the past, video or otherwise. Then look at what hobbies they enjoy, whether it be music, puzzles, growing things, animals, etc.

2) Find a Game. Putting the hobbies and past games together will give you a rough first step on what a “gateway” game would be. There is a game for almost everything, and I will give you a few examples below on what I suggest.

3) Play the game before introducing it to them. Open up a few stages, and make sure you know how to show them the controls. Then PLAY IT WITH THEM!!

Step one is, for the most part, self explanatory. Sharing your favorite pastime with someone means you should probably know something about theirs. If this is your husband, and he enjoys raising fish, you probably already know the names of his favorite species, or what he is planning on putting in the tank next. It also helps to understand what they like about their hobbies/past games. If it’s 50 cats, is it watching the cats grow, or watching them interact? If it is reading, is it growing an attachment to a fictional character or getting lost in an imaginary world? Is it the the social groups of going to clubs, the dancing, or the music? Is it the puzzle solving of watching CSI?

A “gateway” game is one that can be easily figured out, easily started, and progressive (to keep them coming back). It’s usually a classic in some way or another, and it has probably introduced others to gaming, so it will probably have a following. Here are a few examples of a hobby, and the Gateway Game to accompany it:

HOBBY ————————GATEWAY GAME

Music ————————- Rock Band, Guitar Hero I/II/III
Social Club/Alt World Chars—- World of Warcraft, Everquest, Xbox Live games, Rock Band, Mario Party
Dancing———————— Dance Dance Revolution, Hannah Montana
Reading:Fic Chars & Puzzles– Room 261, Phoenix Wright, Portal
Animals & Development——- Dolphinz, Nintendogs, Catz/Dogz/etz, Black & White, Aquarium, Viva Pinata
Light Exercise —————- Wii Sports, Dance Dance Revolution, Hannah Montana
Finding things—————– Dream Chronicles, The Scruffs

This is, by no means, a complete list. There are more hobbies than I could list off, and there are a ton of great gateway games. In addition, what is a great gateway game for one may not work for another. You need to talk about the games premise before introducing your target to it, see what they think.

Of course, in with this Hobby idea is the other alternative that is becoming more & more popular: Time Wasters. This has become popular with people that have 30 minutes while waiting at the DMV, 5 minutes while walking to the car, or 15 minutes to wind down before bed. These, of course, should be mobile, and can be quickly pulled up and turned off, but they are still considered a gateway game. Most DS games fit this bill, some better than others.  Shockwave.com also has some good games for this, and at $10/mo for unlimited access, actually worth it.

The third, and last step is to PLAY the game, both before you introduce someone to it, as well as with your intended target. Do not buy them a DS with Mario Party on it, and ask 3 days later “So, you ready to play Halo 3 with me yet?” Pick a game you think they would enjoy, and then try it out for a week. Does it look interesting? Are the controls difficult? Would your target enjoy some aspect of it? Would they absolutely abhor another aspect?

After finding and playing a game you think is good enough, play into it a few levels. find out if it is worth finishing, even if you don’t finish it yourself.

Now introduce it to your husband, mother, grandpa, or child. Play it on your account for a minute, showing them the controls, the object of the game, and one of the aspects you really find enjoyable. When they are intrigued, set them up with their own account that they can create from the beginning (be prepared to lose all your progress).

Now watch over their shoulder for a while to see if they need help. Dedicate at least their first attempt to watching them and guiding them through any obstacles that will make it too easy to say “nope, that’s it, gaming is for idiots.” Take turns, if you can.

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. New games are coming out, and gaming is becoming more and more an accepted patime. I never realized this so much as this new years, when at one point the Rock Band consisted of my Nana on bass, my dad on guitar, my religious aunt singing, and my 8 year old nephew on drums. We also had Guitar Hero in the next room.. and Dance Dance Revolution in the room beyond that. at 12:30, when we were all supposed to be going home, they were just getting out the Wii my nana had gotten for christmas to bowl a few rounds.

Computer Gaming isn’t just for males age 10 – 18 anymore. It’s for men, women, couples, children, parents, grandparents… for anyone that wants to be amused.

Of course, to become a gaming couple, there are a few more steps… but hey, that’s why we have this site!

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