The Girlfriend Gamer- “Warm-up”

Every gamer knows that the true holy grail is finding a girlfriend as into gaming as you are, or at least accepting of the habit. This post is the first in a series of regular posts about my personal journey into girlfriend gaming territory, and the game choices and handy hints I can suggest for anyone who wants to follow suit.

The first important step on the trek is the testing of the waters – a recon mission, if you will, to test whether your gf is even mildly susceptible to the gaming bug. Do not try to move past this step until you are sure she can be bitten.

GAMES AND TIME SPENT TOGETHER

Video games, if nothing else, provide opportunity to spend time together and to achieve something as a couple. Explain this as the reasoning behind your desire to pin her to the sofa and you are likely to begin your quest with a high brownie point score.

Fortunately for me, I met my gf on Second Life, so I knew the interest was there, though not whether it could be nurtured. So, during her first visit to me, I pulled out my slightly dusty copy of Fallout 3 to show her how cool the world in it was, and the interesting opportunities. In the process, I found myself hooked back into the game and began playing anew, even creating a new character so that she could watch the story unfold from the beginning. Developing her interest might require you to play games that aren’t in your normal “go-to” selection, but it’s worth it when her hand strays towards the controller for the first time. I should note at this point that no two gamers are alike, so even your little fledgling companion will have their own perspective on what makes a fun game. Try a few games or even go to the rental store together to find one she can enjoy watching you play – which brings us to the second step.

Find a game your gf is interested in watching you play.

Continuing with my personal tale: as our Fallout 3 gameplay progressed, my lovely companion became my navigator. While I was running around the Capital Wasteland, she was on the wiki researching whatever area I had wandered into, or telling me what loot was in the building I’d just entered. Through this she began to participate and feel a sense of ownership with the game we were playing together. She got to enjoy the story and reap the rewards, and was hooked enough not to be put off by the idea of pointing a gun in the right direction. Let her try that too early and she is liable to blow the ends off her own feet and refuse to make your dinner for a week.

Get her involved in the game.

The important thing about this process is that it must always equate to time spent together. Don’t block her out while you’re playing, ask what she thinks of the game, let her help you make choices and involve her in the process of playing even if she never touches the controller. It is also generally a bad idea to shoot fluffy bunnies or innocent villagers before she’s caught on to how funny it is. Playing games together is another thing that can bring couples together, just the same as going out to the movies or dinner. And the upside is that it’s a win-win scenario for you, because not only are you able to spend time with your gf ,you also get to play games.

Don’t overplay the game or use it to replace other date options.

Once your gf is comfortable and has become an able navigator, she’s likely to be looking at the controller and wondering if she should have a go herself. Plenty of games let you play splitscreen or coop, so the next step is to choose one you’ll both enjoy. One of your primary considerations is not to choose a game so insanely difficult that it’s unplayable to someone new to gaming. Again, you’d be risking no dinner for a week. Keep in mind her preferences as you point out titles and bear in mind her likely strengths and weaknesses. Find one you can play together, either cooperative or just paced in such a way as to allow ready communication between you. For example, Fable 2’s coop feature is highly flawed and nearly unplayable, but with the use of a headset you can converse with your gf as she plays through her game while you do the same in yours, and occasionally pop in to take a look at what she’s up to. This applies mostly to couples who aren’t fortunate enough to live close to each other. For couples who do, or if she’s not ready to splurge on her own console yet, the idea is the same, it just works a bit differently. For instance, you can take turns playing, or choose a game that allows splitscreen.

Choose something you both can have fun with together.

Following these steps can help you on your way to getting your girlfriend into gaming, but as not every girl gamer, you’ll need to use your head. Presumably, it being the woman you love, you already know quite a bit about her tastes and interests, so you’re already a step ahead of the gaming. In future Gilfriend Gamer posts I will feature the games that work when playing together, and how best to do so while she finds her gaming feet.

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