“Get Your Significant Other into Gaming”

Note: This is a repost from another of
my blogs, which is sort of on hiatus and may undergo a design change
and relaunch shortly. I've decided to talk about video games on this
blog too, but that one is completely game focused.

Since this is now my main blog, I thought it would make sense to put it here as well.

January 1, 2007

I did a Google search for an unrelated issue I'm having with my browser, and came upon this article
from 2005. I'm sure someone, somewhere, has already discussed it, but
it's new to me. I generally don't go to Microsoft.com for gaming
articles, so I had to stumble upon it.

The article is written in
a gender neutral voice, but it seems that this is merely for
politically correct purposes, as the suggestions and style seem to
indicate that this is geared toward men looking to get their non-gamer
girlfriends or dates into games.

Part of the advice reads: "Do start slow.
Rather than opting for a date starring aliens or zombies, try picking a
title grounded in the real world." Most gamers are happy to show off
their games. They just jump right in and speak enthusiastically. If
it's a passion of ours, we're not necessarily going to tread slowly and
try not to startle our friends or romantic interests. We're going to
say, "Hey, I just got this great game, take a look!" and then proceed
to demonstrate. I'm not advocating intimidation, but you don't have to
treat your non gamer friends and lovers as if they're complete
neophytes that can't handle a little bit of imagination or something
not based in reality. That's like saying reading picture books full of
talking animals and trips to the moon to little children isn't a good
idea. It's all about the concepts and the presentation, not the
delivery method.

If I see something that looks fun to play, I'll
jump right in. Now, while I do enjoy casual games like one of the
titles Mr. Steinberg mentions, Bookworm, that doesn't mean that it's
exciting. Part of the reason why I've been gaming for so long is
because it remains fun and exciting. Now, not all games have to deliver
an intense adrenaline rush ( and plenty have, especially after a truly
arduous boss fight), but if you show me something that looks insanely
fun, I'll want to try it that much more.

Obviously, if we're
referring to a novice gamer, or someone who doesn't game at all, then
it's worth it to find out his or her tastes first. Does this person
enjoy sci-fi novels or movies? Then break out Halo. Is an adventurous
drama or mystery more his or her cup of tea? Then maybe go for
something like Broken Sword or Myst. Political intrigue? Try Beyond
Good & Evil. It's just too hard to try introducing someone to
gaming without looking into the person's interests at all. There are so
many good games within all genres that it's easy enough to recommend
something once you have a sense of what the person might enjoy more.

I've
touched upon the PC qualities of this article earlier, but this is
where it irked me a little. If it was written as another "introduce
your wife/girlfriend/sister/mom to gaming" piece, and it is, then
Microsoft should have just let it be. It's obviously written with that
point of view and directed at a male audience. Look at the advice and
game suggestions:

  • "Don't show frustration or gloat over victories.
    As with any activity, beginners may lack confidence. Take the time to
    help them learn how to play and offer positive feedback. It also
    wouldn't hurt if you let your loved one win once in a while. And for
    heaven's sake, be gentle: poking fun at gaming newcomers is a great way
    to turn them off the hobby permanently."

In other
words, treat her like an incapable child who needs to be duped lest it
hurt her poor, fragile juvenile ego. I attempted to cheat at board
games and ask my mother if she'd let me win when I was around two. She
told me no, and that I had to play fairly and honestly or we couldn't
play at all. It was an important lesson. I knew if I won, that I'd
actually won. That does a hell of a lot more for someone's confidence
than letting them win.

  • Do choose colorful, non-threatening activities. Lean toward the type of title that evokes fond memories of childhood.

Oh
look! More advice to treat this new [female] gamer like a child.
Colorful and non-threatening? Give me a break. And while you're at it,
a BFG and a chain gun.

The last section is almost equally air headed, especially the blurb about the Frag Dolls:

  • Lonely
    hearts should check out the Frag Dolls, an all-female team of
    professional gamers. Members Brookelyn, Eekers, Jinx, Katscratch,
    Rhoulette, Seppuku, and Valkyrie update their pages frequently and
    offer news on personal appearances. Meet up with one at a LAN party,
    and you just may find love.

So this guy is
encouraging other guys to read their site, their profiles, and hit on
the women there? As if the FragDolls don't get enough flak and
adulation from lonely gamer guys for being attractive women.

I'm
familiar with gaming press and blogs, and articles like this don't
surprise me at all. I'm also quite familiar with both gamers and
non-gamers, male and female. You don't have to baby new gamers, just
get them excited and curious to learn and enjoy themselves. Learn who
they are and what interests them. Treat them like intelligent, fun
loving people, and you'll both enjoy gaming a lot more.

Edit, October 2007: The article linked above is no longer accessible at the original location. It is available here.

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