About a week ago, I sat down with a non-gamer. A complete non-gamer. It was my attempt to get my friend into gaming, and I knew that first impressions matter – so I put a lot of thought into which game to play. It didn’t go so well, but I’m curious to find out what you would have chosen?
There’s a certain language that games speak that most of us have all become accustomed to. Specific games and franchises have it, as someone in the DmC Community Review pointed out. You know the button layout, the combat and combo system, and you know what to watch out for in terms of enemies. But gaming as a whole has this language as well, and it’s one that other people just don’t speak.
Some of this is very basic, like the blue key going in the blue door. These are things that we’d expect anyone who sees the full colour spectrum to be able to figure out without too much trouble. But some of it gets more complicated.
I remember the first time when I figured out, in a videogame, that the fire arrow was supposed to melt the ice doorway. Everyone knows fire is capable of melting ice, but I think the real epiphany comes when you figure out the game is capable of simulating that.
This language took a step forward when games moved into 3D, with exemplary pioneers like Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. Every time we move around statues onto switches, or turn mirrors to reflect light, we can thank those games. But as much as I love it, would I expose a newbie to Ocarina? Hmm.
Back to the subject of my real-world enthusiast friend, I thought that perhaps many people’s Game of the Year for 2012, Journey, might be a good option. Easy controls, very simple puzzles, and, for me, extremely intuitive. It wasn’t overly gory, it had a nice message, and it didn’t take too long to play.
If it were a game, I guess you could say I experienced a “hard fail”. What I thought were easy controls, she had a hard time with. What I thought were very simple puzzles, she took a while to figure out. Truth be told, I wasn’t the best spectator, and couldn’t help blurting one or two things out. In the end, she gave up after about 10 minutes.
I want to be good at introducing people to games. I’d love to be the type of person who can recommend the perfect game for someone. Even if they’re uninitiated. Maybe there was a better choice than Journey. Perhaps the easy, child-like fun of a Nintendo game? What do you think? What game would (or do) you choose when introducing people to gaming? Would it be different for a kid or adult?
Gaming Introduction photo from Shutterstock