A Guy Tried To Get His Girlfriend To Play A Video Game. Here’s Why It Didn’t Work.

So you're lucky. Your significant other wants to sit down and play a game. And not just any game, either. The title that's piqued interest is Just Cause 2, Avalanche Studio's stunt-tastic open-world shooter. But Reddit user rfry11 found his lady love stymied by what he says are poor design choices and bad tutorials that befuddle new players.

So, for the edification of all, he created a handy series of annotated screens that show where the information flow breaks down. While this is just the experience of one couple, it does highlight how the conventions of AAA games that many gamers take for granted can be really confusing.

Why My Girlfriend Can't Play Just Cause 2 - A HCI User Study [Reddit]


    I tried to show a female friend SWOTOR last week and I can understand . Conventions and a virtually hidden tutorial conspired against her. What does a yellow icon above a head mean ? How do you tell hostiles from friendlies? What's a cooldown ? All very real questions.

    I wouldn't throw any newbie into gaming this way. You have to go in stages. We started as kids with Mario, graduated through DKC to Zelda, and then to other platforms' AAA titles, once we knew the formula, the language, the cadence of video games.

    It's like learning to read by picking up Shakespeare instead of I Can Run (well, not really - this is an exaggeration of a particular grandiose nature)

      I don't really agree now, sure we learnt over time basic conventions and things like that, but practically every game now has an intro level that is designed to explain the controls and what everything on the HUD means.

      This is why instructional manuals are either barebones/digital versions or non existent, so there were plenty of us that used to read the manual on the way home from the shop, to get an idea of what we are doing.

      It's very easy to jump into gaming now, regardless if the game has a billion control options. If someone doesn't take the time to "read" the opening level and pay attention to everything on the screen, then I don't see them being so interested in the first place.

        When you compare how many different things you can do in Just Cause 2 - run, grapple, jump, parachute, shoot, switch weapons etc as well as controls that switch up like driving different vehicles and flying planes - to how many things you can do in Mario Brothers - run and jump - then you can see just how much games have evolved.

        This kinda means that since we've (or at least Me personally who started playing console games with the NES and Master System) been playing games we've been introduced to new developments in gaming, the games themselves and how we control them, as games have advanced. So I think that we've grown accustomed to the parameters of the language and interactive framework of games over time. Almost like a reeeeeeally long tutorial, introducing new features one game at a time. Sitting someone down in front of a game like Just Cause 2 is very different to sitting someone down in front of Mario Brothers without them having the hindsight of years of experience in gaming.

          Yeah - Just Cause is probably one of the more extreme ways of introducing someone to gaming... being able to fly, drive, shoot, swim, grapple and parachute around the island is control overload for a non-gamer. Had someone liken the process to learning to play the piano - start with simple tunes using 5 keys for a while before building up to concertos. For something like BF3 it's pretty literal - between comms, squad commands, kits & equipment you are using most of the PC keyboard. Add the competitive and unforgiving online play to the mix and you've got a recipe for n00b sauce.

          I would agree because they are 2 different types of games, but for me that comes back to the learning curve. The learning curve of Just Cause will always be longer than SMB, even for a gamer with years of experience.

          New gamers will struggle with SMB just as much until they get used to the controls, the same will happen with JC, but my point is that all new games these days have tutorial levels that have so much hand holding that non gamers should be able to slide right into once they get used to them. Look at COD, from the very beginning (if I remember right) the intro mission is the same thing over and over, learning how to fire a gun and running a target course that uses all the controls at your disposal. The older 8/16-bit gen games really didn't have this, they dumped you into the first level and you simply had to work everything out for yourself.

            I think the point I was trying to make was that modern games almost alway assume some form of prior knowledge of the conventions of modern video games, some more or less than others. Tutorials have become almost standard with some utterly ridiculous in their simplicity.

            I person who plays games a lot will have experience in the way games operate, no matter what genre, as they've had practice in the conventions of 'gaming' and it's all pretty similar (except for when the Wii came along but lets not go into that). Therefore when talking about a learning curve a person who plays games a lot will become familiar with any particular game much quicker than a non game player because of the prior experience they've had, they know the basic conventions, what to look for (red barrels), and would be quicker at adjusting to new features (like grappling etc). Whereas a non game player would have a very difficult time adjusting to a totally alien experience, it's nothing like watching a movie and running around in the real world, so the learning curve would be hard from the start, not to mention the possibility of rage quitting over frustration.

            If modern games really do want to appeal to the absolute lowest common denominator (in this case someone who has never played video games before) they will really have to make an entry level tutorial (much like COD) and not assume any prior knowledge of experience in gaming.

    I couldn't even get my wife to stay in the room when I played Just Cause 2. She's Malaysian. The terrible, terrible dialogue and south-east Asian accents frustrated her immensely.

    Kind of like me watching the "Love Gods" episode of Sliders (if you want to hear some of the worst Australian accents ever committed to film you should check it out).

    I am happy to get my wife to play a few rounds of "draw something" or a couple of songs on rock band. Although i do think If i got arcade sticks and Tekken i might have more luck. Button mashing is definitely a skill she has mastered....to the point of beating me even when i know the moves.

      My wife is the same, she'll play smurf village and draw something by herself. And will play guitar hero and street fighter with me (just loves mashing buttons on that one). And she even wanted a go at Trials Evolution, which was pretty simple to get into with so few controls required.
      Anything more complex than those and she will not be interested, maybe if it was all explained better during the start of the game there would be some chance.

    I never realised an aspect of games that seems so simple to regular gamers is actually quite a trial to overcome - the camera. My gf plays Mario and Mario Kart all the time, second she tried something with a camera (fps or rpg), she really struggled. She's slowly getting there but it completely befuddled me that this was a difficult aspect for non-gamers. Nintendos approach to gaming all of a sudden made huge sense to me.

      My friends and relatives who rarely play games also struggle with the camera. They can use the left analog stick fine, but keeping the camera centered with the right stick always seems to be an issue.

    Can't say I'm pro more handholding, or at least in the way this suggests, insert my typical GO WATCH EGORAPTOR'S SEQUELITIS here, on the right way to teach people how to play your games. I suppose I wouldn't mind either way if there's a way to hide all the excessive stuff.

    In relation to the guy talking about the yellow exclamation marks, that's exactly the point of them, a lot of newer games clutter to much and lessen the effect but initially (Warcraft III) it was a great way of getting players to learn by doing, you were supposed to think to yourself "Ooooo shiny non-contextual icon let's investigate that, oh look when I click on him he gives me a secondary objective, that's cool, now I know, and even if I don't the next time I see one I'll have the same reaction to investigate.

    I know I should know better, but as I read his recommendations I kept wondering if he was telling us that the game should stop being a game and start being a single path.

    Also while it clearly fails in usability, these days there is a HUUUUUUGE gap in visual preference for modern design and user-centric design. eg. IOS icons and buttons are easy to use. IOS icons and buttons are also incredibly ugly.

      He is talking about for the first level which is meant to teach you. All these ideas would have been great for the first level to teach noobs how to play. once they get the idea you dont need them.

    Perhaps there needs to be a better option than "Display tips on/off" - maybe a tiered tutorial system to go with similarly variable difficulty systems:
    none: already knows how to play this game
    advanced: non-invasive popup reminders/tips for special abilities
    basic/gamer: non-invasive popup prompts as normally in JC2 (ie. control refresher and the bits that are usually unique to this game)
    introductory/new gamer: instructional popups explaining crosshairs/icons/interface as well as basic concepts like "hold button to jump further", "camera movement" or "difference between story quests and optional missions" (especially since most manuals only offer basic identification of interface elements, if any)

    I forced my reluctant girlfriend to play Journey, she rage quit a few times, but it became the first game she had every played on a console, and she completed it. I thought that might be the end of it, that she would never listen to me when i told her she had to play a game again. but the next night she was logging back in and playing it from start to finish, then she found out how achievements worked and she spent a week trying to unlock every one of them... Like this article suggests, you should pick your starting point and try and match it to the person you're trying to introduce.

    I think it all boils down to what has been written about in this article:

    I find the current console game controls are abysmal and need to be simplified. That's all ^^

    This makes me wanna play Just Cause 2 now..

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