The Best Games For Non-Gamers

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

If you know nothing about gaming, but you're curious, what should you play first? If you've played hours of Candy Crush and you're looking for something better, what's the next step? Here are some suggestions for the best "gateway games".

This is just a list of examples based on some games that my own non-gamer friends have enjoyed. Many games that made our "best games to play with a friend" list would also fit nicely here, but let us know what games you've found to be good for introducing people to video games!

Portal 2

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

Portal 2 is probably one of the funniest games I've ever played, but it isn't just a great example for this list because it's entertaining to listen to GLaDOS for a few hours. Despite using first-person controls, which can be intimidating to people who didn't grow up playing games, the puzzles in portal are just that: puzzles. For the most part, they don't require careful, twitchy execution. Once you've figured out what to do, it's just a matter of pointing your portal gun in the right direction. Every solved puzzle gives the player a great feeling of accomplishment as they figure out how to do something that moments ago seemed impossible.

The Walking Dead

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

The Walking Dead TV show is already so popular, if you're trying to convince someone to try out a video game, they probably already know the show. From there it's an easy pitch to point out that the game is basically an interactive version of the show. I love this game because it takes what's great about a show like TWD but adds so much weight to every twist, since you've been influencing the story all along. Like Portal 2, the game is mostly about decision making, not execution (except for when you execute people, so maybe not a great starting point for the squeamish).

Katamari Damacy

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

If you didn't grow up playing games, controlling a character in 3D space can be very frustrating. You end up constantly bumping into things. Luckily, the goal in Katamari Damacy is to bump into things, so it's a great way to get used to controlling a character without giving up and throwing the controller through the TV. Also, it's a strange and adorable game that's just a lot of fun to look at.


The Best Games For Non-Gamers

If you're interested in video games but you're really opposed to all the violence and competitiveness that many of them revolve around, then Journey is a great bet. The same goes for if you can't see yourself spending 10 hours playing Portal 2. Instead of watching a movie, spend those two hours surfing through the desert and exploring the ruins of this beautiful world. Journey is great for non-gamers, but most people won't know about it unless they've got a gamer friend to show it to them.

Castle Crashers

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

You might know about it already, but in case you don't, Castle Crashers is a silly, fun arcade style beat-em-up for up to four players. While it isn't exactly a "party game", I've often ended up in a group having a great time playing this game with people who I didn't even know could operate an Xbox.

Robot Unicorn Attack

The Best Games For Non-Gamers

Sure, the gameplay isn't really anything special, but it also isn't difficult to understand or play. And there's just something special about the absurdly cheery song combined with the fact that your robot unicorn's decapitated head lands on the screen when you crash. Even if you've played it before, go take a trip down memory lane, it's free!


The Best Games For Non-Gamers

What? It's Tetris. Even if you haven't played it, you know that everyone loves Tetris.

I know there are many more games that could be on this list, so leave your suggestions in the comments.


    Mario. Mario anything really. Most non-gamers know who he is and grasp the controls instantly. It’s easily the most approachable IP.

    The Lego Games. You like movies? Bam, that's your gateway into the video games. Easy drop-in drop out, no pressure in terms of difficulty, simple enough controls, plenty of humor that can be appreciated by both adults and kids.

    viva piñata's another 'go to' I pick when people are looking at getting into gaming. highly addictive, great design, intuitive, has a great learning curve and surprising depth in mechanics that perfectly introduces people to just how strategic a game can get

      Hahah my ex became an expert at this game. I tried to get her to play games with me and it didn't work so well (We did play some Secret of Monkey Island too which was cool), but she became obsessed with making the best garden in Viva Pinata and I was amazed at how complex the game actually was when you drilled into it.

        yeah! It's one of the few games (a list that includes Katamari and Trine) that my girlfriend will play with me

    If we are genuinely targetting bona fide non-gamers here, then I would NOT recommend any game that requires navigation in a 3D world.

    One of the biggest hurdles of trying to make games accessable is that non-gamers can not get a grasp of navigating around a 3D world. A lot of the time they zig-zag left and right as they try to walk around (they don't seem to understand the simple concept that pressing up makes you walk forward), they have issues aiming weapons, they get stuck on walls, they get lost and confused easily.

    You want to target non-gamers? Suggest 2D games, or at the very least games that have 2D world navigation even if the game renders everything in 3D.

    Last edited 06/03/14 10:27 am

      Agreed, I find it hard to believe that a complete non gamer could achieve much in Portal 2.

        My gf is/was a non gamer when we decided to try Portal 2 co-op. At the start she was exactly as described above, really struggling with the camera. By the end she was easily keeping up. It's all to do with the pacing, lack of punishment and nothing really threatening. It makes it a perfect training ground.

      But if you wanted to introduce someone to 3D worlds, may I suggest The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? It's a 3D world, but you can't jump - so no need to think in 3D space for the first hour of play. It's also got a very gentle learning curve at first. It's in 3rd person, so it's hard to get stuck on walls. And it's got a very clever camera to boot.

        They are even worse with third person games than they are with first person games I find. It's not so much the jumping they have issues with in a 3D world, it's the presence of that z-axis. For the most part, many people don't have issues playing on a 2D plane when they only need to worry about moving left or right, but once you add the 3rd dimension into the mix they get totally lost.

        And Ocarina's camera certainly isn't perfect for a non can be finnicky at times but there are constant occasions when the camera angle changes, or zooms out, or does something else that would totally throw a non-gamer off.

      For someone who hasn't experienced it before, it is far from being a simple concept that requires breaking down movements across two hands and hemispheres.

      How quickly we forget as avid gamers that we too had a period of adjustment with the same problem, as long or short as it may have been.
      (Flip your Y axis back and forth every ten minutes, we may get used to it quickly, but there is always that small window where your brain has trouble adjusting)

    From my experience:

    *a wild non-gamer has appeared*
    *os42 uses "Portal 2"*
    *it's not very effective...*

    The lesson learned? Don't try to get them navigating a 3D world with two joysticks until they know the controller layout. Stick to 2D games, as @whitepointer says. Preferably with a good D-Pad.

      It's probably a bit easier on PC. Just point the mouse where you want to look. It's an action they are used to. Still there is very much a bunch of gamer solutions to puzzles that I think non-gamers would struggle with

        Huh... Tbh I never even considered introducing a non-gamer to games via PC... maybe because of the current difficulty of sharing PC games. Nowadays, initial cost ends up about the same... That might actually work out better.

        But certainly, there are still a lot of tropes that gamers take as given, stuff like "if there are colours or patterns in an obvious order, they will be used again in that order elsewhere", or "this item doesn't have a generic name, it must have a specific use later on" that aren't immediately obvious to most non-gamers.

        Hell, I still wonder why the ancient nords of Skyrim put the combinations to their tombs on the walls right next to the locks, and why I'm apparently the first adventurer in millennia to notice this rather obvious oversight.

          Worse still that it took one guy hundreds of years to realise that the claw key has the door code on it. It is basically a credit card with the pin written on it.

          I mean come on, even the lock picking mechanics were more complex

    cost should have been a factor in this list as well. Journey and Katamari Damacy are playable games but wouldn't suggest its the "next step" for someone to go out and buy a console after enjoying candy crush. but i do think folks who have enjoyed a few mobile games could benefit from a curated list of easily accessible games to try out

    If they're a non-gamer, try playing some games in front of them first. My wife was interested in BioShock, but was a non-3D gamer, so she watched a few videos on YouTube and then decided to leap in.

    Something like the Stanley Parable would be interesting too. Only controls are mouse, WASD (which can be re-bound) and E for doing stuff.

    I highly recommend Rayman Origins/Legends for playing with a non-gamer! My gf was pretty good by the end.

    Ace Attorney and Professor Layton are great non-gamer games. I setup my gf with a DS emu on her android (Drastic) and she was hooked!

    I've heard from one of my mates that his mrs who doesn't play games, played the shit out of The Last of Us. So there's that, The Last of Us is in for another nomination. Mind you, the story alone transcends normal 'genre' tropes within the visual medium of video games.

    Fables should be in there along with The Walking Dead. I've had great success with non-gamers. Can't wait until I can afford episode two.
    This might seem a strange choice but I also recommend Guitar hero or Rock Band. It can be a little intimidating at first, but with a couple of drinks in people, it's a lot of fun when you have the whole kit going.

    30+ years of playing games and the ones that have engaged non-gamers in my travels are:
    Wii Sports (Bowling and Tennis especially), The guitar/singing games, Mario Kart and Golf, Street Fighter II, simple arcades like Galaga and Frogger. And when it came out, my step daughter (16) got hooked on L.A. Noire, helping me solve cases and then just played the whole thing herself.

    Mario. LittleBigPlannet. Any form of cute platformer really.

    Plants Vs Zombies or the Sims are always winners.

    Anything more 'hardcore' than that is basically wasted on non-gamers.

    Last edited 07/03/14 1:15 pm

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