How To Get Your Significant Other Into Gaming

You play games, but your significant other does not. It's a common scenario that can be a point of contention in an otherwise healthy relationship. To relax after work, you load up Overwatch on the living room Xbox. Your beau, on the other hand, wants to cook dinner with you. An hour watching you gun down virtual enemies is, to them, the definition of boring — even disrespectful of their time.

In my experience, gaming with your significant other can solidify romantic bonds. Dungeon-crawling, role-playing, solving puzzles and even competing at fighting games together are all ways to learn about loved ones and craft memories with them. While that may be clear to you, a lot of people have mental blocks when it comes to gaming. Sometimes, that's because they didn't grow up doing it. Other times, it's because they don't think they have the motor skills or the attention span. Mostly, though, people just don't know about all the amazingly engaging, low-barrier-to-entry games out there.

Here's a guide on how to introduce your significant other to the wide world of gaming. Remember — compromise is key. If your significant other takes the time to game with you, make sure you try out their favourite hobby with them, too.


How to approach the topic:

Pressuring your loved one into playing games is a surefire way for them to associate bad thoughts with gaming. If you make it about your convenience rather than their enjoyment, likely your significant other will continue looking down on your gaming habit. Instead, personalise the pitch. Tell them that their interest in fantasy novels might translate well to a story-heavy role-playing game like Pillars of Eternity or that their Sunday afternoon puzzle routine is a great hook into 3D puzzler The Witness.

Make it about their pleasure, not about yours.

A lot of time the response might be, "But I'm not good at games." The idea that years of training are the only entry point into a love of gaming is false. Some games are pretty frustrating to pick up without certain gaming proficiencies, but others, like point-and-click RPGs or games with excellent tutorials, are not. Make sure you emphasise that skill isn't a factor — you're in it to have fun together. And that all depends on what game you pitch.


Games to Play with Non-Gaming S.O.s:

A lot of meatspace hobbies have gaming analogues. A love of socialising can translate well to Tomodachi Life, and the same with cooking and Cooking Mama. In my experience, though, this kind of thinking is a trap — if someone isn't into gaming already, likely, they will ask, "Well, why don't I just do my hobby IRL?" Instead, think in terms of tastes or ways of thinking rather than hobbies. Does your boyfriend or girlfriend like riddles? Are they into exploring? Are they patient or competitive? Considering these broader personality traits will help you narrow down the best intro games.

The best sort of games to introduce your loved one into gaming are local co-ops or multiplayer games. That way, you both split responsibility for in-game tasks and can put your heads together to solve problems. Portal 2's co-op has a high success rate for keeping the attention of someone who doesn't play games. It increases in difficulty at a reasonable rate and feels extremely rewarding to beat. The only caveat here is that, while playing, shut up and let them figure things out on their own. If you're too demanding, your significant other might shut down.

Indie local co-op games are perfect for shorter gaming sessions with high enjoyment: Narwhal jousting game Starwhal, horror RPG Crawl or the hilarious Goat Simulator all have a sense of humour and easily-grasped mechanics. They don't take themselves too seriously, so it's easier for newbies to approach them with a more open mind. Also, those are all on Steam — you don't need a console to play them.

Too-cute platformer Yoshi's Woolly World has an excellent co-op that's totally intuitive for anyone who's played a similar Nintendo game.

Games with open worlds can also prove entrancing to gaming newcomers. Skyrim's gorgeous landscapes are immediately compelling, and, paired with its detailed character customisation (something I've seen appeal to non-gameplayers), it's a great place to start. If you're in a long-distance relationship, I highly recommend easy MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XIV, which is ripe for exploring has simple gameplay.

Finally, a single-player game that in my experience is instantly interesting to newbies is Inside. It's a side-scrolling horror game with few mechanics and a lot of fantastic puzzles. Inside is short and mysterious, hooking players until they figure out what the protagonist's backstory and goals are. Also, you can switch off the controller each time someone dies, which is a nice way to take a break and generate suspense and excitement for more gaming.


How to Act While Gaming with Your S.O.:

Don't be condescending. Don't backseat game. Don't laugh at them. Don't be overly complimentary. Be chill and quietly encouraging. The worst thing you can do is lord your gaming experience over them. Everybody was new to gaming once!

For co-op games, make sure to distribute responsibility equally. Let them take the lead sometimes and allow them to make discoveries and reap rewards for tasks well-done.

For single-player games, don't hover. Being watched is disconcerting and intimidating. Maybe, do chores or read while your SO is gaming. If you do stick around, don't take the controller from them without asking. Give little encouragements, like, "Wow, that was a cool trick," or "You picked that up fast!"


That's it! Personalise the pitch, select an appropriate game and be respectful. Hopefully, your significant other will be gaming with you in no time.


Comments

    I got my S.O. way back with Lego Star Wars (#1), nice casual co-op. Easy to pick up and play (or drop-out if a particular platforming challenge was too tricky) and practically no penalty for death.

    Ive carried that on with my daughters, but they've progressed to more advanced games like EDF4 and Warriors Orochi, where the wife did not.

      The Lego games are a great way to get non-gamers interested. Pick the one that's based on an IP they're interested (surely there will be at least one) and play through it together. You (being the more seasoned gamer) may have to slow down a wee bit, to allow your partner to build up confidence with the platforming.

      Lego Marvel Heroes was a great success for my partner, she loves switching to Hulk and smashing shit to hear the cascade of lego bricks falling everywhere.
      Lego Marvel Avengers was a bit more combat focused and wasn't as well received.

        We just finished Avengers, it was nice having the story and voices from the various movies, but after playing Marvel it felt like they re-used too many assets. The city was the same, even some of the DLC maps were the same. Avengers also felt a lot more like they didn't bother to test co-op play, often leaving the second person idle for 5 minutes at a time. Force Awakens has been so much better.

      The lego games are amazing for getting your SO into gaming. Lego Harry Potter... Thank-you!

    Statistically women play more games then men (there is relationship subtext if you read into it). While that stat covers all games from hardcore to puzzle games its more telling in the mobile game genres popularity amongst women... find out her favourite mobile games and find the mainstream PC or Console genre equivalents.

    Best piece of advice i can voice is don't move too fast. I usually spoil if for my wife when i run through levels too fast. Diablo 3 is awesome too. My wife is now picking her own move sets whereas before she would just pick whatever was new .

    Good article, but I have to disagree with your recommendation of Portal 2. It's great fun co-op, but getting used to first-person camera controls takes a bit of work at the best of times; to someone who doesn't have at least a bit of gaming experience, wrapping your head around the perspective and momentum shifts in Portal would be near-impossible.

    Gotta agree with @mushaconvoy's Lego recommendation, though. Perfect subject matter regardless of whether your SO likes Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP!, very easy controls to wrap your head around, simple but meaningful multiplayer.

    The Telltale games can be really good as well, especially the earlier ones that have fewer timed decisions so you can take a moment and decide together what to do.

    Last edited 07/10/16 2:45 pm

    How old is that stock image up top, with the wired controllers??

      The controllers are obviously on charge because of all the couples gaming they do.

    I force all of my suitors to play until they best me at SFV. A game at which I am a champion.

    Suffice to say, I'm still single.

      I'll play you. I was once asked by a government to play sfv to avert a nuclear disaster so I'd say I'm pretty good.

    Wait…. So you DON’T want them to make you dinner?

    I've been getting her into Rocket League as of recent.

    It's a great split screen game and you can be on the same team. It's hard to control from the get-go cause of the physics, and always point out when the opposing team misses the ball because the game isnt easy to get used to.

    Also creating her an account and letting her make her own car etc and win items she can keep is a win.

    I am looking for more coop games though, but split screen is hard to find these days.

    Have downloaded the Outlast 2 demo and plan to play it together to scare the **** out of her

    Last edited 07/10/16 4:42 pm

    I just won a very tense game of Rocket League. I told my wife and she smiled and said "well done"

    That's as good as it gets in this house.

    I got my gf into gaming because she was so sick of hearing about destiny, she told me to show her what the fuss was about, dropped her into patrol showed her the basics, then went and watched netflix, a few hours later she came and asked me to show her how to actually get into the game/missions/patrol etc and then she just kept playing, we then played theu borderlands togethor and have been gaming togethor ever since

    I sympathise with those of you without gaming partners - I imagine it would be very hard. My husband and I seldom play co-op these days, but almost every evening we're side by side at our computers, immersed in our own games and interrupting each other every few minutes going Look at this! I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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