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Five rules for introducing your girlfriend to gaming

I’m not a miserable sexist ass; I’m just a practical observer. One thing I’ve observed is that men and women are different (I figured that one out pretty early on). Since I’m a rational person, I’m aware that nothing is entirely one way or another. Even the divide between life and death is ambiguous (uh, zombies, amirite?). So, for the record, I don’t think this list applies to every woman ever, just like I don’t think that Ann Coulter is representative of anyone except the alien parasites living inside her.

Now that the fine print is out of the way, here’s how it is. Many of the games you like are probably targeted to men. This doesn’t mean women can’t enjoy them, it just means that the female perspective was probably not given much consideration. When the growing female demographic is targeted things get even worse. Instead of finding the center of the female/male gender stereotyping machine, they crank the lever all the way to housework and puppies. It’s as if publishers stopped reading about gender roles in the ‘70s.


Above: This is from a real book from the ‘70s 

Screw all that nonsense. My fiancée may not be as dedicated to the medium as I am (it’s sort of my job and stuff), but she can discern a quality game from a mopping minigame as well as anyone. She’s not going to like every game I like (as I said, games are often targeted to men, and I get a rush when dudes’ heads explode and shower the screen with brain debris - not her favorite thing), but she’s aware that you don’t have to be an introverted escapism junkie to think that Half-Life 2, Dead Space, Portal and BioShock are cool.


Above: I never thought my fiancée, a self-professed extrovert, would ever be more excited about a game than me. BioShock 2 has proven me wrong. REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE!

Gaming shouldn’t be perceived as a solitary activity - it’s usually more fun when shared with friends or your special someone. Don’t let her be corrupted by game marketing; don’t let her assume that she ought to be playing games about cooking. If she’s genuinely uninterested, then you better leave her be, but even a tinge of interest can develop into a hobby you can enjoy together. So why not try? If you’d like to introduce your significant other to gaming (or anyone else who’s a bit unsure), here are a few rules I’ve learned through experience.

Oh, if you are a girl, you already like games, and you’d like to call us hypocrites and complain that our content is overly male targeted, well, I’d just like to welcome you to the internet. Keep fighting the good fight!


Call of Duty 4 doesn’t bother me emotionally - it’s easy for me to objectify death.  I know that what I’m seeing is a representation of reality, and that somewhere in the world real bullets and bombs are falling on real flesh, but I tucked that reality deep into the seedy back lot of my mind (where I keep all of that troublesome emotional stuff) a long time ago. The lady is less interested in ignoring the violent truth. A perfect headshot is an injection of adrenaline for me, but for her it’s the mutilation of human lives. Hey, we’re different, how about that?


Above: “KILL! KILL! KILL! Oh right, I mean, isn’t war terrible? ” 

This isn’t a difficult issue to overcome – all you have to do is look for games that are more removed from reality. There are lots of other things to kill besides dudes in camo. Aliens are a great option, because games rarely address the ethics of wiping out an entire alien species, and even if they do, their stories are generally too convoluted for it to matter.


Above: “We’re being invaded by giant bugs, should we see if they come in peace? Oh, yeah, you’re probably right… they’re giant bugs. Soooo… we should probably kill them all.”

Monsters are good too. They’re inhuman abominations, and they generally don’t feel much in the way of pain or suffering (and if they do, you’re there to end their misery, right?). If you absolutely must kill dudes, it helps if the absurdity is turned up to eleven. It’s not such a big deal if the situation is so ridiculous that it can’t be taken seriously, which is also why the lady will see Quentin Tarantino movies with me, but is less interested in brutally realistic war movies. Tarantino’s films are violent, but they’re also completely nuts.

GAMES TO AVOID

Grand Theft Auto IV – While she might accept it as a critique on America and purely a work of fiction, don’t expect gang violence to be her first choice.
Call of Duty 4/Call of Duty: World at War – Blowing up dudes in the Middle East or Pacific islands is less likely to be her idea of a good time.

GAMES TO TRY

BioShock – It’s moody, with stunning art direction to keep the senses entertained, and you’re killing strange, possessed, unreal people in a dream-like environment.
Silent Hill (series) – Horror games are surprisingly accessible. The gore might turn off the squeamish, but if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll find that undead nurses don’t pack the same emotional charge that soldiers’ heads do.
Earth Defense Force 2017 – EDF 2017 is simple and fun, and alien bug things have a hard time tugging on anyone’s heart strings, except in the literal sense.

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80 comments

  • Xtapolapopotamus - April 15, 2009 7:28 p.m.

    I glanced over this article. Tyler, you are a sexist pig. All kidding aside, good article. Should help lots of people get their girlfriends to at least take a look at gaming.
  • fattestninjaever - April 15, 2009 7:35 p.m.

    Nice. My love interest is into Nazi Zombies, I'm glad I know where to go after that.
  • Lavos - April 15, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    EXTREEEEEEEEM FEVER!!!!!
  • theeambassador - April 15, 2009 8:48 p.m.

    after you beat resi 5 and get infinite ammo, turn the lights out, and let her go thru with you again in split screen co-op and just protect her or nudge her in the right direction(if she asks)when she gets stuck,she actually got a rush from blowing shit up in the car chase and after we beat the giant majini together she raped me
  • BodyDamage - April 15, 2009 8:53 p.m.

    great article.
  • zanthox - April 15, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    Well, I just got my girlfriend to try out Peggle and within a matter of days she beat all the challenges... Guess it is time to step up a level or two...
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - April 15, 2009 9:27 p.m.

    I've had the "conversation" in Rule 2 more often than I care to admit.
  • WonsAuto - April 15, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    I love Peggle.
  • RebornKusabi - April 15, 2009 9:52 p.m.

    I might absolutely fail when it comes to even getting a female's attention for more then 5 seconds however I do have a very good friend who has a girlfriend and while she hates playing video games, she loves watching him play them. They have figured out a common love for Survival Horror games so he has been playing alot of Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, and older Resident Evil (Him and her both strongly dislike the last two games). So no, Tyler is not wrong in his assumption (Though I would call it fact as my sister also loves the Silent Hill and the older Resident Evil games as well) that women love a good Survival Horror game. Anyways, great article man!
  • TrevorISme - April 15, 2009 10:53 p.m.

    Some of this is so true! like I was sitting around with my girl friend and my friend and his lady, and we were getting bored, so my friend turns on my xbox, puts on Peggle and we all have a blast taking turns between levels or when we lose its fun fun fun for everyone
  • PCG_Evan - April 15, 2009 11:32 p.m.

    My girlfriend hadn't played a PC shooter in her life, and when I showed her L4D, she burned through all four campaigns on normal difficulty, and later came back to play on advanced--successfully. As much as there are some unique mechanics tied to the co-op and special infected, she had more fun with it than Portal, for whatever reason.
  • TrIp13G - April 15, 2009 11:40 p.m.

    I am definitely bearing these tips in mind. I've got a woman I'd like to get into gaming proper, and this article definitely pointed me in the right direction. Thank you, Tyler.
  • Hobojedi - April 15, 2009 11:53 p.m.

    The last page is so true and right.
  • MildlyAmused - April 16, 2009 12:03 a.m.

    For non-indoctrinated females, this article is a great idea. Come on guys, use this gold mine. I'm tired of being mistaken for a 12-year old boy on L4D. More girls = more fun. ^_^
  • Romination - April 16, 2009 12:28 a.m.

    this is a good article. I think that the headline is a bit misleading...it's more of 'how to get a nongamer interesting in gaming into gaming more', but with anecdotes about your fiance (ooh la la) weaved in. and it seems it would totally work in that regard.
  • BanHer - April 16, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    As a girl gamer, I can honestly tell you that this is the most accurate article I've ever read that's about girls in general. You honestly nailed it.
  • bjt2012 - April 16, 2009 4:23 a.m.

    Burnout Paradise = girlfriend gold Fast cars crashing in an open world environment really got my girlfriend to play
  • phoenix_wings - April 16, 2009 4:40 a.m.

    Hmm...The only thing that I can relate to this is article is that my friends (who have consoles somehow) who aren't that into gaming. They play the more casual games, like...ehh, trivia games on their consoles. They're fun, but not something that I would typically enjoy for long periods. See, that's something that i would personally start with if I had to introduce someone into gaming. Very casually, get them on the Wii bandwagon, and then gauge their reactions. If they get bored with the kiddie games, move them up to other ones that are easier, but a little more advanced. That would be suitable for me--having a relationship with someone that understands that games can be fun, and understands my passion. And enjoys it too--maybe not to the extent that I do, but close.
  • Accidental - April 16, 2009 9:08 a.m.

    I hope that I will not have to introduce gaming to my future boyfriend. Its rather an important part in the criteria for my next partner. CoD4 junky looking for love!
  • JCBlueNose - April 16, 2009 10:14 a.m.

    Why would you not want to introduce gaming to your new boyfriend that way you can show off your skills on games

Showing 1-20 of 80 comments

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