Games are almost always going to be a bit frustrating in parts. In general, this occurs because the developer failed to make what the hell you’re supposed to be doing apparent, or insisted on including a poorly designed mechanic that is integral to progression (not every shooter needs a driving level, damn it). Some games, of course, are just hard.
When you get frustrated, you probably show it. I’m not really angry when I can’t figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do to make a boss battle progress (screw you, Wesker), but that’s not what she sees. All she perceives is a string of profanities, a throw of the controller and a trip outside to pout and have a smoke.
“No, I AM having fun, dear, I don’t want to stop, I just want to beat this ******* boss.”
Yeah, that didn’t come out right. She’s not going to take much of that, no matter how much you tell her that you’re just getting worked up because you like the game. If you can’t control your gamer rage, you might turn her off of gaming for good.
Me: WHAT?! I MISSED AGAIN? WTF? WTF?! MIRROR’S EDGE SUCKS! I HATE THIS GAME!
Her: So why are you playing it?
Me: What? Because it’s fun.
Frustrating games will probably irritate her even more than they do you. If you’ve been playing games for years, you know that there’s some stupid-ass solution to every seemingly impassable barrier. You know how game mechanics work, and that there’s just a “right way” to play. You know to start jumping on/destroying crates until the solution becomes apparent. She may not, and instead of getting pissed off until she figures it out, she might just turn it off. You don’t want that.
GAMES TO AVOID
Capcom makes brilliant games; they also make games that frustrate the hell out of us, which may be part of the reason we love them. Nevertheless, if you’re introducing someone to gaming, you might want to avoid starting them off with Capcom’s hatred of save points, no matter how much you love the games.
Dead Rising – Not only is Dead Rising hard, it’s confusing. There’s a lot going on, and until you accept that you can’t do it all in one play through and sing “la la la la” every time you get a call from that asshole Otis, it will be immensely frustrating.
Mega Man 9 – I’m not saying the lady won’t like classic games. In fact, chances are she remembers liking the classics lot (everyone remembers Mario, right?). Nevertheless, Mega Man 9 is as great as it is irritatingly hard.
Street Fighter IV – Fighting games are going to be a hard sell. Not only are they violent for the sake of violence, they’re all about timing, and that can get frustrating quickly. Again, great game, but might not be the best way to introduce your girlfriend to gaming’s splendors.
GAMES TO TRY
Prey – Prey is a great game, and a bit overlooked. It’s got aliens to shoot, puzzles to solve, and as in Prince of Persia, there’s no real dying. You cross to the “other side,” shoot some spirits with your glowing bow, and fall right back to the place you were standing when your life bar hit empty – no frustration!
Prince of Persia (next-gen) – Some of the climbing sequences and boss battles can be frustrating, but since there’s no real death, it balances out.
F.E.A.R/F.E.A.R 2 – These might seem like odd choices, but the horror aspect is pretty compelling, the dudes you’re killing are faceless and zombie-like, and the easy mode is actually fair to less experienced gamers. There’s plenty of health, and you aren’t set back too far when you die.