A nonstop gun-fest might keep you interested for six hours, but in my experience, she may need more than that. The occasional break from the carnage to solve a problem doesn’t hurt anyone, and it gives her a chance to feel the sense of accomplishment I feel when I score three consecutive knife kills in CoD 4 multiplayer.
GAMES TO AVOID
Left 4 Dead – Left 4 Dead is amazing, but it’s about shooting zombies, and that’s pretty much it. It assumes a lot of knowledge about how to succeed in shooters, and caters especially to gamers who like playing online co-op. While the special lady in your life probably welcomes social gaming, she probably doesn’t want to play online with your friends, and definitely won’t like playing with random kids who ask her if she’s a girl every five seconds. Unless she has a bunch of friends to play online with, online coop probably won’t work. And if she does have a bunch of friends itching to play L4D with her, she’s probably already into games, so why are you reading this?
Ace Combat (series) – The Ace Combat series is great for those who like flying jets around and locking on to targets. Fires of Liberation is one of my favorite games at the moment, but she’s not interested. It’s too abstract - I’m shooting at little dots in the distance. There’s nothing to solve, no mystery or exploration. All I need is the roar of a jet and the satisfaction of seeing the word “DESTROYED” appear when my missiles hit their marks – she needs a little more thought in her games.
GAMES TO TRY
Portal – Not only is Portal one of the best games ever made, it’s also very accessible. It assumes some pre-existing knowledge about the mechanics of first-person shooters, but nothing that can’t be overcome within an hour or so. It plays with the player with unmatched cleverness, and every puzzle is satisfying to solve. As a plus, there’s no violence against anything human… just, human-ey robotics.
Half-Life 2 – Valve’s landmark series is a great introduction to gaming. The pace is fairly slow (compared to other shooters), and there’s a lot of gameplay variety. A few elements might become frustrating (the driving mechanics aren’t easy to master, and those damn Antlions are bitches), but you can always borrow the controller or mouse for a minute to help out.
Don’t assume that you won’t like a game until you try it. We give “casual games” a lot of crap, but ask any GR editor and they’ve probably played and enjoyed a PopCap game. Peggle is fun, it just is, and fun is what you’re looking to have. I said you could introduce your girlfriend to gaming without resorting to minigame collections, and you can. The Sims 2 is as complete a game as any other. Viva Piñata is far from hated in this office. Animal Crossing is entertaining (though be warned, you may be accused of pedophilia for playing it). My fiancée and I have spent hours playing Hexic HD together. Just because it’s colorful doesn’t mean it’s bad.
What’s the worst that could happen? She develops a Sims addiction, giving you an extra four hours of free time every night, which you use to nerd your way through whatever 40-hour RPG you feel like? Sounds decent enough.
Above: What? What? It’s fun, okay? EXTREME FEVER!