Gateway games - How to get your loved one into gaming

Show them the light

Begin the transformation

Every gamer knows one of them--those people that spend their time doing productive things like working out, eating right, and experiencing the outside world. It's time for this nonsense to stop. It's time to bring these misled souls into the glorious world of gaming. But how do you get an uninterested mother, father, sibling, significant other, or friend into video games?

It won't be easy, but we've devised a surefire method for turning your non-believer associate into a full-blown addict. We've broken down the process for easy digestion. Not every suggestion will work for every subject in question, so it's up to you to pick and choose the best way to proceed based on your target's personality. Without further ado, let's convert some non-gamers.

Know their interests and determine how to exploit them

You need to do some recon. Look at your non-gamer's life. See what they like to do for fun. What television shows do they like to watch? How about movies? What are their hobbies? You need to find out. Follow their daily routine, check their Internet history (proceed with caution), do whatever it takes. These are all things you can use to gauge their interest and determine which potential gaming genres they might most enjoy.

Keep in mind, it may take a lot more effort to keep them hooked. The most important thing to do at this point is find a game that the person could relate to and guide them to that end. Is the person a fitness nut? Starting them off on Kinect with Zumba Fitness might be the way to go. Are they lovers of dramatic movies, cop shows, or history buffs? There are games that can relate. Keep that endgame in mind and build up to it. But in order for them to enjoy the more complicated control schemes of more hardcore games they'll have to get some game hours under their belt without giving up from failure and frustration--which brings us to our next step.

Expose them to the casual space

Once you have figured out which genres your non-gamer might be interested in, it's time to introduce them to a few games. If you want to get a complete noob into gaming, you're going to have to start them off on a few "baby games." These are the Angry Birds, the FarmVilles, and the Wii Sports games you typically find on easy-to-access, low-commitment mobile phones, Facebook, or your wand-waving Wii.

Start with simple games with simple controls. Everyone has a mobile phone with games that generally have the simplest gameplay concepts and control schemes. These are your non-gamer's training wheels. Here they'll get familiar with basic game interfaces. If you get them to plow through some racing titles, or solve a few puzzle games like Cut the Rope, they'll be taking their first steps into a larger world.

Appeal to their health and fitness

This works wonders with the wannabe fitness enthusiasts out there. Why do you think all those infomercials still flood the television airwaves? Because middle-aged folk are all trying to find that easy solution to melting away all of those bad decisions. Convincing them to lose pounds through dance games like Dance Central can be excellent entry points to the rhythm game genre and can lead to more hardcore endeavors like Elite Beat Agents, Dance Dance Revolution, and Beat Mania.

General fitness games can lead to your non-gamer expanding into anything motion controlled. Start them off in Your Fitness then get them to dabble in Wii Sports and party games, then possibly on to bigger, adventure-based games like Fable: The Journey. Remember, these are baby steps.

Play some indies

Indies generally are simple to control, have just a few gameplay concepts you have to wrap your head around, and have subject matter that is all over the emotional spectrum--perfect for showing someone how cool games can be. Most (especially the simpler ones) don't have complicated inventories, button combinations, or convoluted stories, but there is plenty of charm. Don't be afraid to challenge your noob, especially when it comes to rewarding failure experiences like Super Meat Boy. Then there's games like Journey that can give them an outstanding and memorable gaming experience that will stick with them.

Make the push to the hardcore

This is the tough part. If you've managed to get your non-gamer to play some indie games, they will be more accepting of complicated control schemes of the mainstream games. If not, you're in for the long haul, and possibly a total and complete loss. The key here is to start with the simplest games and build from there. You'll need to choose wisely, but here are some tips...

Find games that are relatable to their favorite movies and TV shows

Check back at your non-gamer's interests. If they're the type that love to watch TV and movies, the Walking Dead is a game that plays itself, has a TV show by the same name, and it basically feels like a choose your own adventure television series. The same goes with a game like L.A. Noire. These titles will get them used to navigating 3D worlds without giving them too much stress or opportunities to fail, and the fascinating storylines are sure to keep them interested until the end.

Dip their toes into the real, hardcore AAA games

Once you get your other to play a few of the relatively simple, core games, it might be time to drop them into one of the heavy hitters in the industry. The story heavy, and easy-on-the-eyes games from the Uncharted, Grand Theft Auto, or hilarious Saints Row series will work well if you went the movies and TV route.

These games will step up their control skills, expose them to great video game storylines, and give them the opportunity to mess around in open worlds (in the case of GTA and Saints Row). Or if your person likes sports and competition, go the Madden route (or other sim sports title) and maybe toss a few good multiplayer shooters in there just to get their online, competitive blood flowing. Sometimes tossing them into the deep end of online multiplayer is the perfect method for a super competitive personality.

Introduce them to an RPG

For those who have been gearing their pupils toward the story-driven gaming route, this is your end game. True hardcore RPGs can be tough games to get into. They take a ton of dedication to complete, the combat systems are extremely intricate, and the start of the games are usually a slow burn. But once a person gets bit by the RPG bug, it's hard to stay away. You can't go wrong with starting with Mass Effect, Pokemon, or Mario and Luigi titles then moving on to a full turn based Final Fantasy.

Destroy their lives with an MMO

By now, you're non-gamer has seen the light! They have their favorite games, they're finding new adventures to experience, topping leaderboards, and starting to become a real jerk in online multiplayer gaming matches. Now it's time to decide whether you want to bring them past the point of no return.

The MMORPG. Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and World of Warcraft are all games that could pique your gamer's interest. If not, there's a massive library of free-to-play MMOs that range from the typical RPG style to first-person shooter inspired experiences. When a person enters the MMO space for the first time, the addictive nature of the games can turn your loved one into a gamer for life. Possibly even a one-game gamer for life. Beware of MMO exposure. We assume no responsibility should you decide to go down this path.

Hope they don't turn into an indie hipster

Remember those amazing indie games you started your now-full-blown gamer on at the beginning of their gaming journey? It's possible that they're now thinking those games are so much better than the mainstream "garbage" that comes out in annual increments or those cookie-cutter shooters or even unimaginative action games. Journey's experience brought forth emotions and feelings that no mass-market game could produce. Fez was a complex gameplay experience, that was actually challenging--not like the "pathetic frat-house stuff" the big publishers are selling at 60 bucks a pop. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend you abandon the cause and try again with another unwitting acquaintance.

Transformation complete

Now your naysayer is a cave-dwelling, video game addict with a penchant for online elitism and a taste for highly caffeinated energy drinks. Happy now? Do you have any secrets for introducing a loved one to the world of video games? Any funny stories on how you got your girlfriend/boyfriend/other addicted to Call of Duty? Let us know in the comments below.

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