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 areal 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.