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Jun 21, 2006

How To Get Your Girl Into Gaming

Advice from Mrs. Shipwreck, a gamer wife

Most girls who grew up with My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, and Barbie have a very limited gaming past. I started gaming on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I don’t remember why my sister and I were so enthralled with getting a NES, but we knew everyone else wanted one, so we thought we should have one too. We played Super Mario Brothers. We played Super Mario Brothers 2. We played Super Mario Brothers 3. We played Mario Is Missing, which was boring…very boring. It wasn’t until we bought the Zelda guide that we realized where we could find the red lantern and then Zelda became fun too, which brings me to my first point.

Tip #1: Limit the frustration! Games are not fun if we can’t control them. Nor are they fun if we get stuck in the same place and keep dying. If your chosen female gaming partner isn’t really into gaming to begin with, she’s definitely not going to be dedicated enough to die repeatedly without making progress. This illustrates the reason why I never play games that involve flying airplanes. If you hand a woman a controller early in her gaming career, don’t expect her to master the whole “up is down” and “down is up” thing. Gaming should be fun, so explain the controls/rules/concept prior to hitting “Start” or she’ll be dead before she even knew what hit her. If she’s playing a single-player game that seems to be getting frustrating, buy the guide (or visit GameFAQs). It’ll save you BOTH a lot of frustration.

Tip #2: Try games that might seem more “girly” in nature, but don’t assume that’s all we will like. Sure, I love the cuteness of Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, and Super Princess Peach, but I also enjoy the headshots of Goldeneye, GRAW, and Metal Gear Solid. I have even outlived my husband on occasion. While I may not be the most accurate shot, I can still have fun poppin’ caps.

Tip #3: The couple that plays together, stays together. To have a shot at getting your girl into gaming, she has to somewhat like you. If she likes you, she probably likes spending time with you. Find games you can play together in cooperative mode. A few good choices are Baldur’s Gate, Champions of Norath, Kameo, X-Men Legends, and Lego Star Wars. The bonus with these games is that you can select characters that are designed to each of your strengths. I am not an accurate marksman, so I tend to gravitate to the wizard/sorceress/mage type characters. I can still kill just as many enemies as Mr. Shipwreck and I tend to die less than if I were an elf-ish character. Help your woman choose the character that is best for her.

With some one-player games, you can have fun taking turns by passing the controller back and forth. This worked well with Paper Mario, Kingdom Hearts, Sphinx (a very underrated game), Futurama, and Psychonauts (why did no one buy this game?). The Mario Party games are fun, but a warning… you must be very comfortable in your new relationship as co-gamers before playing against each other. Many a Mario Party has ended with me being relatively angry with Mr. Shipwreck. Users beware.

Tip #4: Find a genre she likes and stick with it. Some games are appealing because they are nostalgic (Mario, Zelda, Tetris, PaperBoy). There are a million different puzzle games that we’ve played (Devil Dice, Bust-A-Move, Pokemon Puzzle Challenge). I play Zoo Tycoon and Harvest Moon because I like creating my own gameplay elements. If you get confident enough, bring your significant other to a video game store and figure out what interests her. If the game turns out to be crap (as so many of them do), don’t be afraid to turn it off before frustration ensues (see Tip #1).

The most important thing to remember to be successful at getting your girl into gaming is that it’s your job to make gaming fun for her. Girl gamers are increasingly common and while we don’t have games that directly appeal to our gender like Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball (with new multi-breast physics), we still have our niche in the market. Mr. Shipwreck bought me a teal DS because it matched my Kate Spade handbag.

Of course not all women are the same, so don’t assume that we’ll all like the same games. However, here are my top choices for games to get you started:

Games I Enjoyed Playing Alone:

Animal Crossing
Harvest Moon (coincidently, some of the games in this series I hated, others I loved: Musical Melodies, Back to Nature = good, A Wonderful Life = bad)
Kaya: The Dark Lineage
New Super Mario Brothers
Any non 3-D Zelda game
Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars & Smoking Mirror
Adventures of Lolo
Legend of Mana (this game would have gone over better if I had the guide – buy the guides!)
Zoo Tycoon – the PC Version
The Nancy Drew Series – these would also fall under the category of “games I’m most likely not to admit playing”

Games I Enjoyed Playing with Mr. Shipwreck:

Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance 1&2
Champions of Norrath & Champions Return to Arms
Goldeneye & 007: Agent Under Fire
Lego Star Wars
Star Wars Battlefront 1&2
Halo 2
Devil Dice
Mario Party (either I get mad because I lose or because I think he’s letting me win on purpose)

Single-Player Games We Took Turns Playing:

Metal Gear Solid
Jak and Daxter
Paper Mario & Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Kingdom Hearts
Katamari Damacy
Hot Shots Golf (Yes, it has multi-player, but we had more fun taking turns.)


Brinstar said...

Eugh... Having a picture of Jessica Chobot is not classy at all.

Faith said...

I just used the picture as a joke to show a women REALLY loving to play video games. I didn't even know who she was. I just found the picture using yahoo images.

No need to post that I'm not classy for posting a picture of her. :(

Brinstar said...

I didn't say that you weren't classy. I just thought that using Jessica Chobot's image undermined the whole message of your post. She's a woman gamer, yeah, but she only gained popularity because she licked a PSP. That's how she got a job at IGN. Not because she writes well.