Don’t be condescending. Don’t backseat game. Don’t laugh at them.
September 17, 2019 6:35 AM   Subscribe

How To Get Your Significant Other Into Gaming [Kotaku] “You play games, but your significant other does not. It’s a common scenario that can be a point of contention in an otherwise healthy relationship. To relax after work, you load up Overwatch on the living room Xbox. Your beau, on the other hand, wants to cook dinner with you. An hour watching you gun down virtual enemies is, to them, the definition of boring—even disrespectful of their time. [...] Here’s a guide on how to introduce your significant other to the wide world of gaming. Remember—compromise is key. If your significant other takes the time to game with you, make sure you try out their favorite hobby with them, too.”

• How My Boyfriend Made Me Fall in Love With Gaming [The New York Times]
“My boyfriend’s gaming never actually put a strain on our relationship, but when I started playing with him, it went from being one of his boy hobbies I could never possibly understand to an experience we could share, something that highlighted why we worked so well together. Many couples discover how much they absolutely adore each other by going on hikes, doing pottery, making a meal or hitting up parties together — and my boyfriend and I certainly bonded and continue to bond over many things aside from gaming. But every time we boot up the PS4 we feel a little closer. Still, if you want to understand why gaming is less popular among women than among men, check out Grand Theft Auto: The female characters tend to be either prostitutes or nagging wives, slutty daughters or abusive mothers. Which is why I was so surprised when I fell head over heels in love with it.”
• Why I'm Learning To Deal With My Husband's Video Gaming [Bustle]
“I get it. It's just when the gaming goes on for hours and hours that I wonder if it isn’t my duty as a partner to point it out, the way he’ll point to a pile of my dirty clothes on the floor and say, “Remember the rule?” It’s when my hints or reminders or even desperate dances that involve jazz hands go unnoticed for hours that my annoyance starts to boil over. We’ve all seen that scenario in movies or TV shows where the girlfriend is yelling at the boyfriend about playing too many video games and being a lazy slob. (Notice that it’s always that typical hetero dynamic as well.) Then, before storming out of the house, she sets this ridiculous ultimatum for him, like, “If you ever play video games again, I’ll leave you and you’ll never hear from me!” These scenarios don’t help those us who live in the real world of maturity and equality and compromises.”
• Couples that play Mario Kart together stay together [CNET]
“CenturyLink surveyed over 1,000 people to see if PC and console gaming has had a positive or negative impact on their romantic relationships. "Romantic partners from the millennial generation grew up with video games as a large part of their lives," said James Gaskin, a game developer and professor of business at Brigham Young University. "Therefore, gaming is simply more natural and accepted. Whereas with older generations, a partner who played video games was perceived as juvenile and irresponsible." The game couples said most positively affected their relationships was Mario Kart. First-person shooter game Call of Duty and role-playing game Skyrim round out the top three for keeping the romance alive among players. Conversely, of the 1,000 respondents, only 42 said gaming led to a breakup.”
• Gamer Bros Have a 'Gamer Girlfriend' Problem [Vice Gaming]
“Playing together with a partner (or even friends and family), enables social gaming without feeling as if they have to open themselves up to online abuse. Playing with partners and friends can also enable women to play online if their partners and friends stood up for women when online gamers start to throw verbal abuse. It's about creating a more welcoming community for everyone. I think it was important that my research grew out of my own lived experience. Feminism for me [is] finding the language to explain things we've always known to be true. It's peeling back some of the layers to get clarity about why we're uncomfortable about something, and why it doesn't feel completely fair. I've played games for most of my life, but playing with my partner after high school nurtured it into a greater hobby. I'm now researching video games as an academic and hoping to build the community so that everyone feels welcome to enjoy the medium, without arbitrary rules around "what to play" and "how to play", enforced by gamer gatekeepers.”
posted by Fizz (93 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I accidentally got my girlfriend SO into gaming from not at all. I swear it was a complete accident, and actually extremely cute and funny what she flipped the switch.

We stopped at an arcade bar downtown and I know she was humoring me as I showed her old games I loved like burger time. Until we got to one called Crystal Castles. Something in her eyes changed as we played this weird caveman collecting dots on the ground and jumping over scary bushes and avoiding bees. She discovered a secret stage right away. For days, she kept mentioning Crystal Castles. So of course we went back. This game!

I showed her Cuphead for the awesome art style and Overcooked while housesitting since she was a chef and it was coop. Her eyes took on a further gleam. I think this is when her hands would involuntarily form into the shape of holding a controller from time to time.

I gave her a spare Xbox I had to replace her Roku and bought her Stardew Valley just to see if she liked it. Watching her focus evolve and always be like "I don't have TIME for anything ELSE in the game!" like "I don't have time except to farm! I don't have time except to mine! I don't have time except to give Linus food and be best friends!" has been one of the funniest and best gaming moments of my life because I know all the times I got this into a game.

Anyway, she's well aware of Gamergate and Incels (we both like to look into and talk about young white male radicalization and how to fix it) but I think I've shown her that gaming can be very fun and positive. Waiting on that Stardew multiplayer update for consoles now!

We do lots of fun, awesome stuff together but I know that an hour (ok or two sometimes) of Overcooked midweek is a fun relaxing activity. We always solemnly shake each others hands after a tough level and say "thank you, chef." before we start laughing. I love gaming, and I didn't expect or need her in any way to like it.. but it's really fun sharing a hobby of mine! Plus her farm is baller.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:49 AM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


I feel like so much of this can be broken down into the following:
1. Be patient and kind.
2. Consider your partner's taste/preference.
3. Be patient and kind.
4. Know that they might not like some games and/or just walk away from it all.
5. Be patient and kind.
6. Have fun.
posted by Fizz at 6:50 AM on September 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


I tried to introduce my SO to walking sims that I thought she'd really glom onto. What Remains of Edith Finch was going well until the scene where the teenaged girl gets murdered by her boyfriend at home and I realized the reasons some people avoid games can be deep and hard to bargain with.
posted by Evstar at 6:51 AM on September 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


Also, I managed to get my wife into Stardew Valley and talk about opening up the floodgates. :-) It's been fun watching my partner learn the ins and outs of a game and grow from casual interest into near-obsession. Anytime anyone else in my life expresses interest in that game, I send them to her, she is the authority on that game in our social circle. I love seeing how excited she is when she discovers something new. That is the best part about introducing someone else to a game, watching that excitement and joy in their eyes.
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Lego Harry Potter worked for us and we came from really different gaming backgrounds. My husband used to be at programmer on big console games and my only console games experience was playing GoldenEye on Nintendo 64 with an ex who was extremely good at it and would destroy me. Now I play more games than my husband. Borderlands is also surprisingly fun as co-op even though it's very shooty because the game figures out how good the different players are and distributes the bad guys accordingly.

Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to checking it some of the indie co-op games from the first article.
posted by carolr at 7:04 AM on September 17, 2019


The only games I managed to get my SO into where the Broken Sword re-releases for the ipad. She absolutely loved them. Then she got past the goat on the first one without any problem. So we won't be trying that again.
posted by biffa at 7:07 AM on September 17, 2019


I'm a (not avid but casual now I suppose) gamer and one of the most annoying aspects of dating "gamer" men has been that for some reason they know I enjoy gaming but lump me into the "girlfriend that doesn't like games" box almost instantly which...is infuriating. So they never ask me to game with them or they become self conscious or guilty about gaming. Even a fellow I bonded with over games online and in arcades acted this way: The second we became a couple suddenly the "girlfriend hates games" stereotype switched on when really I would have loved so sit around with him co-oping on something. It still boggles my mind to this day.
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2019 [16 favorites]


Couples that play Mario Kart together stay together

QFT. Grumpybearbride purchased the SNES mini and a vintage GameCube, and we have MarioKarted together many, many times. She's better than I am. I, on the other hand, dominate at Monkey Target. Or I did, that is, until she mastered the no-boosters 500 point drop.

We also play Scrabble and Yahtzee, and cook together.

Together is the key word.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:22 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


My ex grew up playing video games when she was a kid, and so she still plays them as an adult. It's funny, because I played a lot of games as a kid/teen too, but she was the one in our relationship who played through Skyrim, Mass Effect, GTA V, Witcher 3, RDR2, and others. I'd mess around in Dark Souls every so often (still can't beat Quelaag), but she was the one who was really committed to finishing these things. She also likes the more introspective games like Edith Finch and Life is Strange, but I don't think it's down to any innate femininity, it's just that they're good games. I think the key thing for her was that she grew up in an environment that allowed and encouraged her to play games (it certainly helps that her parents bought her a SNES and later an N64).

Well, obviously we didn't stay together, but we did often watch each other playing. We generally only played single-player games (neither one of us wanted to touch the cesspit that is online gaming culture), so we couldn't really do multiplayer together, but it was still nice to hang out while one of us was playing something. I've experienced so many games just by watching as she beat them.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:26 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I live with someone just incredibly, like, wouldn't take a single swing at Wii Tennis when Wii Tennis was everywhere, uninterested in games, and it's fine. And then I occasionally remember she used to have a DS and play at least the Professor Layton games... but I'm not sure a hard campaign to find modern equivalents and drag her back in would be worth our combined time and effort. IDK.

We cook together.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:27 AM on September 17, 2019


I've been the girlfriend who wasn't into games. Given the joys of gamer culture these days, I don't want to get into games. It's just not safe for me. Also, I've seen enough of my exes being sucked into games and wasting their lives and doing nothing at all else but the game for hours and hours and hours that I'm not enticed to do the same myself. I get that gaming makes you feel like you're getting wins in life and that's great, but then there's the rest of reality.... sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 AM on September 17, 2019 [13 favorites]


I think online gaming/gamergate/toxic masculinity are the biggest turn-offs for people who are considering getting into gaming. The best way to get around this is to avoid it altogether, to pay couch-co-op, and to play game styles that suit the person you're trying to foster this interest in. And I've seen this work with many of my friends and family members.
posted by Fizz at 7:38 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


My SO cancelled dinner plans on Saturday because she had an online trivia event that she is highly ranked in.

I've been known to burn a whole Saturday playing No Man's Sky while enjoying some atomized herb.

Games are so pervasive that you probably don't need to get your SO into them. You just need to listen to what kind of games he/she/they like.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:39 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


Oh, we also play, like, a lot of board games and the like, which is fun, and social. So it's not really an issue? It'd be nice to just both flop on the sofa and play something truly mindless together sometimes, but there are far worse problems.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:46 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


It is also fine to each have different interests. My ex had a regular weekly D&D campaign he did, and he was reluctant to tell me about it at first because he thought I'd laugh at him or complain. But when he saw that my reaction was more "okay, cool, have a good time," he was thrilled.

We discussed that once - he was expecting that I'd either complain about it or want to tag along, and he wasn't sure I"d mix well with the other gamers so he was trying to figure out how to navigate that. "Well, I have that weekly knitting group, remember?" I said. "And that's something you're probably not going to join, right? And you don't have a problem with my doing that once a week, right? It's like that. We're two different people, and not everything we do is going to be something the other one is into. You're welcome to try, and if you think there's a thing I could try once, then cool. But otherwise, I have no complaints about the amount of time we do spend together, and there are plenty of other things we do together, so I'm good."

If either of us had been holing up for hours and hours on a daily basis and avoiding the other, that would have been different. But that wasn't the case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on September 17, 2019 [13 favorites]


I'm male, 48. My f wife is seven years older than me. She has zero interest in gaming, and I get more into it the older I get. I played Intellivision and Commodore 64 games as a kid, then played no games at all until a couple games on a laptop, then the Xbox 360. So When we got together, I hadn't played games in years, and I didn't re-start gaming until 7 or so years into our relationship.

I got her to play Peggle a few times about ten years ago, and she only did it because our niece and nephews were playing. There was a brief period of time when she tried Portal. But the twin thumbtacks frustrated her so much, and she felt sick from the 3D environments. She enjoyed watching me solve those puzzles in that game, though, and would sometimes backseat drive trying to help me figure them out.

Fast forward 8 or so years. She regards gaming as an almost alien activity. I tell her it's my hobby. I'm not into sports, or anything like that. I don't party with friends anymore. And other than 4-5 hours a week playing tabletop D&D with my brother and some friends, I do everything else with her. I think she resents my time gaming, and we've brought it up in couples counseling we've been doing. She doesn't have any hobbies, and I wish she had some. I need alone time, and gaming is perfect for me this way.

It's been a complicated, strained time in our lives. Gaming is a release and an escape for me. She throws herself into work, and nothing else. Not sure why I'm telling all this, except to say that gaming can indeed be an issue in relationships. And like everything else, it's complicated.
posted by SoberHighland at 7:55 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


From the Bustle article:

We’ve all seen that scenario in movies or TV shows where the girlfriend is yelling at the boyfriend about playing too many video games and being a lazy slob. (Notice that it’s always that typical hetero dynamic as well.) Then, before storming out of the house, she sets this ridiculous ultimatum for him, like, “If you ever play video games again, I’ll leave you and you’ll never hear from me!”

We've all seen that scenario?

I'd also like to add that this is a golden time of wonderful, single player games. And there's so many games today that explore and involve all kinds of ideas. It's not all competitive violence. GamerGate and shitty behavior from gamers is a real thing, a horrible thing, and I understand avoiding it—I avoid it. Playing single-player games involves none of that. I play very few multiplayer games, and I refuse to wear a headset or play anything that involves talking with other anonymous players. I don't want to go near that shitty, abusive world. It's easy to avoid GamerGate stuff when you play single player games. I hope people wary of the garbage side of gaming do try it out if they are interested.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:10 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


It is also fine to each have different interests.

Absolutely. This is where my partner and I are at. It's only been in the last few years that she even got interested in science fiction media (Firefly was her gateway show), because she really internalised the messages she got growing up that sci fi and games and whatnot weren't for her.

I think at one point I bought Telltale's Walking Dead (because she likes zombie stuff like TWD the TV series) and suggested a play-along thing where she could weigh in on what choices to make, but even there her interest was just lukewarm. And it's fine! She lays in bed and watches TV shows I'm not into while I sit at my computer playing games she's not into, and we're both happy with this arrangement. It's totally natural -- and I daresay it's even good -- for people in a relationship to have separate interests.

And it's funny that so many people mention cooking together, because we can't do that either. Our cooking styles are just way too different, so when we tried to cook together it was disastrous. I think we tried it maybe twice and then just gave up in favour of switching off instead.

Obviously, you need to have some interests in common to have a really fulfilling relationship, but you don't need to share all of your interests.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:12 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


That sounds very hard, SoberHighland. I hope you can work through it. Play in a relationship is not a luxury or indulgence, it is vital.

There are lots of great single player and female protagonist games these days which is really cool. I'm playing Control right now which is like SCP Foundation the game.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:13 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I play fucktons of video games, and while it's a good thing to learn about all the shitty behavior both in some online games and behind the scenes in game development, I wouldn't know about any of that just by playing the games.

Ain't nobody harassing me through Picross or Civilization or Battle Chef Brigade.
posted by asperity at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Anyway is this where I complain about there not being another Mario Kart Double Dash?
posted by asperity at 8:15 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


I found the text below pretty enlightening! (And yeah, Metafilter makes A LOT of gaming like boyman trolls will be beating down your door when you in no way have to ever interact with anyone. Even in multiplayer games, my friends and I have not had public voice chat on in … a decade? A decade.)

For many couples, play and fun is often the first thing to go in a relationship and the last thing to get done on the “to do” list. Long hours of work, family demands, and stress can suck the fun right out of a relationship. University of Denver psychology professor and codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies Howard Markman says, “The correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and significant. The more you invest in fun and friendship and being there for your partner, the happier the relationship will get over time.” Markman and his codirector, Scott Stanley, began a long-term study of over 300 Denver couples in 1996 using a questionnaire based on a “fun and friendship scale” the two developed. Although the study hasn’t yet been published, the findings are clear— couples who play, laugh, and make a “game” out of daily life are happier couples. Shared fun, shared activities, and shared laughter all contribute to a stronger, happier, and healthier relationship.

Psychologist Arthur Aron of the State University of New York at Stony Brook studied couples to see how participating in new activities would affect how each partner experienced the relationship. The more novel and arousing activities (not that kind of arousing), the happier the couples said they were with their relationship. The joy that people had having new experiences rubbed off on their feelings about their partner. If they were having fun with their partner, their partner must be fun. The bottom line is that play isn’t a luxury or an indulgence, but a necessity for a successful, happy relationship.

Play isn’t just about being with each other, it’s about connecting with each other. When we play together as couples, we’re developing our trust and intimacy. Just as play is how children learn to cooperate, play also creates cooperation in adult relationships. Whether you’re flying a kite, taking a hike, or playing a board game— when you play together you’re creating shared meaning and shared fun, and this in turn deepens the intimacy and connection you have with each other.


Gottman, John; Gottman, Julie Schwartz; Abrams, Doug; Abrams, Rachel Carlton. Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love (p. 158). Workman Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:18 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Control is indeed great! The enemies you "kill" aren't the main point. And they may or may not even be real. Your gun isn't even "real" in the normal sense. Great design, wild concepts and ideas. Female protagonist with interesting layers to her personality. Haven't finished it yet, but enjoying it more than I have other games in a few years.

They need to add an Easy Mode though, because the difficulty might turn some people off who might otherwise be big fans. If I had tried it back in my early days with the modern twin-stick controller I would have been too frustrated to get past the first boss. And that's a shame because the "combat" isn't even the main point of the game.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I got into gaming as an adult. I had played some as a kid, but never owned my own system - so apart from some kind of half-hearted attempts at PC games, I just never got into it.

My friends got me into gaming because ... they were nice? We were having fun? I mean, there's a huge learning curve. It takes a while to get used to the controllers and the logic of how games are designed, and if you're not having fun while you're learning you're likely to quit. Unfortunately, gaming brings out the know-it-all in a lot of people. There's the excitement of wanting to share everything you know about the game, which can be annoying but isn't necessarily toxic .... and then there's the way that a lot of nerd men derive a sense of importance or status in their nerd community from how much they know about a property. Combine that with the widespread condescension toward women who don't game and the fetishization of women who do game, and you've got a potentially toxic dynamic that can be frustrating to experience.

My friends just booted up something low stakes and we laughed for a while as I bumbled around, walking off of the map, failing to shoot anything, trying to remember what buttons did what ... and that experience was fun enough that I kept at it.

Now I'm not really good at games but I can figure out a new game on my own and usually complete it on normal or hard difficulty. (Sometimes I wish I hadn't discovered games though, because they are such a huge time suck.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:23 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


For maximum entertainment, re-read that opening paragraph, substituting heroin for video games.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Living in Salt Lake City, the only thing that’s been proselytized to me more than a certain locally dominant religion or MLM is geek/gamer culture. In my younger days I was often invited to friends’ houses to “hang out,” only to stare at the backs of their heads for two hours while they played video games and ignored me. Then I fell in love, and after a few years playing second fiddle to Final Fantasy Umpteen, I realized I didn’t have to do the Cool Girl thing and pretend to be fascinated with it anymore. I could go do stuff I actually found rewarding. It required giving up on the Acceptable Feminine Goal of doing all the work of the relationship, of demurely yielding to whatever boring-ass media he found more interesting than me.

He has since learned to diversify his interests. If I were single again tomorrow, though, “gamer” would be a dealbreaker.

So I admit I bristled a little bit at the headline. Yes, part of the problem is the condescension. Part of the condescension is assuming that people who aren’t into gaming just need to hear the Good News.
posted by armeowda at 8:33 AM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. When "to relax after work, you load up Overwatch on the living room Xbox. Your beau, on the other hand, wants to cook dinner with you", leads to problems, your problem isn't that your beau needs to learn to play video games. It's that both of you need to eat and you're expecting that SO to do all the cooking - or in the best case scenario, for no one to do cooking - while you sit and play games.

I know that's not the point the writer is trying to make, but playing games that suck up hours of time and then complaining that the other person- who may be running the house by default - just doesn't understand is a pretty terrible takeaway.

There are lots of ways to talk about the idea of introducing nongamers to gaming that don't need to pay lipservice to the trope that "want[ing] to cook dinner together" is just another hobby.

Sorry to be that person in the thread, but yikes.
posted by Mchelly at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2019 [32 favorites]


Obviously, you need to have some interests in common to have a really fulfilling relationship, but you don't need to share all of your interests.

I think the trouble sometimes with the "how to get my SO into games" people are kind of, games are their only interest.


Enid:
Yeah, yeah, just list your 5 main interests in order of importance.

Seymour:
I'm gonna have to put Hearthstone, Dark Souls, Monster Hunter at the top of the list.

Enid:
Right, so, let's just put videogames, that way we only use up one.
posted by RobotHero at 9:01 AM on September 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


I’m a fairly casual gamer, and prefer to watch people play than try to use the controllers myself (except driving games). I look forward to couch time with my boyfriend where he plays whatever Xbox game and I doodle in my sketchbook.

But whenever I’m browsing steam for my next collecting/crafting game, I keep an eye out for stuff that would be fun for us to play together. Last night before bed we collaborated on a few levels of a tower defense game (Dungeon Warfare, I think). It was just the right difficulty that we both had good ideas about how to solve the puzzles and explode all the raiders.
posted by itesser at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2019


The links weren't like this, but the reason I will never call myself a gamer, despite a lifetime of playing videogames, is because games that are more popular with women are treated as less than. I loved the light-heartedness and non-violence of the Wii. The platform was tremendously popular among women, particularly older women. And instead of embracing that demographic, Nintendo killed the platform in favor of the more male-friendly Switch. (By male-friendly, I mean that they were trying to get the male demographic back.) Violent and/or sexist video games aren't the be all and end all of games.
posted by Ruki at 9:26 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Grumpybearbride and I went through a Sims 4 phase where we started out innocently enough and then built a model of our house and then made Sims of our friends and suddenly we were watching them take a dump and now we don't play so much anymore.

Killer soundtrack, though!
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


At least the Switch is getting all the new otome games now that the Vita is probably finally really dead?

TBH, I find that the docked-or-portable option on the Switch is a really nice feature for people who live with other people who might like to use the TV for other things. I'm also a big fan of the lightweight pair of controllers for wrist-jankiness reasons, and think they're basically the best controllers ever made for my tiny hands.

But yeah I kinda want another sequel to Endless Ocean that's at least as good as those games were on Wii. (A game where you're basically just fishspotting and petting sharks is about as nonviolent as it gets.)
posted by asperity at 9:33 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


"I've been the girlfriend who wasn't into games. Given the joys of gamer culture these days, I don't want to get into games. It's just not safe for me. Also, I've seen enough of my exes being sucked into games and wasting their lives and doing nothing at all else but the game for hours and hours and hours that I'm not enticed to do the same myself. I get that gaming makes you feel like you're getting wins in life and that's great, but then there's the rest of reality.... sigh."

Can I ask what activities you deem to be superior ways to spend that time? Like, real activities, not nonsense like volunteering or charity or exercise. Life is here to be wasted, the only people not wasting their lives are people who are wasting their lives deluding themselves about how they aren't wasting what has no inherent value.

As for toxicity, that's something to navigate on an individual basis and overall isn't more or less toxic than literally every other activity human beings are remotely involved with and can discuss with other human beings. Humans are garbage molecules the universe can't wait to recycle into better forms of matter but at least there are single-player videogames where one needn't interact with another at all.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


real activities, not nonsense like volunteering or charity or exercise

Right, how useless it is to help other people or stay healthy! What an immensely problematic hot take.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:49 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


or in the best case scenario, for no one to do cooking - while you sit and play games

What's wrong with that? Take out and fast food exist as does snacking. Not every meal is banquet, not every step is a parade.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Right, how useless it is to help other people or stay healthy! What an immensely problematic hot take.

I think they mean that no one actually spends much time doing charity work nor exercising.

I find that the group who thinks it abhorrent to spend two hours playing a game typically sees nothing wrong with spending six hours glued to one social media platform or another.
posted by FakeFreyja at 10:01 AM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


So I admit I bristled a little bit at the headline. Yes, part of the problem is the condescension. Part of the condescension is assuming that people who aren’t into gaming just need to hear the Good News.

Reminds me of, say, Phish or Frank Zappa fans, whio tend not to believe that anyone possibly actually genuinely doesn't like their band - they just haven't heard the right stuff yet.
posted by thelonius at 10:01 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


TBH, I find that the docked-or-portable option on the Switch is a really nice feature for people who live with other people who might like to use the TV for other things.

Yup, 100% this. It allows for multiple screens and entertainment. My wife plays Stardew Valley on her iPad, I play Binding of Isaac on our Switch and we can have the news on or something streaming in the background. This really does make it seem like we're only in front of screens but we have dedicated chill out screen time and the portable nature of the Switch and mobile devices is super convenient.
posted by Fizz at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I’m the girlfriend/wife who isn’t into video games, and 100% of the reason is that I suck at video games, because I don’t already have experience. Specifically, I suck at — what was it called in this thread? — the twin-stick controller?

My friends are always like “Let’s play Mario Kart! That’ll be fun and easy!” The last time I gave it a sporting try, everyone else finished the course, and then had to awkwardly watch me suck at it and repeatedly crash off the course for like two more minutes before I finally managed to cross the finish line. Same with Super Smash Bros, another “fun and easy” group game. I get killed in the first five seconds and then just kinda awkwardly watch the rest of the match.

I know, git gud, but… why bother? It’s supposed to be fun, but it just feels like stressful work. It’s not going to be fun for my husband to spend hours watching me fail the first jump in the first level, and it’s not going to be fun for me either. Plus I worry that he’ll lose respect for me, watching me be so utterly incompetent at something he’s good at.

I could go into strict Mario Kart training on my own, but again… I’d just be condemning myself to hours of failure and frustration, and I already do that at work, where I at least get paid for it. You know?

Is there such a thing as training wheels for video games? Like… easier than easy mode?
posted by snowmentality at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


My friends are always like “Let’s play Mario Kart! That’ll be fun and easy!”

And this is why I complain that there has never been another Mario Kart: Double Dash. That one allowed literal backseat driving in co-op mode, which was awesome if you weren't much for driving games or didn't feel like controlling all the things at once. Both players on a team got to be useful in different ways, and it was great.

And there are tons and tons of video games that require nothing at all in the way of reflexes and not much for hand-eye coordination. They don't even have to be competitive.

Plus I worry that he’ll lose respect for me, watching me be so utterly incompetent at something he’s good at.

And that's what this whole post is about: if you are experienced at a thing and want other people to enjoy it with you, no matter what it is, you've got to have some patience with beginners. And probably make sure they get a chance to do the thing on their own without you watching over their shoulder. It is often stressful to have your first steps in a thing be a fast-paced group activity, even when everyone's a beginner.

And if it's not something that looks like it'd be fun after a bit of practice, there are plenty of other pastimes out there.
posted by asperity at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Is there such a thing as training wheels for video games? Like… easier than easy mode?
There is! It's not super common, but it's becoming moreso, especially among narrative-heavy games. An upcoming game, Death Stranding, has a Super Easy Mode that's designed for folks who aren't interested in the "git gud" approach. That Ars Technica article mentions other games that support an easier-than-easy mode. On Twitter, developer Rami Ismail pointed out that Final Fantasy XV's approach to a very easy mode helped his mom get into gaming.
posted by sgranade at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


... And the husband is in his mancave watching... what looks like a demo on the flatscreen tv of "Twelve Things You Must Have From Lowes." We just got back from Lowes... why did you ask?
But usually he has his headphones on playing "Left for Dead" or "7 Ways to Die" by remote with Honorable Youngest Offspring. Or he's building stuff with Minecraft.
Oh, they've tried to get me involved. I just nod and pull out my crochet while they travel the latest wasted zombie apocalypse deathscape. I'm making fluffy frilly pastel granny squares. They are all blood and gore and undead carnage.
If it ain't broke, stab it until it bleeds.
Of course, if they made a version of "Left for Dead" with fiberart and kittens, I would be all over that... on second thought, the combo of rope and killer kittens and creepy cemeteries in the woods... didn't Stephen King do that already?
Happy Harvest Season, all!
posted by TrishaU at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2019


Of course, if they made a version of "Left for Dead" with fiberart and kittens, I would be all over that...

@TrushaU, while not a FPS, you might consider Yoshi's Crafted World, a really beautiful and enjoyable cloth-based puzzling sidescroller.
posted by Fizz at 10:46 AM on September 17, 2019


I have been meaning to play any of the several yarn-themed games (Unravel, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Yoshi's Wooly World) except that I think they're probably all knit-centric and it'd make my hooking hands itch with the desire to crochet it all.
posted by asperity at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


I get that these articles are (mostly) observing a gendered phenomenon and are therefore probably not for me, but some of the generalizing on offer about who games (men; male partners) and who doesn't (women; female partners) gives me the same feeling I got from being a young girl interested in video games in the first place: a weird anomaly who sucks at performing gender. I really, really believe that gaming isn't a gendered hobby, and that viewpoints like these are part of the reason girls and women who game feel alienated (in addition to the toxicity of some gaming cultures).

I liked the first article most, I think, because it's good tips for seeing if a friend or partner might be interested in something that interests you. One of my best gaming friends did something similar with me and wine-tasting, and while it will never be a passion of mine the way it is for him, I can at least see what he sees in it. Great. Why bring "women have good executive function and are good at performing emotional labor, while men are bad at those things and play video games all day" into the mix?
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 10:49 AM on September 17, 2019 [19 favorites]


Also, Kirby's Epic Yarn.
posted by Fizz at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2019


GoblinHoney: "Can I ask what activities you deem to be superior ways to spend that time? Like, real activities, not nonsense like volunteering or charity or exercise. Life is here to be wasted, the only people not wasting their lives are people who are wasting their lives deluding themselves about how they aren't wasting what has no inherent value. "

*squints* Are you kidding? The time that I spend volunteering is some of the best hours of my life. In the summer, my wife & kids & I go to a farm a mile from our house and we pick weeds and harvest veggies and tend the place in order to grow food for the local food bank. You would prefer that we play fucking video games, and let these hungry families just not eat the ten or twenty tons of food we help grow each year?

Or the hours I spend at meetings and events with my son's Scout troop, so boys and girls can learn skills and confidence and leadership? I should blow that of for, what, watching a comic book movie?

That's to say nothing of reading a book that teaches me something, or cooking food I want to eat, or brewing something that I want to drink -- or isn't that "real" enough? Good heavens, what a cramped little hole you live in. The very name of this FPP is such a contrast to what you wrote.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


(P.S. In reality my husband is very kind and patient and would never show negative judgment about me failing at a game. This does not convince my anxiety brain to stop yelling YOU SUCK AND EVERYONE IS LAUGHING AT YOU, especially when there is a demonstrably major difference in our skill levels.)

What I really need is training wheels for the controller. Like, super slow speed so that I can figure out how to even make my character go in the direction I want her to go, and like, bowling-lane bumpers to stop me running off of cliffs repeatedly while I figure out how to even go forward.
posted by snowmentality at 10:59 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


i appreciate the emphasis on finding the niche that the other person will enjoy instead of square-peg-round-holing! i was already into gaming but my ex was a capital g Gamer. i wasn't necessarily into the same type of games he was, but even with the ones i was interested in, physical and mental stuff makes game controls hard for me, even after months of playing something. ffxv button-mashing combat or games that aren't timing-sensitive like fire emblems are my sweet spot, but i still don't mind wrestling with a game if i'm really into it. we had some really good times getting me into different late-series resident evil games even though they took me So Long to get through. (re6 is famously for babies and its my favorite anything ever and i died so much in it)

on the other hand, we tried to play couch co-op nintendo party games expecting Relaxing Fun Partner Time, and oh my god those were a special kind of hell. they were just difficult enough in general and pretty impossible for me and we also learned that we were bad at communicating effectively and i don't think he really understood why/that it was hard for me and it was just super frustrating.

and then some games i had no interest in playing but was happy to listen to him tell me about or idly watch him play. early in our relationship, it was my favorite thing to fall asleep to him gaming, even on a stream when we were long distance, and he thought he was boring me but it was just so relaxing and then i'd want him to tell me about what i missed while i was asleep.

lot of different ways to skin a gamer!
posted by gaybobbie at 11:05 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


A charitable interpretation of GoblinHoney's comment is: You can't spend every spare minute and hour tending community gardens, mentoring children or curing the local lepers. We all need some quality down time! Gaming is as valid as watching Superhero Movie 2XB: The Revengening or the latest Netflix miniseries.

In this Golden Age of television, I find myself watching less and less TV. Readily available movies tend to be cartoons and reboots of sequels of prequels of GrimDark Boomer-era comic book stuff and various incarnations of spinoffs and retreads of things I never watched in the first place.

Gaming is fun down time. Not for everyone, I must add!
posted by SoberHighland at 11:07 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


What I really need is training wheels for the controller. Like, super slow speed so that I can figure out how to even make my character go in the direction I want her to go, and like, bowling-lane bumpers to stop me running off of cliffs repeatedly while I figure out how to even go forward.

You should consider Celeste. On the outside it's a super difficult side-scrolling platformer where you jump through obstacles, spikes, cliffs, in order to get from one side of a room to another. That might sound like a nightmare, but the creators of the game have made the most friendly assist mode possible.

You can slow down the speed of the game, you can have infinite lives, infinite jumps, and so much more. This article explains that in more detail.
posted by Fizz at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


snowmentality: I came to gaming late, with minor hand-eye coordination issues and will never develop fast-twitch reflexes. I will never be able to play Mario Kart.

What happened is that I discovered I love RPGs, and my husband steers the character around and does all the tedious fighty bits while I make the game decisions and spend 3443543534523 hours in the character creator to make the perfect face. This also allows the Mr to grind the character alone when he needs to let off steam and I'm doing other things.

I also play Skyrim by myself and ended up turning my controller issues into character moments. Murderface McKenzie is a tank that travels alone because he keeps accidentally killing his companions. He also falls off cliffs a lot. But I put it on easy mode, handed the controller to my husband to get me through the opening sequence with the dragon, modded it to prevent vampires from appearing in cities, and never, ever did the main story quest, which means I have spent many enjoyable hours bumbling around Skyrim with not much frustration.
posted by telophase at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Gaming is fun down time. Not for everyone, I must add!

To each his own: I find that computer games make me tense, and that's without the participation of my ultra-competitive spouse. (The only exceptions have been Tetris in the 1990s, Snood in the 2000s, and Alto's Adventure Zen Mode in the 2010s.) But we both like spending time, shoulder-to-shoulder, doing constructive things in the yard and the kitchen. *shrug*

I agree with grumpybear69, above: "Together is the key word."
posted by wenestvedt at 11:19 AM on September 17, 2019


In the summer, my wife & kids & I go to a farm a mile from our house and we pick weeds and harvest veggies and tend the place in order to grow food for the local food bank.

oh, Stardew Valley LARPing. I get it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:20 AM on September 17, 2019 [17 favorites]


I described my 1980s gaming, ... then a many year gap, then buying an Xbox 360 around 12 years ago. The twin-stick design of modern controllers was entirely new to me. It was very difficult for me to learn! It took me hours of practice to be able to navigate in 3D in say, Oblivion (which was the older version of Skyrim, basically the same game though).

The key is finesse. It takes practice not to jam the sticks all the way. You ease them around in varying degrees. Takes practice. But you'll get there. I did.

As far as "pick up and play" goes... I was a pretty seasoned gamer several years ago. Some friends invited me over to play a group sports game on the Wii after a dinner party. Talking about bowling, archery, a simulation of old-time single player sports. "Fun for the whole family" right? I absolutely SUCKED at using the Wii. It has a learning curve just like every other game and control system. It is not objectively easier to use than other styles of games. I don't know why that concept persists... Wii is EASY!... marketing maybe?
posted by SoberHighland at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


FWIW I don't have anything against playing video games - I loves me some GTA5, Unravel and Super Daryl Deluxe - but bristled at the idea that volunteering etc. was nonsense or worthless. It isn't either/or. And maybe GoblinHoney was being facetious and/or humorously nihilistic, in which case I overreacted. But I do volunteer and exercise, and also women do more volunteering than men, so it rubbed me in many wrong ways.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:29 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


"*squints* Are you kidding? The time that I spend volunteering is some of the best hours of my life. In the summer, my wife & kids & I go to a farm a mile from our house and we pick weeds and harvest veggies and tend the place in order to grow food for the local food bank. You would prefer that we play fucking video games, and let these hungry families just not eat the ten or twenty tons of food we help grow each year?

Or the hours I spend at meetings and events with my son's Scout troop, so boys and girls can learn skills and confidence and leadership? I should blow that of for, what, watching a comic book movie?

That's to say nothing of reading a book that teaches me something, or cooking food I want to eat, or brewing something that I want to drink -- or isn't that "real" enough? Good heavens, what a cramped little hole you live in. The very name of this FPP is such a contrast to what you wrote."

I do live in a cramped little hole but I'm glad you derive such pleasure from altruistic activities. Obviously those things are good. I was asking if you do not see video games as an acceptable way for someone to spend their spare time, what comparable activities do you see value in and why. Videogames, books, movies, TV, music, performance, dance, etc, are all sides of the same damn art coin and I'm asking if you see inherent value in some art mediums but not others.

If your preferred activity after a long day of work is to find some charity work to do, that's super wonderful, I really wish I enjoyed "doing good" enough or was good enough of a person to make it an activity worth seeking out and doing for it's own sake. I would venture most people after their day of running through the capitalist grinder are looking for activities that require relatively little energy and labor from them while trying to maximizing dopamine at the same time. I.E., read a book, watch TV, play a game.

I have talked to folks who genuinely seem to view idle art consumption as guilty pleasures regardless, if that's your position, so be it, but the way you singled out videogames made me think there was something specific to that art medium you looked down upon and I was curious as to why, if that was the case.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:38 AM on September 17, 2019


As for the Switch... I find it has the Goldilocks problem for me. In my opinion, it's too small for most games as many are just scaled-down in size from big games, and it is too big to be truly portable. I can't even play the thing without added grips as it's completely non-ergodynamic. The buttons are tiny, too tiny even for the small device. And the sticks feel flimsy. The whole thing needs a physical redesign in my opinion. Many people are getting stick-drift from using it, which backs up my flimsy build hypothesis. And this portable device begs for a glass screen protector, as the screen it has is plastic. Poor design.

Plug it in to a TV, and it becomes an underpowered console with a flimsy controller. And Nintendo never reduces the price on its exclusive properties. Games like Breath of the Wild and Mario Version 47.b that came out at the Switch's release are still full price usually. And the Nintendo online store offers a dizzying number of games, piles of shovel-ware pixel art games of dubious quality. Guess you can tell I'm not a Switch fan. It's an amazing device that falls short of everything it offers, IMO.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


As for the Switch... I find it has the Goldilocks problem for me. In my opinion, it's too small for most games as many are just scaled-down in size from big games, and it is too big to be truly portable.

The two games I play on my Switch are Civ VI and Skyrim - both big games as far as I'm concerned (although Skyrim is a bit old now). I play with it on my lap on the sofa, in bed, and on the bus with no issues. My 5 year-old son will play with it in portable mode too, again with no issues.

I am with you on the drift though. That shouldn't be happening.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:49 AM on September 17, 2019


I can read a book for hours in basically the same position. I can play the PS4 for hours in basically the same position. With the Switch, I find myself moving it close to my face, away from my face, repeat, all the time. I can use reading glasses with it, which helps. But the dynamic nature of games combined with the size just makes it uncomfortable to play on. I'm always shifting my view of it. It's hard for me to get lost in a game that way. I'm always aware I'm holding the thing in my hands and it's not... quite... right. But this is just my opinion of course.
posted by SoberHighland at 11:54 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, I mean, I have a Switch, but I could do that with Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the Wii U, too. But the portable screen was bigger on the Wii U. I've been holding the Switch inches from my face trying to find a restless cricket to take a picture of so I can find more restless crickets without holding the screen inches from my face.

I just wish Nintendo had embraced the casual gamer market it had tapped into with the Wii. There was so money to be made, but casual gamers aren't as important as "core" gamers, per Nintendo. (Also, TIL that the President of Nintendo of America is Doug Bowser!)
posted by Ruki at 12:07 PM on September 17, 2019


I don't understand how the Wii was more casual. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting what you mean by casual? If anything, the motion controllers on the Wii take more space and movement and input than other game devices.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:13 PM on September 17, 2019


Casual and core gamer
posted by Ruki at 12:21 PM on September 17, 2019


When people talk about casual games on Wii they're often thinking stuff like Wii Bowling where it doesn't take very long to explain how to play.
posted by RobotHero at 12:24 PM on September 17, 2019


The Wii sold like bonkers for a while but for every Wii Sports there's a hundred shovelware garbage titles trying to cash in, and nobody bought them, and a lot of people who really liked Wii Sports didn't buy them, either. I really doubt Nintendo walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars out of concern for prestige in a larger gaming market they barely acknowledge exists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:34 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


"Core gamer" is a just a shitty euphemism for "males 13-35", and "casual gamer" is an equally shitty euphemism for everyone else. Let's not use that terminology here.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:45 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


But that’s my point? Not acknowledging that the casual gaming market exists? Nintendo didn’t develop a lot of solid casual games. Most of it was third party crap. It’s kinda the same thing for the Switch. For every Breath of the Wild, there’s five absolute garbage titles. The Wii was popular in a demographic that Nintendo saw as unfavorable, so it didn’t put the work in. (On preview: I’m using that terminology because Nintendo used that terminology. I agree that it’s shitty and a euphemism for males 13 - 35, but that is the whole point. Instead of marketing to the demographic it actually appealed to and carving out a niche for itself in an untapped market, it scrapped the whole platform because it appealed to the wrong people. Because anyone who isn’t a 13 - 35 man is not desirable. That’s gross.)

I should probably leave the thread before I before I get yelled at. Sorry.
posted by Ruki at 12:55 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


GoblinHoney: I have talked to folks who genuinely seem to view idle art consumption as guilty pleasures regardless, if that's your position, so be it, but the way you singled out videogames made me think there was something specific to that art medium you looked down upon and I was curious as to why, if that was the case.

That makes more sense. People are entitled to pursue whatever they want to in the threescore-and-ten we're all allotted, and there's no accounting for taste. But the older I get the more I think about how time is short.

I feel that a lot of video games (and books and music and everything) are like junk food -- I wish the creators had made something a little more... Non-crap? Non-lazy? Like, I watch my son play on his XBox and those FPS games are just an excuse to shoot people. Yet there were also beautiful games like Soul Bubbles on the Nintendo DS, or clever, fun things like Mario Kart that a crowd of cousins & adults can play together. There's no brains smeared across the screen, the players are happy -- they might even have shared a cooperative win -- but it's harder artistic work to create a story and visuals that makes that positive gameplay...whereas swapping the uniforms and sidearms of the stock figures on one FPS lets you plotz out another version.

20 years ago I worked at one of the country's biggest "name" architectural firms. We saw that demo of the Unreal Engine where they had built Notre Dame cathedral, and were proposing that architects export their electronic building designs from AutoCad into something that could in turn remake them into 3-D worlds using the Unreal Engine. It was amaaaaazing. But two decades later we got "Tom Clancy SEAL Team Six 2019 Version Reloaded With Bigger Bullets HOO-AHH DLC Loot Packs" and I just... Sorry; am old, and it's hard to come to terms with sometimes.

I am off to watch "Matlock" now...
posted by wenestvedt at 1:36 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I also wish more art was higher quality. I don't see what this has to do with video games. 90% of everything is crap whether we're talking video games, music, TV, movies, books, or any other form of media or art.
posted by VTX at 1:58 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Wasn't one of the Assassin's Creed games set in Paris and feature Notre Dame? I don't actually play a lot of games (I just play the same ones a lot) but the big games are the equivalent of your blockbuster movie and those tend to be crap too. I'm guessing once your budget is in the high 8 figures or more commercial considerations trump everything else.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:07 PM on September 17, 2019


Somebody write an article on how to get your gaming girlfriend into watching nature documentaries with you.

It's me, I'm the gaming girlfriend, and I desperately want to enjoy watching nature documentaries with my partner. But I get so bored. It's, like, fine, because they're even more into gaming than I am, so we just game together, but it's one of the things I'd like to share with them because they love it so much. It's not that I don't like learning new things about animals and science and nature, so it's not really a "it's okay to have different interests," my brain just... shuts off. Help me.
posted by brook horse at 2:10 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


20 years ago I worked at one of the country's biggest "name" architectural firms. We saw that demo of the Unreal Engine where they had built Notre Dame cathedral, and were proposing that architects export their electronic building designs from AutoCad into something that could in turn remake them into 3-D worlds using the Unreal Engine. It was amaaaaazing. But two decades later we got "Tom Clancy SEAL Team Six 2019 Version Reloaded With Bigger Bullets HOO-AHH DLC Loot Packs" and I just... Sorry; am old, and it's hard to come to terms with sometimes.

There is definitely this side of gaming, but I think there's also the other side too. Indie game developers like Gorogoa by Jason Roberts or Gris by Nomada Studios, a Spanish developer.

It takes work to wade through all the shit, you have to push aside the latest Call of Duty: Guns in Your Face 8, but there is gold out there, you just have to search for it. And I think, these are the games that you have to show to your loved ones, to prove to them that there's more to gaming than just online multiplayer toxic masculinity.

As an aside, that's what I'm trying to do on MetaFilter, week in and week out. I am hoping it works.
posted by Fizz at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


(It's weird, because at this point military FPSs are probably the least popular they've ever been in years, but they still cast a huge shadow in popular culture. Call of Duty still gets regular releases, but the only other one that's still in the conversation is a years-old multiplayer shooter called Rainbow Six: Siege, which lets you blow holes through the walls and ceilings and be very surprising. Most of the big releases these days are character action games like Spider-Man or Assassin's Creed.)

I haven't tried to get anyone I know into gaming, and that's because I learned that I absolutely don't have the patience. I'm so used to being able to set my own pace that I can't really play multiplayer games with friends, let alone an SO who doesn't have the same experience.
posted by Merus at 3:24 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Core gamer" is a just a shitty euphemism for "males 13-35", and "casual gamer" is an equally shitty euphemism for everyone else. Let's not use that terminology here.

Dude, you seem to have elbowed out a commenter who was contributing an informative link to the discussion. Reifying the consensus that we're suspicious of the term "casual gamer" around here was not, IMHO, worth the cost.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:41 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think self-identified gamers and self-identified “gaming culture” focuses too much on FPS and battle-focused games, where the object is to fight things.

I’ve been playing the Sims 3 for as long as it’s been out, I have every pack that’s ever been released, and the best things about the game are 1) the silliness and subtle humor throughout, and 2) the ability to create and share content. People build the most amazing houses, like 60 to 80-hour creations, and share them. I’ve never played Sims 4, but it looks like the functionality has been expanded. And that’s not even touching the user-created clothes, hairstyles, Sims, buildings, even playable worlds.

I just think the whole idea of “gamer = FPS player” has overtaken the idea of gaming, and it’s hogwash. (Toxically masculine hogwash.) I’ve put something like 1500 hours into all the iterations of Civ that I own (5, 6, and Beyond Earth) and easily twice that into the Sims. For that matter, I’ve put a crazy amount of time into Township.

I also find this whole idea of “getting your girlfriend into gaming” bizarre. It’s one thing to introduce one’s interests, but gaming is an absolutely enormous industry, it’s not like it’s rare. It’s like carefully introducing someone to the idea of watching the Super Bowl. And secondly, why am I, a woman, supposed to WANT to play a FPS? Does someone want to sit around and watch me farm crops, and build a 5-bedroom/3-bathroom Craftsman with a garden and swimming pool? No?

I don’t play FPSes because I think war games are incredibly boring. It’s not because I never heard of them. I don’t want to steal cars. I don’t want to go on raids. I don’t want to be a survivalist amongst zombies. I like farming crops and building houses and running households and kingdoms. Those are the games that I play. Aside from the Sims, there may not be very many large-scale “building” games out there, but only because the gaming industry believes with all its heart that if you’re not shooting something, you’re not really playing.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:12 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


"I feel that a lot of video games (and books and music and everything) are like junk food -- I wish the creators had made something a little more... Non-crap? Non-lazy? "

I think that's fair for many games, but also every other art medium. Not every book is War and Peace, by volume most are probably porn and pulp. I often say "I hate movies" without actually meaning it, but generally there are very few movies released each year I care to see, even less I care to watch while not doing something else.

For what it's worth, I am a huge proponent of the art medium itself and I totally have a similar disdain for the average trash AAA thing that gets marketed and bought by millions. Most of those people working on the game certainly have much better ideas for art than Shootermans 99, but at the end of the day, videogames are more commercially locked up than other mediums and are especially malformed by capitalist pressure. The bright side, as time goes on, it becomes easier and easier for lone artists to set out to make their own games with newer tools that allow them to make the art without having to learn a bunch of other skillsets that takeaway from their design.
posted by GoblinHoney at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


And secondly, why am I, a woman, supposed to WANT to play a FPS?

Just to be clear, the part I’m objecting to is the dual idea that a) women don’t play FPSes if they feel like it, and b) the only reason they don’t play is because they must have no knowledge of these mysterious things!
posted by Autumnheart at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Someday I want to read a "how to get your boyfriend into visual novels" (or pet sites, or arty Twine games, or any other kind of game that's usually coded feminine) article.
posted by storytam at 4:31 PM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


Can I ask what activities you deem to be superior ways to spend that time? Like, real activities, not nonsense like volunteering or charity or exercise. Life is here to be wasted, the only people not wasting their lives are people who are wasting their lives deluding themselves about how they aren't wasting what has no inherent value.

It's not a question of superiority. It's a question of "Dude. You have been playing the same game for six hours. It is three a.m. YOU COULD GET LAID HERE, BUDDY, BUT YOU'D RATHER GAME." Those games are designed to be utterly absorbing and to shut out the rest of reality. I have other hobbies but I don't do them for six hours straight without a break. I find it concerning when you just can't stop.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:36 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’m the girlfriend/wife who isn’t into video games, and 100% of the reason is that I suck at video games, because I don’t already have experience.

Oh, reminds me of when I wanted to learn Magic: The Gathering but everyone else I knew was way too advanced to play with the likes of little ol' noob me. I'd probably run into that with actual gaming too.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:38 PM on September 17, 2019


Here at forty and realizing that I barely remember the majority of the games I played in my life, even the ones I was completely absorbed in and spent hours and hours on, I am pretty comfortable saying that there is no point at which I will ever look back and wish I'd spent more time gaming. I don't begrudge anyone their fleeting entertainments in this vale of tears, but it's really fine to not play video games.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:44 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I spend 6 hours doing my hobbies, but I don’t ask, much less expect, someone to watch me do them as some form of performative adoration and relationship bonding. I love reading more than anything, but I don’t suggest to my hypothetical boyfriend that he might be more into reading if he watched me read for an hour or two.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:15 PM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


It's not a question of superiority. It's a question of "Dude. You have been playing the same game for six hours. It is three a.m. YOU COULD GET LAID HERE, BUDDY, BUT YOU'D RATHER GAME." Those games are designed to be utterly absorbing and to shut out the rest of reality. I have other hobbies but I don't do them for six hours straight without a break. I find it concerning when you just can't stop.

sometimes i watch six episodes of a tv show. sometimes i read a novel for six hours. it's literally the same thing. it's art. it's not an addiction.
posted by JimBennett at 5:33 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Those games are designed to be utterly absorbing and to shut out the rest of reality. I have other hobbies but I don't do them for six hours straight without a break. I find it concerning when you just can't stop.

I dunno, I have the same problem with books, and plenty of people do that with TV. I get games are designed to be more absorbing but it’s not inherently worse than doing so with any other hobby. Yes yes the benefits of reading, but trust me re-reading gay Robin Hood erotica for the third time is probably not more valuable than playing, say, Gone Home. Hyperfocusing can indeed be a problem and games are easier to hyperfocus on but it’s not somehow more terrible because they hyperfocused on games, specifically.

Also, everyone I know that spends that much time playing games got into it because they’re depressed or ADHD and can’t afford therapy and it’s a way for them to either distract themselves or get a modicum of dopamine. Which isn’t, like, great, but maybe the problem isn’t the games? I dunno. I try not to judge.

I spend 6 hours doing my hobbies, but I don’t ask, much less expect, someone to watch me do them as some form of performative adoration and relationship bonding.

It can be fun to watch story-based or puzzle games and comment and discuss things but anything that’s just repetitive cycles (Warframe, Stardew Valley, Overwatch)—why would anyone think it’d be fun to watch that without being part of the game? This attitude is weird to me, wanting to PLAY games together is totally understandable but just have your partner be a captive onlooker, what? I sometimes want my partner to be in the room while I’m gaming but they’re doing something else (and I do the reverse for them)—mostly so I can be like, “LOOK isn’t this the most perfect walk animation for the ‘me on my way to steal your girl’ meme you’ve ever seen??” and shit—but I don’t need their captive attention. Are there really people who expect that?
posted by brook horse at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


But that’s my point? Not acknowledging that the casual gaming market exists? Nintendo didn’t develop a lot of solid casual games. Most of it was third party crap. It’s kinda the same thing for the Switch. For every Breath of the Wild, there’s five absolute garbage titles. The Wii was popular in a demographic that Nintendo saw as unfavorable, so it didn’t put the work in.

not trying to yell at all here because i think this is an interesting point, but just to provide a different perspective, nintendo has never in the history of the company done anything to appeal to one market or another. nintendo does whatever it wants to do because it's nintendo, and they know people will buy their systems and games (or not buy them) regardless. hardcore gamers are just as frustrated as you are because nintendo is still like ten years behind everyone else regarding online gaming, for example. meanwhile something like "kirby star allies" from last year or "yoshi's crafted world" from this year are absolutely pitched towards the casual market. nintendo only puts out like, 10-15 first party titles a year and there are always a handful of easier games among that batch.

i also think this is a bit ahistorical because the wii u was explicitly marketed as "like the Wii you enjoyed, but better!" to the point where people didn't realize it was a new console and not just an accessory. but by that point, the casual gamers had moved on to the cellphone. it's a lot harder to get people who don't normally play games to buy a $300 console when the thing they carry around with them all the time also plays peggle and it only costs $5 instead of $30, you know?

i think the switch's marketing leans young, for sure, everyone in their ads is under 35, but i think it is pitched as a sort of party/casual system that just also happens to have "hardcore" titles as well (we as a culture really need to develop some better terminology for this divide).... it's a shame it hasn't captured you because i think my switch is one of my favorite consoles i've ever owned and there's an absolute abundance of good games on there. and it really is fun to put it on a table and hand a joy-con to a friend/relative/loved one who's never played it before, just like the first days of the Wii. i do think it's probably a failure on nintendo's part that somebody in your position isn't excited about the switch, and hopefully as the system's lifecycle continues they'll be able to win you over
posted by JimBennett at 5:49 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


When I was a kid I said -- entirely serious -- to my mom, "Why don't you come play D&D with me and Robert? You're smart, you would learn quickly." Gently, she explained that different people have different interests, and that while she was glad that we enjoyed the game, she was interested in other things. It was the kindest, smartest brush-off I ever got, and I have remembered it ever since.

Not every book is War and Peace, by volume most are probably porn and pulp.

GoblinHoney, we agree way more than we disagree, and I was a hot-headed ass. You Do You, and play what you love; meanwhile, I might be reading "War and Peace" but I might be eating Pringles and re-reading a Daniel Keys Moran paperback for the umpteenth time. And when I stand up to crack my back, I might spending the rest of the evening cleaning the windows of my glass house. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:50 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm a gamer...at least the sort of gamer that some other folks here are. I've never played FPS games, but grew up on Civ, SMAC, and JRPGs. Then 11 years ago, my eldest started playing WoW and I joined him. He stopped, but I found it scratched an itch for me and kept going.

Every couple of years since then, I've occasionally checked in with my wife to see if she'd be interested in joining me in WoW, she'd say no, and that was it. Then they put transmog in the game, letting you assemble outfits for your characters based on all the armor and weapons you'd ever had in the game, and (despite not liking fashion or shopping in the real world), she loved it and would eagerly make new outfits when the semiannual special event for it came around.

Then, a couple of weeks ago she said she'd like to give the full game a try. Awkwardly, this coincided with the release of Classic WoW and my eldest taking over my account to play it, so we haven't actually had a chance since then, but I'm looking forward to trying it with her.

(We do play boardgames and D&D as a family, it's just videogames she's never had any interest in.)
posted by Four Ds at 9:34 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't have much to say about the nature of gaming and relationships where only one partner is really into gaming, but it's fascinating reading about this supposed gender divide in relationships where one partner is 'the gamer' and the other partner isn't. I'm generally socializing in female-majority spaces off MeFi and most of my younger friends (early 20somethings) have never known what it's like to grow up without some form of gaming, so, if anything, both partners in a couple are very into games, or into their own separate genres of games, or just see it as another form of entertainment rather than something to wrap one's identity around & are casually gaming together (whether it's actively seeking multiplayer games or taking turns on single-player games), instead of just the one person playing while the other person puts up with it.

It'd be real interesting to see Pokemon as a touchstone for a sort of other space w/r/t gaming - not quite as simplified as, say, a Yoshi game, and somewhat strategic enough to compel adult players, while still being accessible enough to kids younger than the young protags, in addition to also having enough nostalgia appeal to former kids who grew up with older versions of Pokemon & a chill cuteness appeal for adults who never played it when they were children. Maybe it's because most of the close cishet male friends I have are older than me and thus juuust old enough to have missed growing up with Pokemon, but I'm usually seeing somewhat of a gender reversal when it comes to Pokemon-gamers in couples: it's the girlfriend who's really into it and the boyfriend who isn't. (Unless you're Griffin McElroy doing a Nuzlocke run, I guess?)

Is this where we hear from male MeFites who also love Pokemon? :D

I haven't seen Pokemon mentioned in any of the comments above (maybe b/c it's mostly about grinding for experience points for pocket monsters and not terribly strategic or narratively unique?). For me, though, playing Pokemon games has been a consistent source of easygoing entertainment over the years, and is usually the reason I still keep up with gaming news from time to time, ha.

(I'm also fond of BOTW and actually am one of the under-35 casual gamers the Switch was successfully marketed to, so I'd be happy to encourage people who don't typically game to check out the console - portability is so convenient! - but that's another comment for another day.)
posted by rather be jorting at 10:27 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


(I'm also fond of BOTW and actually am one of the under-35 casual gamers the Switch was successfully marketed to, so I'd be happy to encourage people who don't typically game to check out the console - portability is so convenient! - but that's another comment for another day.)

I recently got a Switch and BOTW has been revelatory in terms of my relationship to "gaming". I actually have owned a couple of systems over the years (GameBoy color, a DS and a Wii (that I didn't buy--my brother won it and didn't own a TV), but they've primarily been vehicles for playing Mario (and a few other sports games on the DS). I picked BOTW over Mario Odyssey with great trepidation--I've literally never played any other Zelda game, I've never played RPGs on the computer, me playing Mario 64 was basically Mario running around drunk. I bought Yoku's Island Express, too, because it showed up as highly rated but felt "safe". I played a bit of Zelda and then switched to Yoku and mostly stuck with that for a while. But in the last few days, I went back to Zelda and I'm, honest to god, making progress and enjoying it. (It's also easier to dip in and out of. Yoku is much more addictive.) So I've been thinking a bit about my relationship to gaming and what that fear is. There's definitely a gender component (see the premise of literally every article in this post) and, because I wasn't allowed video games growing up (that GameBoy color was my twelfth birthday present and it was a Momentous Occasion), feels like it's tied into nationality and class, which is... probably all about gender at the end of the day. (Things I experienced as being about nationality have a tendency to be driven by my parent's class anxiety and they usually were secretly about gender. Fun times.)
posted by hoyland at 4:29 AM on September 18, 2019


Life is meant to be enjoyed. Luckily for me, I enjoy both helping people in the world and also mah storiez. Now everyone hug and let's play a TOTALLY FOR FUN round of Killer Queen at the arcade. Heh heh, I'm going to destroy you...

edit: Games have given me a lot to think about in many ways as have books, poems, a walk in the park, an old dying industrialist whispering Rosebud and cats. The art form has certainly evolved beyond Junk Food status if you scratch the surface.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:40 AM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


edit: Games have given me a lot to think about in many ways as have books, poems, a walk in the park, an old dying industrialist whispering Rosebud and cats. The art form has certainly evolved beyond Junk Food status if you scratch the surface.

I just beat the first Kingdom Hearts game again last night and I just realized it was instrumental in my rejection of the fundamentalist Christian belief that "the heart is the root of all evil and not to be trusted" and that's why I still love it so much all these years later. As a kid, I was not allowed to watch Mulan explicitly because it tells you to listen to your heart. I was always told how bad and evil the heart is, how it will always lead you astray because humans are sinners, etc etc. That was part of my worldview.

There's a line at the end of the game: "The heart may be weak, and sometimes it may even give in. But I've learned that deep down, there's a light that never goes out!" Cliche as hell, right? But picture little 12-year-old me nearly crying, clutching my controller and shouting "THAT'S RIGHT!" as Sora proves the bad guy wrong: the core of every heart is not darkness. Kingdom Hearts taught me that humans are not intrinsically evil, and I think that's valuable. Probably there's other media that could have done the same thing, but I didn't have access to it. Especially as a kid, even 'junk food' can have an impact if it introduces you to an idea you've never seen before. I'm still not sure I've come across a line that sums up my beliefs about human nature as succinctly, either.
posted by brook horse at 5:29 PM on September 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


I found one of Fizz's past Pokemon FPPs (thanks, past and present Fizz!), which linked to three sweet Twitter threads by Film Crit Hulk as he plays through Pokemon for the first time. From the 3rd thread:
What did I learn in playing Pokemon for the first time?

One answer is I feel like I caught up on 20 years of pop culture. Like I caught up on weird game tropes and phrases that y'all having been living with day in and day out. I'm now filled with that same understanding and desire to "catch em all!" etc.

Another is that I learned that it's impossible to "miss" anything in pop culture. That you can always come in and have a meaningful experience with something, regardless of timing or context. There's no such thing as being born to early or too late. There's just the experience.

But honestly, neither of these are the big thing I learned.

The big thing I learned is how much you all love pokemon. And why. Because it's not just some meaningless artifact that was a staple of your childhood. That's not its sole redeeming value. It's good because it's GOOD. And more importantly, it is a force of good.

It's gentle, and light, and calming, It's also weird beyond belief, full of the kind of bizarre rabbit holes that can make you have endless existential questions about the depicted world (I will never, ever get over Mr. Mime). But that's part of what makes it so great.

I feel like I've seen thousands of people react to this thread, from all across gender and sexual spectrums, all of whom found tremendous solace with this silly, amazing little phenomenon. You are so lucky that you had this in your lives.

And I am so happy for you.

<3HULK
posted by rather be jorting at 8:16 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


For maximum entertainment, re-read that opening paragraph, substituting heroin for video games.

Just wait til you start reading foodie blogs and substitute 'truffle' with 'heroin'... really reveals those junkies for what they are, dunnit?

Oh you love the smell of a used bookstore? Haha, more like the smell of a used HEROINstore you fiend. Wow, this trick works on everything!
posted by FatherDagon at 7:11 AM on September 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


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