(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the January 2009 issue of GameCola, back when GameCola was published in a monthly online magazine format.)
For this year’s January issue, Vangie and I are switching places; I’m writing her column and she’s writing mine. This means that for this month, and this month only, you, the reader, can become the recipient of my accumulated wisdom. How fortunate for you!
Every so often someone tells me “Gee Mike, it’s really great that you found a girl who’s into videogames, too!” Those of you who have been reading this column know by now that this was certainly not the case when I first met Vangie. While there are certainly natural girl gamers out there for guys to find, your best bet is to find a girl and make her a gamer. So here are some tips for you single guys out there looking for a girl (or guy, should you prefer) to share your hobby with:
1. Find a Good Girl. This is probably the hardest part, but it’s also the most important. You want to find a girl who’s open to trying new things and will not instantly dismiss your hobbies. Truth be told, this a key to just about any good relationships, because if you are in a relationship with a person who is dismissive of your interests, your odds of finding happiness are pretty low to begin with. This part relies as much on luck as it does on anything, but good relationship fundamentals are the foundation for creating a gamer girlfriend.
2. Start Slow. You are not going to turn a non-gamer girlfriend into a gamer by throwing her right into something like Halo or Final Fantasy. Due to inexperience, there’s a good chance she will lose or find the game frustrating, thus diminishing future chances that she’ll want to try videogames. Start with something easy, and gradually work your way up to the harder stuff.
3. Be Sneaky. Figure out what your girl likes, and pick games that play to those strengths. Vangie loves puzzles and cute things, so I started her on Phoenix Wright and Animal Crossing. Doesyour girl like action? Start her on some old-school platformers or shooters that are easy to pick up. Does she like a good plot? Try a simple RPG, but be careful: As I learned with Kingdom Hearts and Chrono Trigger, concepts such as stats and armor do not naturally come to those without a background in gaming and can prove wearisome.
4. Play Together. Find games you can play together where she can actively participate without too much pressure. Mario Galaxy is a great example of this: I was able to do all of the platforming tasks while Vangie could have fun collecting star-bits and freezing enemies. She did not have to worry about dying; she just sat back and tried to collect as many star-bits as possible. Boom Blox, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. We tried to play the co-op mode together, but it ended up being very stressful due to the twitchy, tense nature of the game. (I still refer to Boom Blox as “the game that almost killed our relationship.”) Stick to fun, simpler games like WarioWare and Mario Party; avoid trickier stuff like fighters and games with co-op modes where their experience should be commensurate with yours.
5. The Wii is Your Friend. This may sound like a blatant plug, and in a way it is: The Wii is a great way to introduce your non-gamer significant other to gaming. This should not really come as a surprise, since casual and non-gamers are the main target demographic for the Wii. At any rate, the Wii has developed a pretty large selection of games that can appeal to people who have never picked up a controller in their lives. Hardcore gamers out there may be offended at the idea of starting someone on such trifles as Wii Play and the like, but just consider it a gateway drug; hopefully it will be the key to harder stuff later on.
6. Your Girl Comes First, Not the Games. If you’ve found a girl that is open to your hobby and has started to share it (or even if she hasn’t), that does not give you cart blanche to play games around her non-stop and not engage her. Part of what makes sharing games special is the fact that she gets to spend time with you, but if all that time is spent with games, it may start to appear that you care more about them than you do her. I’ve been guilty of violating this rule a number of times, so trust me when I say the consequences can be…unpleasant.
7. Openness is a Two-Way Street. If your girl is going to try videogames, you have to be willing to try out some of her interests. This includes watching certain TV shows she enjoys, trying out things she suggests, and generally being receptive to what she says. This is another fundamental for a good relationship, but it bears repeating. You cannot expect her to try things for you if you aren’t willing to return the favor.
There you have it: my formula for creating a gamer girlfriend. I’ll let you decide how effective it is, but I think the past year of this column speaks for itself. So now that you know how, I urge everyone reading to go out there and find someone special to turn into a gamer. And if anyone is thinking about saving themselves some trouble and poaching mine, think again. Vangie tends to get violent when the idea of someone coming between us is brought up.