I've been trying to work on another of my random rants about gender in nerd circles, but technical difficulties and a weird weekend have distracted me. I wanted to make sure I had something up for this happy day of love when Mystic and I will hopefully be enjoying the Mass Effect 3 demo that is supposed to be out today. The two of us, like a lot of couples, don't feel the need to go out to dinner or get each other expensive gifts.
One thing we have always done together is video games. Right around the time this blog was started was around the time I finally started getting back into video games. They were a past time that a lot of friends enjoyed, so I would watch them play and I got sucked into the world. And then Mystic introduced me to PC gaming and I was sold. It was nice to finally have the ability to hit what I was trying to shoot at.
But many of us who are into video games are dating someone who does not like them as much. How do you introduce them to the gaming world that many people consider a singular experience? Surprisingly, finding a date game isn't that hard. Here are a few games that actually are great to play together.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
This is a great pick if your significant other wants to try video games but isn't sure where to start. Have the more adept platformer jump around as Mario, and have the other be the star. You would not believe how helpful that star it. Killing enemies, holding platforms still, collecting all the star pieces you missed--it is such an improvement to the gameplay experience. And all you have to do is point your Wiimote!
If your partner is willing to try something a bit more hardcore, Borderlands can be a great start. If you pick the right character, you don't have to be that good at shooting to kill all the ruffians you come across, and there is a lot of humor that non-gamers can appreciate. On top of that all the DLC can help you focus on the funny stories or just shooting the hell out of bad guys.
Mass Effect Series
The genre was made to be played with at least two people. The Wii has been bringing back the genre a little bit, but sometimes just going to an arcade and reeking havoc onto some random terrorist (which is half of the plots for arcade rail shooters) is great fun. This is good if your significant other is willing to try something that is easy to learn but hard to master. Mystic and I will do these from time to time, and will still waste tons of change on it.
If you're a couple into a little bit of healthy competition, it's not actually a bad thing. Beating each other isn't violent, it's a time trial, so it's more about skill and focusing on your screen than "Haha I got you!". Also, a lot of racing games have a mode that is less on racing and more on ridiculous goals like crashing cars, which is great if you want to play with someone who doesn't have the speed skills you may have.
Additionally, here are some games that do not bode well for a date night.
Real Time Strategies
RTSs in general are very hard to get into if you're a non gamer, so not a great first introduction to the hobby. Even if the two of you are avid gamers, the kind of thinking one uses for an RTS is very strategic and economical, not the kind of thinking that fosters togetherness. Although the two of you may be successful preventing a Protos invasions, it's not going to make the two of you think you make a great couple, just great generals.
"Typical" First Person Shooters (i.e. Call of Duty, Halo, etc.)
These are great games to play with friends that don't mind the competition, but solely with your spouse or who you're dating, and it can quickly become a one on one battle to the death. Unless you can team up against bots, the potential for frustration at trying to shoot each other can grow a little to easily, and spill over out of the game and between the two of you.
Massive Multiplayer Online Games
It's not that these games are a bad thing to play with a significant other, but they're bad date games. Any game that reminds you about the downsides of anonymity on the internet is not going to be a great place to bond with your sweetie.
For those of you who play Skyrim, you understand. For those of you who don't play Skyrim, imagine the frustration of dating someone addicted to an opiate, and now imagine that transferred from your loved one's computer monitor into their brain. It's that addictive, and although it's a great game to watch, it typically will not be an experience that will bring you closer together.
Of course every couple is special like a snowflake, so these suggestions may not ring true for you and your honey. However, if you want to get a general idea on where to start, I think the first games mentioned are great if you want to avoid crowded restaurants and overpriced chocolate today.