We all have someone who we wish played games with us.
Maybe they’re skeptical, or afraid, or just ambivalent, but for whatever reason
it’s difficult to get them interested in our favorite hobby. Here are ten games
that are not only great in their own right, but that I have seen my non-gaming
friends lose hours of their lives to.
Whether we are avid sports fans, or only ever catch a
game when its broadcast on a ring of televisions surrounding us at a restaurant,
most of us know that baseball involves swinging the bat at the ball. Wii
Sports handles all of the rules we never bothered to learn growing up and
says “Here, swing this remote around until you’re having fun.” Gamer, sports fan, parent, spouse, whatever you might
label yourself as, chances are that it won’t take more than a minute of
swinging a remote around your living room before you’re determined to prove
you’re the best at it. Competition brings people together...mostly so that they
can throw fits and call each other cheaters, but it’s a start.
The real hook of all those LEGO games is the combination
of simplicity and pop culture. Whoever you might want to induct into the gaming
cult, chances are the LEGO series has a game for them. Choose whichever movie
or comic franchise your target enjoys the most and have at it. People love being rewarded, and just about everything
you do in a LEGO game rewards you with a fountain of colorful LEGO bricks. And
when your friend is being a nuisance, or if you’re just “that guy”, you can
always push them into some lava or, if you’re really mean, make them play as
Jar Jar (or Robin).
Everyone loves Batman. Even Marvel fans love Batman.
He’s moody and dark and there’s something tragically broken about him. Arkham
City not only captures the caped crusader thematically, it’s also one of
the most fun games out there. The game has a steady drip of unlockables,
perfect for someone who might not be familiar with video games as a whole.
While you start out with next to nothing, the game
continues to feed you new content periodically, giving you enough time with
each new addition to keep your from being overwhelmed. This makes it one of the
easiest, and most fun, games for non-gamers to pick up and engross themselves
in. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the best games on the market.
It’s easy to convince newcomers to play Skyrim.
For starters, media for the game is all over the place. People outside of the
gaming culture knowSkyrim, whether they’ve played it or not.
Getting them to sit down and play the game is just a matter of name-dropping.
Getting the controller out of their hands after they’ve killed their first
dragon? Almost impossible.
Escapism is the key to good entertainment, and nothing
says escapism like creating an entirely new person to go explore a massive
world you’ve never set foot in. While other games are about experiencing
someone else’s story, Skyrim is about making your own. No matter what
you’re doing in Skyrim, you’re doing it your way, and that hooks
Smash Bros. Brawl
Gamer or not, chances are you’ve played a Mario game
before. He’s the drugged out plumber we all grew up with. Unless you were that
kid that had a Sega, then you’re likely more familiar with Sonic who, for some
reason, is faster than any hedgehog has a right to be. Whatever side you might
have fallen on, if you grew up in the ‘90’s, you wanted to see these two
fight. And now you can. Mario and Sonic are going to be the big headliners, but
really the gang’s all here. While characters like Fire Emblem: Path of
Radiance’s Ike might not be familiar to the less devoted gamer, there’s a
Pokemon, plumbers, and tactical espionage action-heroes for everyone. Not to
mention Kirby. It’s rude to look a gift Kirby in the mouth.
Why Mario Kart over Brawl? Aren’t they of
a similar premise? Yes. Both have a large roster of familiar faces and a
competitive attitude as likely to ruin friendships as it is to create them.
However, Mario Kart is the easier sell, because it’s not as focused on
beating eachother up. Sure there are shells to throw and traps to lay, but in
the end, your real goal is the finish line, not karma. Many non-gamers avoid video games because they think
they’re all about violence. And when it comes to the majority of games, they’re
right. You can sit down and play Mario Kart with your friends, without
feeling like you’ve just entered Thunder Dome and only one of you will get out
alive. Or at least you can convince them that’s the case and as soon as they’re
hooked, show them the spikes of your blue shell.
There’s a reason that themeparks pay people to dress up
and chase their guests around with chainsaws on Halloween. Fear is exciting. I
personally have no idea why (I was afraid of Sesame Street as a kid...Because
it’s a show hosted by monsters!), but fear brings us together. Dead Space combines a masterful feeling of dread
and desperation, with just enough hope to make it difficult to put down. Sure,
you want to drop the controller and run, but are you really going to leave
Isaac to fend for himself? When he can’t move on his own? You’d be twice the
monster Big Bird is.
Similar to Skyrim, Portal2 is
everywhere. And for good reason. More than competition or fear, humor is
something we all love to share. The writers at Valve know how to make you
laugh, and when someone makes you laugh, it makes you feel accepted. Like
you’re part of something together. You can also make an infinitely repeating
slide and people love slides.
The mechanics of Portal 2 are slightly more
advanced than its predecessor, but just like Arkham City, the game takes
you through all its bells and whistles step-by-step with a gradual incline to
keep you feeling comfortable, without getting bored. The puzzles can be
challenging, but I’ve never known anything quite so addictive as a good puzzle.
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is a
choose-your-own-adventure book for adults. The zombie apocalypse is something
we all dream about: a chance to prove to ourselves and others that we have the
gusto to survive a hellish situation. Of course, things become a lot more
complicated when you take into account the survival of everyone you care about.
And you will care about The Walking Dead’s cast. The Walking Dead has the pace and structure of a
good book. The kind people, gamer or not, will stay up until four in the
morning reading. Even more addicting is the fact that you’re changing directing
the story with your choices. It’s a wonderful introduction to the big narrative
RPGs for people who might never have killed so much as a goblin.
There is no game as hardcore, or as casual, as Minecraft.
It is what you make of it, in more ways than one. Some people will scoff when
you first show them the game, but introduce them to the giant tribute to 12th
century Italian gothic architecture you’ve constructed from months of blood,
sweat, tears, and blocks and they will suddenly want to experience this goliath
for themselves. Minecraft is a sandbox game in the most genuine
sense. The world is not just your’s to explore, but your’s to create and even
more than Skyrim, it’s all about you. From a homeless guy digging holes
in the earth to hide from a night of Sesame Street horrors, to the ruler of a
vast empire of sprawling cities and sky-scraping towers, Minecraft gives
you a blank slate and promises to get out of the way of your ambitions. It
calls to the egomaniac in all of us.
Have you hooked any of your non-gamer friends on a game
lately? What games would you add to this list? What are your favorite games to
play with your family and friends?
Share in the comments below. Article by Jeff Ellis ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
freelance writer and game reviewer with a year's experience working in the game
industry. I've been playing games longer than I've been able to read. In fact,
I learned how to read by watching my brother play JRPGs on our Nintendo. I also
learned geography from Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. Facts that I probably
shouldn't be proud of, but I am. You can read more of my writing over atFirst Word Problems and
keep updated on the site and me via Twitter @1stwordproblems. All Articles by Jeff.