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Couples gaming: getting started

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Couples gaming

There are many gamers out there, admittedly mostly male, who dream of sharing their passion with their significant other.

They dream of intense capture-the-flag sessions, where each partner has the other one’s back. They envision themselves as an unstoppable Arena team – a Paladin and a Druid perhaps – kicking ass in Azeroth. And they see themselves slaughtering zombies side by side during a Left For Dead co-op session.

There are many gateway drugs to gaming, from Popcap puzzles to cutesy Nintendo DS titles, to perennial “party” favourites like SingStar and Guitar Hero. The truth though is that one of the most effective ways to convert your girlfriend to the Great Gaming Faith is to play together. You may be surprised to discover that most of your partner’s previous animosity, or disinterest, towards your favourite pastime stems from her feeling ignored while you stare for hours at pixelated guns and gals.

Of course, suddenly including your girlfriend in your gaming activities doesn’t mean you should drop her straight into a brutal Halo multiplayer battle to be sworn at, corpse camped and tea bagged. Also, and this is most important, resist those prankster urges to flatten her character – especially if she’s on your team – with your favourite armoured vehicle. I speak from personal experience when I say that such behaviour is not conducive to happy coupledom.

Couples gaming requires carefully thought. Particularly in regards to the type of game you’ll be playing.

If your partner is a gaming newcomer, it may be a good idea to avoid fiercely competitive, testosterone-soaked games at the beginning of your shared experience. If you do feel the urge to let rip with the rivalry, pick a title that tempers the contest with humour – such as Boom Blox for the Wii.

At the same time, accessibility is important when it comes to couples gaming. Your significant other shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or confused. This means StarCraft II and other complex real-time strategy games should be avoided… at least until your partner’s gaming confidence grows.

To start with then, collaborative (or co-op) multiplayer is the best way to share a gaming experience with your girlfriend. Many games, from kiddie-friendly platformers to hardcore first person shooters and musical “party” titles, offer a co-op mode. My personal recommendation is one of the LEGO titles – whether it be Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones or Harry Potter. Simple to play, gender neutral, and not too frantically paced, these games still offer a challenge, and plenty of irreverent laughs.

And if your partner remains game-phobic and refuses to touch a controller, you’re still not without shared gaming options. Although not multiplayer in the tradition sense, adventure games are ideal couples fare – if you’re up for the mental challenge! How well the genre works for you as a couple though will really depend on your tolerance for the inevitable trial-and-error puzzle solving required. You know, the typical bizarre logic of “use bowling ball with cheese grater,” “use bowling ball with goldfish,” ”use bowling ball with foot.”

In the end, when it comes to couples gaming you want to keep it light, simple and undemanding – at least in the beginning. Good luck, and happy gaming!

Last Updated: October 7, 2010

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