Random Babblings: How to Get Your Woman to Game

Random Babblings: How to Get Your Woman to Game

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 2/20/2004 for
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So I was playing video games the other day when I came to a startling revelation, my girlfriend plays video games. And she doesn’t just play them in a “aww look at her mash the buttons” sort of way either. She’s precise, calculated and damn good at what she does. Only after sending her endless care packages filled with video games did I realize that I was, in fact, dating a female gamer, and a good one at that.

All of the signs were there but for some reason I didn’t notice them at first. The time she asked me to send her a copy of Guilty Gear X2, that time that I let her play Tony Hawk 3 and then she proceeded to steal my copies of Tony Hawk 4 and Tony Hawk’s Underground in the following years. That look that she got in her eyes when she beat me for the first time in Dark Stalkers and that damn irresistible giggle that she’d bust out when I “let her beat me” in that game of Puzzle Fighter. Then I came to another realization, there’s a whole world of gaming out there for women. Not just those simple puzzle games or games with cutesy characters. Women are coming into their own in the gaming world and I’m here to educate a few of you about this rapidly increasing scene.

Sure all those signs were there in the past but I think I finally had an epiphany when I asked my girlfriend if she wanted me to send her Nightshade after I finished up my review. I had told her that the game didn’t really appeal to me all that much and that I could just dispose of it afterwards instead of pawning it off on to her.

Her response? “Honey, send it to me! You know how I love games where girls get to kick ass!”

Up that point I had only really seen my girlfriend as a mainstream female gamer who bit on all of the more feminine games. She constantly schools me at Tetrinet and Puzzle Fighter but that’s just by design (Trust me guys, there’s no way in hell to defeat an Asian girl at a puzzle game. It’s like ingrained in their DNA from the moment that they’re born.) and she’s just an absolute Dance Dance Revolution fiend. Then I started thinking back to her library; she has games like Darkstalkers, Legend of Legaia, Star Ocean, Chrono Cross and Bloody Roar in her library. I had been so blind; female gamers aren’t an entirely different category of gamers who are here to be patronized. They have the potential to be as proficient as we males are, and in some circumstances, and can actually become more adept than us.

Fret not though because this isn’t such a bad thing for the couple that plays together stays together. As hardcore gamers you probably all know just how difficult it is to get your girlfriend to understand how addictive video games can be. Have you ever told your girlfriend about how you and your friends just spent and a whole weekend playing Battlefield 1942 and only to have her shun you away out of disappointment? See the problem here is that although there is a large contingent of female gamers out there, an even larger number of them don’t understand the appeal of video games. All that you really need to do though is to open up the door and give them a little hint of what makes them so addictive, what makes them so appealing and what makes you choose them on a Saturday night instead of a hot date.

That’s why we’re developing this guide for all of you men out there as a means to bring your women into the gaming scene. Unfortunately not all of us on the planet are as lucky as Bart and have developed women repellant in their genes. It’s not an easy process but a number of advancements in recent years have made gaming much easier for women to stomach.
Let’s face it, women have much smaller hands than your average men (unless you’re John Yan, he’s got an incredibly small- err never mind) and since most gamers are men the controllers are designed with them in mind. Don’t try to get your woman into HALO by throwing that massive Xbox standard controller at her, but at the same time don’t patronize her. You have to take her feelings into account in this situation. Sure, you may have become accustomed to your one and only Xbox S controller but relinquishing control of your gamepad does a number of things. First it shows your care for her as you’re willing to sacrifice your favorite piece of equipment, probably a sacrifice you’re not willing to make for your other buddies. It also makes gaming much easier for her to begin with. People often assess whether or not they’ll enjoy something by referring back to their first memory. So let’s say you’re a dumbass and you do give her the big Xbox controller. In short time her arms may tire, she may not be able to function the triggers properly or the face buttons might stick on her. You’ve already ruined the experience for her and she might not want to go back. Try your best to accommodate her and you’ll have her killing those bastards in no time.

Looks like my girlfriend approves of the Dual Shock 2.

In fact you might even want to pick up a controller to specifically cater to your woman. If she has really tiny hands then you shouldn't hesitate to pick up Madcatz' MicroCon controllers (available on all three platforms). Maybe she has abnormally sweaty hands, then pick up Nyko's Airflow controller to make her a little more confident in her gaming. If anything picking up a controller that's specifically for her could do nothing but put you in her good graces.

What Not to Do: Remember, catering to her comfort level is of paramount concern here. You can’t treat her like another one of your buddies in this scenario. Women love it when their men are willing to make sacrifices for them so it’s no coincidence that it’s a huge factor in this situation too. Give up that WaveBird and opt for the corded controller, don’t stick her with a second rate controller that will cripple the experience. I know a buddy who stuck his girlfriend with one of those god-awful Radica Clashpads that have to be some of the worst controllers on the face of the planet. And that moron wonders why his girlfriend refuses to play video games with him anymore.
I can’t stress this enough but like with any other newcomer, you have to ease your girlfriend into the scene. Don’t toss that copy of Steel Batallion her way and expect her to understand the inner workings of a 10 story tall mech right away. Shooters are a very bad place to start out with because of the require dual analog control. Instead you should choose a game that requires the analog stick but not in a massive capacity. Let’s think, what uses the analog sticks but doesn’t require too much precision? How about a good platformer? Nothing too recent because the learning curve on those are a bit too steep for newbies. One that really stands out on my mind is ICO for the PS2. It’s a beautiful game with a compelling story that will keep her interested and the gameplay to match. If you own a GameCube Super Mario Sunshine is an excellent choice while Blinx is an excellent purchase for the Xbox crowd.

When in doubt pick a game that caters to your girlfriend's natural desire to be entertainined by bright and shiny objects.

As cliche as this may sound puzzle games are an excellent way of breaking your girl into video games. They're fun, addictive and most of them are insanely cute. I know guys, most of them probably aren't your cup of tea but there's no easier way to ease a girl into the scene. Mainly because most of them operate on the premise of logistic reasoning. I think she can understand the concept of lining up three like-colored objects as the key to success. Simple games for this are Puzzle Fighter, Puzzle Bobble and Bejeweled.

What Not to Do: Don’t make her play a complex game that has a significant learning curve. I have a moron of a buddy who made his girlfriend play Stuntman for hours on end. Hell, even I have a hard time playing that game sometimes. There’s no way in hell that a novice can jump in and expect to have fun with a game like that. Do that and you can kiss all of your gradeur delusions of spending 20+ hours playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chonicles with her goodbye.
With the new mainstream crossovers in videogaming and popular culture it probably shouldn’t be too difficult to find something that your girlfriend can associate with. Find something out there that she like. Is she a tennis fiend? Then pick up that copy of Top Spin so that you can both enjoy it. Sure, EA doesn’t make a Dawson’s Creek video game but Konami does make a karaoke game. Everyone loves to sing and she’ll be begging you to play it just so that you can serenade her time after time. After then it’s only a matter of time until she gets curious and will want to steal the headset from you for a little bit of Britney Spears’ impersonating. When all else fails pick up a copy of Dance Dance Revolution for her to play. You've seen the babes crowd around it at the Arcades and they'll bring that unexplicable attraction to the home game as well. It's also a very physical game that will encourage you to get up off of the couch to participate. As an added bonus she'll have a new workout device too so you can always invite her over for a game whenever she's feeling out of shape. Sure beats the hell out of sitting around alone on a Saturday night while your girl heads to the gym.

Yes, the music is crap. But at least I get to watch my girl bounce up and down.

After you ease her in with something that she can relate to find some other games that appeal to her tastes. My girlfriend is a huge fan of Japanese super chibby deformed characters so I decided to let her borrow my GameCube and a copy of Animal Crossing. After a few hours of gameplay she was begging for me to buy her some Animal Crossing cards so that she could unlock newer and better items in the game. If you don’t have a GameCube you could easily replicate the same scenario with a copy of The Sims or its sequel The Sims Bustin’ Out. Not only will she be playing a game that doesn’t require lighting quick reflexes, it’ll help ease her into the gamer’s mentaility while familiarizing her with the layout of the controller. From there you’ll be able to move her onto the move advanced levels of gaming.

What Not to Do: Don’t, and I repeat this, don’t ease your girlfriend into the gaming scene with a racing game. As simple and appealing as this sounds the racing scene has come quite a long way in recent years. Most of the vehicles handle realistically and the learning curve in a game like Project Gotham 2 or even Need For Speed: Underground is difficult for newbies to handle. As you watch your girlfriend plow into wall after endless wall you’ll start to become frustrated and will want to take over to show her how it’s done. However, in doing so you’re coming off as an impatient jerk who can’t handle a little bit of failure.

This might not be so obvious to some, but when starting in gaming you need to choose games that give the player time to think and react. For this I’d recommend an RPG, albeit a short one that’s not too big on depth. Since she’s learned a bit about gaming from the low-level games like the Sims she’ll have a better understanding of how the system and gameplay functions. With a little bit of guidance on your part on how to level up characters, utilize spells properly and how to play the game she can easily become proficient in the RPG realm. Great games to ease her in with are Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts (because let’s face it, everyone can relate to Disney) and Dark Cloud 2.

Yea, you try to explain to her that Dark Cloud isn't actually Zelda in disguise.

If you want something that you can both play at the same time I’d recommend a good button masher like Super Smash Bros. Melee. Its basic premise is built upon the foundation of frantic mashing but there’s enough strategy and depth here for you to not be bored out of your head. Plus the cute chracters in the game will probably be a big hit with your girlfriend as well. Again you’re familiarizing her with the controller while gradually building up her reaction time. What’s even better is that you’re having a great time with her as well and you’re not just bored out of your head. If you have an Xbox you should pick up Kung Fu Chaos.

What Not to Do: DON’T try to get her into sports games yet. It sounds like a good idea but in today’s sports games it’s kind of a waste of time to play meaningless games. If you’re investing more time into Madden 2004 you’ll probably want to make it worthwhile so you’ll probably try to get your girlfriend to jump into the franchise mode with you. If you’re like me you’re probably very anal when it comes to things like records and statistics. Since the majority of your girlfriends probably don’t know anything about games there’s a good chance that you’ll hand off to her on the first play of the game and she’ll take Priest Holmes for a 15-yard loss. What happens next is that you get frustrated because she just threw him off his 2,000+ yard course. Then you get upset, she doesn’t want to play anymore and you’ve ruined your chances. Remember, this sceneario can easily be place into the hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer realms as well. Also remember that this doesn't apply to all fighting games and RPGs across the board. Don't be a fool and start her off with an impossible RPG like UNLIMITED Saga.
I’m not sure what it is but gamers are a highly selfish breed. There’s an air of perfection that surrounds every single endeavor and one blemish could set all that hardwork into a downward plummet. Novice gamers tend to not understand just how difficult it is to finally defeat Ultima weapon in Final Fantasy VII and most won’t certainly understand how difficult it is to come across an important summon like Knights of the Round. However, they’ll want to feel like their place in your life is secure, gaming included. That’s why you need to go out of your way to include them in your gaming experience, to let them know that their presence still remains even when they’re not around. This is actually much simpler to do than it seems; all you really have to do is to find a way to include her into your gaming. In RPGs it’s as simple as naming the female lead after her; in sports games it’s as easy as making a player and putting her on your roster.

Ahh!! She's marking her territory!

It’s a rarity that you’ll actually let your friends come over and save create-a-players on your memory card so give her that privilege. If you’ve already gotten her on the path towards THUG then go all the way and let her make her own character. You know how satisfying it is to land off those massive combos with your own virtual persona, let her share that joy with you as well.

What Not to Do: Don’t get mad if she inadvertently saves over your game. Besides, it’s probably your fault that you didn’t take the time to monitor her every move during the process anyway. Also, let her create her own persona. Don’t be a moron and simply cycle through the items and ask her which one she likes the best. Put the controller in her hand and let her make her own character. You gotta remember not to patronize her and babying her like that will only make her feel less powerful than before.
It can be pretty imposing to be thrust into a game world with absolutely no knowledge of how it works. That’s why you should thank the lord that more and more companies are putting multiplayer co-op modes into their games. With co-op not only will you not have to watch and be bored off your ass, you can also demonstrate to her the different facets of the game while she’s playing along. If you’re looking for a good traditional co-op game then there’s none better than Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Plus she’s probably seen the movie once or twice (fifteen times if its James Stevenson’s girlfriend) and she’ll get a kick out of seeing the different side stories and that damn Legoland character in the videogame. If you want something a little more advance go for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or 007: Double or Nothing. With those she’ll applaud you for working together with her as opposed to against her. Look, video games and relationships are like one in the same!

Are you on MMORPG geek? Well let’s say by some modern miracle that you’ve managed to put down that copy of EverQuest long enough to secure yourself a girlfriend. You need to find a way to accommodate her needs while you’re playing. Why don’t you let her create a character of her own so that she can see firsthand why that game is so addictive to you. GN’s own Randy Kalista has been a Final Fantasy XI geek for the past month or so and his girlfriend actually puts up with him. How did he do it? He made her an account so that she could essentially enter his little virtual world. He set her up as one of those annoying little Taru characters and boom, she became more understanding of his need to play. You never know, she might even become hooked and the two of you could venture out together in the online realm.

Remember, winning isn't everything. Play too hard and this is what she'll think of your favorite sports game.

This is also the stage where you want to ease her into sports games. Pick something that she knows the rules to. If she’s a beach bunny then she probably knows a little bit about beach volleyball. If she’s a soccer nut then don’t hesitate to pick up Winning Eleven 7. Personally I started out my girlfriend with Madden 2003 and then moved her up to Madden 2004 and ESPN Basketball. Like earlier it’s all about catering to her tastes so if she hates baseball don’t force her to try ESPN Baseball. Oh, and as tempting as it may sound don’t do too much trash talking in the early stages. Besides, throwing a 99 yard bomb against your girlfriend on her first play of the game isn’t really that much of an accomplishment anyway.

What Not to Do: As enticing as it may seem don’t use “I’m umm… going online with my uhhh female wood elf instead of taking you out to dinner” as an excuse. It’s a surefire way to turn her off and make her absolutely loathe the game for taking her away from you. There’s no nice way to say this but most females (actually… people in general) are attention whores so playing second fiddle to something really bruises her ego. The fact that it’s an inanimate video game makes the pain even harder to digest.So her birthday is coming up and you begin to notice her growing attraction towards your PlayStation 2. Since us men are pretty blind we need a little bit of nudging in order to realize that the attachment is slowly growing. It starts off small; maybe she’ll ask to borrow our console or instead of going out for a movie she’ll want to order in and play a game. Now that the signs are there you need to take the next step towards transforming your woman into a gamer. What’s that? You’ve got an extra $200 laying around? Holy crap, that’s the exact cost of a brand new PlayStation 2.

Think about what this does because the intention of buying her a console may not be readily apparent. To her it’s a sweet gesture that shows how much you care about her; that even when you’re apart she can still game in your absence. To you? Think of the latent functions here. By having her own console it rules out all possibility that she can steal yours away and leave your gameless. And since you already have a ton of games you won’t really need to buy her any games, seeing as how your relationship means that she has mutual rights to your library. Also since she now has a console that means that there are now two perspective buyers in the relationship. It might not happen overnight but if you've done your job she’ll start buying new games and expanding your already massive library. Hell in the past year alone my girlfriend has bought me no less than 10 games which include the likes of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, ESPN Basketball and SSX3. Pretty damn good eh?

Play your cards right and you too can have a girlfriend like this.

What Not to Do: If you’re a broke and jobless bastard who can’t afford a shiny new console for your girlfriend be smart and schedule some visitation rights for it. Don’t be afraid to relinquish control of your system ever once in awhile, but make sure to do it in a strategic fashion. Remember, you still have to be concerned about how it’ll affect your gaming as well. Do you work a 9-5? Then why not let her borrow it on Monday and then pick it back up on Thursday or Friday? That way she’ll get her gaming in while you can spend some quality time with it while you’re winding down and heading towards the weekend.

And that's really all there is to it boys. Just remember that the rest of the rules that apply to relationships are applicable here as well. Use a little bit of common sense when you're deciding how to go about handling things and you'll be well on the road to turning your woman into a hardcore gamer. Like everything else in life you have to ease her into the situation; throwing too much at her will just make her feel overwhelmed and taken aback by it all. Take it nice and slow and who knows, maybe you'll have yourself a brand new gaming partner. If you have any questions or comments make sure to drop me a line and I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability.Beginner level games:
Blinx: The Time Sweeper (Xbox, GN Score: 8.4)
Eye Toy (PS2, GN Score: 7.7)
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (GameCube, GN Score: 8.3)
Chain Reaction (PC, GN Score: 8.7)
Dance Dance Revolution MAX 2 (PS2, GN Score: 7.6)
Karaoke Revolution (PS2, GN Score: 8.6)
The Sims Bustin' Out (PS2, Xbox, GC, GN Score: 8.3)

Intermediate level games:
Kingdom Hearts (PS2, GN Score: 9.7)
Amplitude (PS2, GN Score: 8.6)
Dark Cloud 2 (PS2, GN Score: 9.5)
Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color (PS2, GN Score: 7.8)
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA, GN Score: 9.1)
Tony Hawk's Underground (PS2, XBox, GC, GN Score: 9.4)
Top Spin (Xbox, GN Score: 9.3)
Viewtiful Joe (GameCube, GN Score: 9.4)
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube, GN Score: 9.8)

Advanced level games:
Project Gotham Racing 2 (Xbox, GN Score: 9.3)
Otogi: Myth of Demons (Xbox, GN Score: 9.1)
Jak II (PS2, GN Score: 9.4)
Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack (Xbox, PS2, GN Score: 9.3)
Crimson Skies (Xbox, GN Score: 9.1)
Guilty Gear X2 (PS2, GN Score: 9.2)
Mech Assault (Xbox, GN Score: 9.1)
Metroid Prime (GameCube, GN Score: 9.8)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox, GC, PS2, GN Score: 8.9)

Madcatz Lumicon
MicroCon (PS2, Xbox)

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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