How to Share a Love of Video Game Culture

  I'm so happy to say we live in a day and age where the gaming subculture is well accepted! Now we can have fancy parties.

Recently one of my very close gaming buddies entered a new relationship with a girl who doesn't really game much. For my buddy this doesn't make or break the relationship, not even close, but it did start a dialogue with me about how to help introduce such a prominent hobby in his life to someone close to him. It's really important to note that times are a lot different from when we were kids when it comes to the gaming subculture. A comprehensive poll done by Big Fish states that 50% of all males play video games and 48% of all females play games, averaging 49% of all adults.  However only 10% of adults will openly label themselves as "gamers."  This brings up an interesting question in how a gamer can reach out to the casual to non-gamer and bridge that gap.

After much conversation I've compiled a list of tips for helping to introduce the gaming subculture or helping to deepen the pool of a significant other, sibling, parents, etc! I don't really believe all people are capable of grinding MMOs for hours a day or taking on the challenge of Dark Souls or even casually playing a MOBA, but I do believe if gaming is important to you, the people close to you will be willing to give some stuff a try and something might stick.

Start Casual
Not all video games need to be highly competitive, require insane reflexes or be massive time sinks. Unfortunately those are attributes of some of the most popular ones. If you're trying to introduce somebody to gaming try thinking on a very casual scale to start. Nintendo consoles really strike a chord when it comes to the casual side of gaming, especially thanks to their energetic movement games like Wii Sports and 1,2 Switch. Super Mario Maker is a game I've seen have great success right here in the shop as a way for gamers to connect with non-gaming parents or siblings and even couples thanks to the ability to use your imagination to create some silly and action packed stages. There are also platforming games like Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon and even Crash Bandicoot that come off as super casual thanks to how simple everything is, but are great starting points to the imaginative media gaming offers. I'm excited to say this summer we will have some retro titles available right here at LAN Mob when we add in our new retro station! I think people's ideas of what "casual gaming" is can be drastically different (I play League of Legends casually), but consider what would be best for the gateway player by asking what they have played/liked and go from there.

Say what you will about Nintendo's design choices, but you must admit they really know how to make a casual gaming experience. My elderly father used to play Wii Baseball with me!

One of my favorite sub-genres of gaming, gateway or not! I wrote a blog a while back chronicling a top 10 couch-coop titles and I would seriously suggest every single one to your gateway player and you. Games like Champions of Norrath, Jamestown and even Overcooked can be pretty difficult but a lot of that difficulty and hesitation to play can be wavered for the newer player simply because they are playing the game with friends or YOU. Since these games are cooperative, the team's victory is everyone's victory, and that can make for a much funner experience for a player who doesn't really know everything going on. I can't even begin to count the amount of times my friend group has dragged nearby friends and "non-gamers" into all sorts of titles and they had a blast.

Party Games
Even though some party games go against the fun cooperative nature and the benefits they offer for newer players, (some have a distinct winner and distinct losers) the right party game can really be engrossing. Games like Mario Party, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero etc, etc offer some casual fun in a group of friends, even if you aren't some elite Guitar Hero player!

Gang Beasts is a fantastic example of a perfect party game. The game is ridiculous enough where you can't really get upset at losing, and you just want to keep playing to get revenge. 

 Up to this point, this all may seem a little obvious, and I don't disagree. If you're going to introduce someone to a hobby you love deeply, it's clearly best to start off small. Whether your attempted convertee plays select games, no games or even exclusively mobile games (which is becoming a common trend according to Big Fish), I believe the above attack plan will work out! I don't offer a money back guarantee though...Time to think outside the box a bit! 

Your Favorites
I'll tell you right now, this won't always work. However, I still think there's an immeasurable amount of value in handing somebody your absolute favorite book, movie or in this case, video game and saying, "This is my absolute favorite video game experience." In the case of my close gaming buddy, his very favorite game series is Dark Souls. That's the definition of not accessible for somebody who doesn't play a lot of games. (I'd still recommend it...) However, if somebody has been dabbling a bit in different games and titles and your absolutely favorite game of all time is less difficult, the newer player may take your suggestion seriously and open a whole new world of gaming for them. I once got my elderly father to play Ape Escape because I told him it was my favorite game! I even got Slooze to commit to Persona 3 for a bit before he moved away from home, just by saying it was one of my very favorites! I think people consider your strong opinions a bit when choosing games to commit too. Dictator's strong love of the Mass Effect series makes me feel guilty for never playing it.  

Tabletop Gaming
I've been playing tabletop games for quite a long time and sometimes I prefer it way more than video games to be honest. There's all sorts of tabletop games ranging from the well known simple favorites like Sorry, Life and Monopoly to even a bit more complicated classics like Risk and Catan. You can even find games of immense depth like Twilight Imperium 3 and Empire of the Sun which take hours and hours to complete. Tabletop gaming and video games share a lot of gameplay mechanisms, like puzzle solving, planning ahead and general tactics. They can even share the same imaginative and creative themes. Much like the world of video games, there's a plethora of choices and options when it comes to tabletop gaming and I guarantee you can find something for everybody.

One of my playgroup's favorite games, King of Tokyo, has players battling it out to see who the best monster in Tokyo is. King of Tokyo takes about 5 minutes to learn to play and each game can last about half an hour.

One of my personal favorite board games, "Tokaido" was recently given a "digital adaptation", which further proves the point that these hobbies are very similar.

I see a lot of "gateway gaming" around the shop, whether it be parents attempting to play some games with their children, brothers and sisters introducing their younger sibling to Minecraft or in my gaming buddies' case, bringing your girlfriend/boyfriend to LAN Mob to just try some new stuff out! There's something for everyone in this fantastic media, no matter what level you would consider yourself engrossed. I think when people try stuff out they can be surprised at how fun some games can be, even if they don't seem particularly accessible, and especially when they find one that clicks. I'm happy to say LAN Mob is a place where we can help bridge that gap.  
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