Man we live wonderful times, so many advances in technology, medicine, and in entertainment as well. Never before we had so many games on our reach. I'm not talking only emulators, but also online services like Steam, PSN, Live and so on, and all the amazing things you can find on it. More than ever, developers are trying new things, primarily in the indie scene, but the giants of the industry as well. Together, they brought amazing things like Jouney, FTL, Minecraft, Gone Home, just to name a few. And look at them,lots of different ideas and concepts. It's just a good time to be a gamer. And to bring people aboard the train as well!
It's very likely that our fist contact with games was thanks to someone that introduced us. So, why not do the same to other people? After all, it's only natural for us as humans to want to share with others the things that we love. And in my quest to introduce family and friends to embrace our medium, i faced all kinds of situations. And what have i learned from all of that?
First: Get rid of steryotypes!
Your top priority. Seriously, it's just amazing the number of people out there who still think games are stupid, violent, turn kids into a murderer, it's a child's toy, the list goes on and on. You'll have to find a way around this, to get that thought out of their minds, otherwise it WILL be impossible for them to find any kind of joy form games. If for some reason you find yourself unable to past this point, don't even try to push forward, it will probably make people mad at you. Now, with that clear, how do we get around this (big) issue? It depends. Is the person a rational and open mind type? If yes, try to show the benefits of gaming, like improving your reflexes, creativity and logical thinking. If it's a religious type that believes that games are the mouth of Satan and want to control the peoples minds (i actually heard that one), then you are screwed, for this is the worst scenario.
You see, when Doom came out (and eventually became more installed than the freaking Windows!), the church had in it's hands the perfect argument that games are, and i quote "a shit load of satanic garbage into our children s minds". Not that i can blame them, after all Doom is about kicking demonic asses back to hell, but that concept really stayed with them. And to get around this, you'll have to show them the other side of gaming. How? Keep reading.
Tell them a story...
Still reading? Really? Awesome! So, given my circumstances, this was definitely one of the best strategies. I don't think i need to tell anyone who already play games that our medium has what got to be the best way to tell a narrative, after all, games are a interactive experience. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Persona, all of these games tell rich tales. But they are complex for newcomers, so that's not the right place to start. Instead, my friends journey started on one of my favorite histories: To The Moon.
Sure you heard of it (or maybe not, but if you haven't, i seriously recommend it. Go play it and then return to this article. Don't worry, i'll wait). Mechanically, it's the very basic: You walk and explore the environment in a isometric perspective, similar to Final Fantasy, but here there's no combat, leveling up, or HP bars. This is a plot driven game, and by far one of the best ones i ever had the pleasure of knowing, and it's a very human story, making it easier to relate and care to the characters. The plot follows two doctors, Rosalina and Neils, who are trying to give a old man named John his last wish: A trip to the moon. They do it by using a device to alter his memory, and create a simulated life. But John don't know why he wants to go to the moon, and as the player travels through his memory backwards, everything will be revealed. It's a wonderful story, very emotional and that begins and ends on itself, no loose ends. Go check it out. Honorable mentions to "Thomas Was Alone" and "Braid", two very creative puzzle plataformers, the already mentioned Journey; another great plataformer; and the so called "walking simulators" such as The Vanish of Ethan Carter, Dear Esther, and the already mentioned Gone Home, but i would save those to when you friend is more familiar with games, and also if he/she enjoys a good mystery.
Games make you smarter
This is one of my favorite arguments, and everyone likes to fell smart, and get smarter. And almost every game makes you smarter, some more than others; but there are those who are make specifically to brain tease you (or make you fell like that). The point and click adventure is full of those, with the bonus of having a nice story too. My personal favorites are Telltale's TWD and Full Throttle, but don't forget other classics like Monkey Island series, or if you would like something new, try Machinarium or Broken Age.
Now if it's a puzzle in a more straightforward way, try the Professor Layton Series (you knew that one was coming). Excellent puzzles with a mystery plot and a simple gameplay (in fact, it reminds me of a point and click); Phoenix Wright, a fusion well executed of Visual Novel and Puzzle, with a simple gameplay, excellent plot, and lovable characters, there's no way you could go wrong with this one. There's far too many examples, but i decided to put here just the ones that i used.
There's still so much more!
Now, i could keep writing (and to be honest, that was the plan), but by now you should have already figured out that the right way is to show something appealing to the person you are presenting to games, and from there, let they chose what they like or don't. However, as fun as it can be to finally convince your mom to embark on a Super Mario World adventure, we as gamers should not relax just yet.
You see, the purpose of my quest was to make as many people as i could to play games. And i realized in the process that is not that simple, there's always gonna be people that simply don't enjoy it. Then, i saw that i was aiming for the wrong goal. I shouldn't be trying to make those people play games, if they like what they saw that should be the natural course, no. I changed my approach.
You must have noticed that all the games on this article have at least one of those features: they have a good (if not fantastic) story, a distinct visual identity or a gameplay/presentation out of the usual. That's because my main goal was to change the idea of games that was on their minds, to give them a new perspective, to show just how far we evolved from the children's toy concept that was given to games so many years ago. And i believe that i succeeded. Maybe they won't go right away to their computers to play a game, but i'm confident that the next time they see someone playing say, a Call of Duty match, they will remember that games are so much more than just shooting everything that moves, that our medium can tell amazing tales, create fantastic worlds, and teach us about the real world and a maybe a little bit more about ourselves. There's a infinity of games out there that prove my point. And i'm sure that i haven't found them all, and more importantly, that i haven't show them all to my friends. And that motivates me to keep going, to defend the medium that i love so much. And i know it will all be worth it.
And i haven't gave up on the people who refused my invitation to gaming. I just haven't found the thing that will hook them. I'll keep looking, after all, there's a game for everyone.
Since this is my first post, i suppose i should talk a little bit about myself. I'm Jordan "GentleGamer", i grow up surrounded by PC games, all thanks to my old man. From Starcraft to Red Alert, Giants, Soul Reaver, Half-Life, Diablo and so many more, i played them all. I game primarily on PC, but i own a PS3 as well, but i play whatever i want whenever i can. Big fan of RTS (but i suck at them), and a sucker for a well crafted tale. Hope you guys had enjoyed what i hope to be the first of many posts. See you guys next time! Peace Out!
PS: Please forgive any grammar errors. English is not my native language. I do my best to get all typos, but i'm still human.