I have a new lady friend in my life. This may not seem particularly significant to you, but it is to me. She and I happen to have eerily similar taste in almost all things. This is especially significant when you consider my rather eccentric and bizarre taste in, well, pretty much everything. But hey, this is the internet and if you are reading this you probably have pretty strange taste in things too.
Anyway, the one thing that we have practically no overlap in is games. I'm talking games in general here, not just the video variety. One of the first games that she mentioned to me was Scrabble. Little back story on myself, word games and I don't get along. Which is very weird considering that I love words and I love games. When you put them together though, my brain turns to mush. I just can't spell words quickly enough or something.
Every time a new word game comes along and everyone goes crazy over it, I think that this will be the word game to finally hook me (Words With Friends being the latest offender). I am always wrong. I however am also very open to new experiences and giving things a second chance, so I have agreed to play word games with her (specifically Boggle and Scrabble) with the understanding that she will always win.
I am also aware that she enjoys D&D quite a bit. I know that this completely destroys any indie nerd cred that I actually have, but I have never played D&D. I know. Shameful. I have always wanted to give it a go, I have just never had a good opportunity to. At the game shop that I went to in High School, the D&D players and the Magic players (which I was one of) were pretty much segregated with only a few people who swung both ways. While we haven't actually talked about it seriously, if she were to ask me, I'm sure that I would say yes to a campaign
Video games are something that this girl has very little experience with. As far as I can gather, her parents did not approve of such things, and since she has left home, the only video game experience she has had has been of the rhythm on plastic instruments variety (you know, Guitar Hero/Rock Band). While those are very good games, they are not exactly representative of the scope of gaming. Since I love video games so much, I figure that it is at least my duty to expose her to the interesting things that are out there.
I know that this is sheer folly. Exposing anyone to a new medium is tricky business, especially one with so many negative stereotypes associated with it. I do feel like I have a few things on my side here though. Like I said above, we practically share a brain when it comes to our tastes overall, so I figure I can at least find some things that she will like. Also, I am not going to go down the road of "here are the games that will get you hooked on gaming even though you have never really played any before". If I were to make that list, it would be boring, and it would not reflect my personal taste in the slightest. I'm am going to pick things that were especially influential on my personal development and that are representative of my personal taste. I feel like this is the most honest way to go about it. If I show her why I love these things, maybe she will see the value in them too.
So, in no particular order, here are 7 ( I really wanted to make it 5, but that just didn't happen) games that I intend to show to her. And by show her I mean make her play them.
Do I really need to explain this one? I think Braid is maybe the single most important game of the past five years. It legitimized indie games to a wider audience and I think it will be remembered with the likes of Mario when the history of video games is written in 100 years.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Speaking of which, Mario 3 is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the 2-d mainline Mario games. Nothing beats taking turns as Mario and Luigi trying to get past the trickier parts of world 5. I literally can play this game blindfolded. When it came out on GBA a few years back, I showed my roommate secrets that he had never seen before, entirely from memory. It is just so much dang fun.
This game is maybe the best designed game of all time. The way it leads you through an open world with only the language of game design is amazing. Every game that tries to copy this formula fails miserably and resorts to weak hand holding measures to make up for bad structure and timing (I'm looking at you Shadow Complex). I play this at least once a year, sometimes more.
World of Goo
Everything that I said about Braid could also be said about World of Goo. The subtle story telling and game mechanics that mesh to tell a story of striving and longing are just as cohesive as Braid's time/memory set up. It has made an entire genre out of building towers (just look at the app store, I count 9 clones, even one form MTV games) and it is just so good. I beat it in one sitting my first time around.
It was really a toss up between this and Shadow of the Colossus, but Ico won out through charm alone. The story is just as melancholy as Shadow, but the feeling of pure desolation is muted. I also feel like it plays a bit smoother, but that could just be my memory. Leading Yorda around by the hand and defending her from shadows is extremely sweet and genuine too.
I have to introduce Japanese crazy sometime, and this is might as well be the game to do that. Besides, the music is kick ass, and it doesn't get much better than rolling up the whole world into a ball.
This is actually the toughest call that I had to make for this list. Portal immediately came to mind for this list, but so did half a dozen others. The reason that Portal gets the go is because it, to me at least, showed that big, commercial products could still deliver a truly compelling experience that I actually cared about. There is still a huge amount of talent working on the business/professional side of things and I hope that we continue to see an expansion of the medium because of it
Ok, so some of those are kind of soft balls. I really wanted to put a few more on here, but some where just overshadowed by similar games, and others I simply don't have a copy of them right now. Anyway, I will be very impressed if I can get her to even play all of these (or any of them). If I do, I will certainly be writing about the experience.
Have a nice day!