Gun Shy: Games to get your girl gaming

“Shoot‘em! SHOOT’EM! How did you die? That is the easiest enemy in the game?” -That is a brief scenario that I believe scares away too many potential female gamers from the enjoyable world of video games and FPSs [first person shooters] in particular. Above, a well intentioned male gamer attempts to bring his significant other into the world of video gaming so it may be something they can enjoy together but the approach is all wrong. You will never get your female friend involved in video gaming if you shove them in front of a quick twitch shooter then hover over their shoulder yelling at them. You very well could scare them away from what could have been decades of enjoyable gaming and, at the worst, you.

So what route should a male gamer take to bring his girlfriend/wife into the nerd herd?  How do you market games to a newb*? Much like you would talk her into a threesome, you want to ease her into the idea first. Have her watch you play a visually stunning game to capture her attention. Answer her questions regarding the game you are playing in detail and not quickly as if she is a bother. Once you have peaked her curiosity then let her experience a game for herself.

So where do you start? What type of game should you suggest for her to play? Well a quick survey of the female board members of GamingNerdHerder mentioned these aspects as appealing qualities in games that first got them clicking:

  • multiple challenges: not just kill this and kill that (i.e. make $, keep citizens happy and accomplish multiple tasks in-order to succeed at an overall goal)
  • violence is not the focal point: can include violence but it is held at a distance (this also seems to hold true in society; violence can be tolerated more when it is viewed from a distance)
  • creative juices will be used: construction and design with some added tinkering

So if you have some knowledge of the gaming world then you can already guess what type of game you should suggest (or if you are looking to score points, purchase) for your girlfriend to play. City builders! Real time strategy games were you build your city, amusement park, empire etc… from usually a top down view. These types of games all include the qualities mentioned above with some totally devoid of violence and others that include a heavy, from a distance, war aspect (see the Sid Meier’s Civilization [Civ] series).

Where there is city building there is city destroying.

Some other city builder series to consider for your lady friend:

  • RollerCoaster Tycoon: Amusement park builder now in its third iteration with a 4th likely.
  • Pharaoh: An ancient city builder with ancient graphics but great game play.
  • Zoo Tycoon (1 & 2): Always wanted to manage a zoo but not fond of human sized feces? Here’s an alternative.
  • SimCity: Reviews for the 4th and most recent edition were solid and it also has a strong online community for extended play.

  • Stronghold: An engaging castle builder with the 3rd game in the series on the horizon (likely to release this year).
  • Tropico: The 3rd game of this series is available now, all you have to do is decide if you want to wrap yourself in a red commie blanket or kiss the feet of the capitalist dogs.

Lay out your [city] plans right and you can have a gaming companion for years to come and another nerd to join the herd. Hey ladies! Have other games that brought you into video gaming? Let me know about them in the comments.

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*Newb is leetspeak for an inexperienced gamer who is capable and willing to learn. Not to be confused with noob: a gamer who is unable to learn and unable to improve at gaming.

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Top 10 Cures for Weapon Disassociation

This week I follow up my last post regarding rewarding in-game weapons. Below you will find 10 in-game weapons that effectively present appearance; sound associated with the weapon’s usage; and provide visually accurate/corresponding feedback when fired. This list is not definitive, and limited to FPS games, but all the weapons listed below do meet, and exceed, the prerequisites of a superior in-game weapon.

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Land Shark Gun

10 ) Land Shark Gun / Armed and Dangerous: A gun based off a classic Saturday Night Live skit that makes you laugh almost every time it is fired.

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Spinfusor

9 ) Spinfusor (disk launcher) / Tribes 2: It reminds me of the Aerosmith infused arcade game Revolution X where you fired CDs and LaserDiscs at your enemies. Yes, LaserDiscs were a weapon – at least they were good for something.

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8 ) Gravity Gun / Half Life 2: Most of the fun comes from seeing what you can use as a weapon. Kill someone with the body of someone you already killed? Yes, you can do that.

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7 ) Auto Shotgun / Left 4 Dead: One of the best solutions to someone yelling “Tank!” into your headphones.

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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

6 ) Lightsaber / Jedi Knight series: “A more elegant weapon from a more civilized age.”


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5 ) Rail Gun / Quake 3 Arena: Also a pretty good nickname to give your penis.

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Grenade Launcher

4 ) Grenade Launcher / Quake 2: Simplicity in design, simplicity in sound and simplicity in effect – a perfect example of form and function.

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Shrink Ray

3 ) Shrink Ray / Duke Nukem Series: What’s better than Pig Cops? Mini Pig Cops that you squish beneath your boots! Come get some!

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2 ) Sniper Rifle / Team Fortress 2: When up against it you are constantly looking for the red dot tell. When behind its scope you hide the dot just enough for it to be missed. One of the most beautiful head shot generators in the gaming world. Mind your head wanker!

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1 ) Super Shotgun / Doom II: Double barrel all da’ way!

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Just missing the cut were the Pipe Bomb from the Left 4 Dead games; the Tracer Dart Gun from Battlefield Bad Company 2; and what would of been the third weapon from the Quake series, the Rocket Launcher from Quake II. Let me know what weapons should of challenged my top ten ways to cure weapon disassociation in the comments.

Pew! Pew! Lasers!: Enjoyable in-game weapons

You see the head of the opposing player’s avatar explode like a peanut butter, jelly and Black Cat sandwich. The body crumples to floor with a hilarious, yet accurate, ragdoll effect. Pwned*! But there is an emptiness after the kill. You feel somewhat disconnected from the shot and the corresponding avatars death. You are suffering from what I call Weapon Disassociation; the disconnect between your in-game weapon and its resulting impact on the environment and/or foe.

What makes a good in-game weapon? What cures you of weapon disassociation? In-game weapons need to effectively present appearance; sound associated with the weapon’s usage; and provide visually accurate/corresponding feedback when fired. Another aspect less important to being an effective in-game weapon is the correct correlation between the gun and the character using it; unless drastic dichotomy is the desired effect – Who wouldn’t like to see a smurf with a machine gun?

Machine Gun Smurf

The dichotomy works.

A FPS [First Person Shooter] relies heavily on its protagonist’s arsenal. If the player is left empty by the weapon and its feedback then no storyline, even if scripted by Tom Clancy, can save it. A first-rate (released in 1997) example of a weapon taking advantage of all of the aforementioned characteristics can be seen in Quake II’s, from Id Software, grenade launcher. It looks like a “fired from the hip” weapon capable of lobbing death grenades. It provides visual feedback that links well with the ammo being fired and the sound, oh the sound, is spot on for a grenade being plopped out of a tube. The resulting area of impact explosion is not spectacular but captures the desired effect with simplicity. Simplicity, that is how Quake II’s grenade launcher achieves success. Pthunk! Pthunk! Jump to the 1 minute mark below to see this success in action.

You want to hear, feel and see the impact of the weapon you fire and you want it to be believable unless, the desired effect is to be ridiculous – like the opposite of a Smurf with a machine gun. A fine example of a ridiculous in-game weapon comes from the PC classic Armed and Dangerous, created by Planet Moon Studios and released by LucasArts in 2003 – the Land Shark Gun (video below).

So to avoid weapon disassociation, a rocket launcher shouldn’t go ping! and a laser shouldn’t go bong! unless humor is the desired outcome. This all leads into next weeks A.D.D. approachable post, my top 10 in-game weapons.

*Pwn[ed] is a leetspeak term derived from the verb own, as meaning to appropriate or to conquer.

Shinie Induced Boners

With Diablo 3 on the horizon, like a Rancor in Jabba’s Palace, I can’t help but salivate in anticipation of all the shinies (droped loot from killed enemies i.e. rings, armor, weapons and gold) left behind by fallen foes. Oh to hear the “baaaaaaa!” noise a Satyr makes as he falls and his hoard is laid bare at my feet. Images of Blizzard’s Diablo 2 and its expansion Lord of Destruction keep flashing into my head. I can envision the inventory screen laid out in front of me with all the rare, unique and set items positioned ever-so upon my person or in my stash – with multiple Stone’s of Jordan grouped together.

My precious...

My precious... the Stone of Jordan

Diablo 2 and, even the earlier Diablo, tapped into my O.C.D. like no other game before or since. A slight boner would present itself almost every time Deckard Cain would say, “Hello there.” as he would prepare to identify my newly found magic shinies.

Deckard Cain - Shinie Identifier

Yes. There was a time were this mans voice inspired a chub.

This game created the desire to continue to play even after you finished the main story line once, twice, or even three times. After the first play through you could decide to start the storyline over and play it in a more difficult mode and then do all over again. Each time the game would become harder and your character would seem weaker. Each time the shinies that were dropped were that much more joyous to find…and powerful.

What was it that compelled me to continue my quests to find the next best thing? Did I need to complete a magical, 4 or 5 piece, set of armor and weapons? Did I need to find a helm that was just a little bit better? Or did my amazon warrior just look a bit sexier with a giant rare javelin in her hands [Please insert your own Freud joke here]? The answer is yes to all those questions. The desire for shinies could be justified in so many ways.

With the change in art design from Diablo 2 to 3 and an almost entirely new cast of playable characters, there has been some worry about the game remaining true to its past. I believe as long as they shroud the storyline in the same deathly-dark atmosphere as in Diablo and Diablo 2 then results will be very satisfying – but hey Blizzard, make sure to shed some “light” on the atmosphere with a heavy dose of SHINIES.