I don’t understand why my girlfriend enjoys the video games she does. They aren’t from any specific genre, some are brimming with violence, they’re often for age groups she doesn’t fit into and, most importantly, a lot of them involve guns.
What usually happens is she’ll see me playing a certain game and then ask, “Do you think I would like that game?” I usually reply with, “No, it’s too violent,” or “No, it’s too difficult for your nOOb gaming skillz.” Despite my educated guess, she typically gives the game a try anyway and I sit there, staring at the TV, amazed that she’s actually playing a video game that doesn’t involve cuddly fluffy bunnies.
This recently happened with Call Of Duty: Black Ops. She saw me playing the game’s zombie mode and for some reason decided that she would enjoy playing it. The next day I walked into our place and she and her sister were blasting the crap out of zombies with shot guns. This from a woman who only months before said that she didn’t like violence in video games at all.
For the last week or so I’ve been trying to figure out why these titles appeal to her. Recently she even started playing Halo: Reach. Like I said before, she’s always been adamant that she doesn’t enjoy seeing violence in video games, yet for some reason she found Reach’s explosions, blood splatter and grotesque screams acceptable. I asked her why one day and she couldn’t really explain it.
As far as I can tell, the game’s fun-factor and simplicity outweigh her distaste for the violence so many other gamers enjoy. I imagine this is the same reason she enjoys Black Ops. Zombies is blatantly violent, but at its core is a little more than a simple mini-game with a clear goal – kill zombies with various weapons and survive for as long as possible.
She didn’t grow up playing video games and only tries certain titles because she see’s me playing them all the time. The one exception to this rule is the terrible Series Of Unfortunate Events game she’s been playing recently. This original Xbox game, based on the movie/book series of the same name, is possibly one of the ugliest, most boring titles I’ve ever seen, yet she seems to sincerely enjoy it (so much so that she’s completed it twice now).
While playing through this terrible game, she has also slowly progressed through Mafia II. Yes, you heard me correctly, Mafia II. Now what on earth would possibly make her like this game? She doesn’t like GTA IV and always scoffs at its seemingly meaningless chaos and destruction, yet some how Mafia II appeals to her. Apparently she likes the game’s main character, Vita Scaletta. She finds him endearing, interesting and, most notably, rather attractive. She even likes the game’s plot; she’s not interested in organized crime movies, she knows nothing about the Mafia, yet this era-spanning story was interesting to her. She also enjoys driving the game’s cars, something I didn’t believe when she first told me because she’s always hated driving in video games, but she insists that Mafia II’s in-car sections are some of her favourite moments. I’d guess this is due, at least in part, to the games throwback soundtrack.
Lately, she’s been thinking she wants to play Dead Island. I’ve tried to explain that it isn’t simple to play and that the game is all the more complex because it is open-ended. It’s not a travel from point a to point b experience; it’s a deep role playing game that requires a significant time commitment. Also, it’s amazingly violent, an element she still claims to absolutely detest in video games (although I’m starting to thinks she doesn’t even believe this herself anymore).
I think there’s some sort of lesson to be learned here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s that when you’re looking at a new video game you shouldn’t let preconceived notions prevent you from trying it out. The whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying comes to mind here.
So, is my girlfriend slowly starting to get into games that don’t suck and accepting the fact that violence in video games can be entertaining? Or is she just aimlessly choosing random games because she see’s me playing them and grows curious?