One of the biggest challenges the gaming industry faces right now is how to attract new people to the field, how to create more gamers. It's a question a lot of gamers ask as well (usually trying to turn on a significant other to gaming). So we posed the following question to our staff: "What games would you use to get someone into gaming" and to make it harder we outlawed the easy answer of "Just buy them a Wii". The following is a list of some games you can use to try and convert your non-gaming friends and family into gamers.
Dave Gamble – Staff Writer
When I’m showing a non-gamer exactly what he/she is missing by assuming that gaming is all blood, guts, or Pong™ (What can I say? I run with an older crowd), I will nearly always choose a PC-based sim. Depending on the mutual interests that led me to demo the PC sim world in the first place (which, given my limited interests, is either flying or auto racing), I will demonstrate the possibilities with one or two of the high-end sims that I have. For racing, it will be either SimBin’s GTR2 for its high degree of polish and eye candy, or rFactor for its nearly infinite expandability via free mods. Both have stunningly accurate physics models, and it is not unusual (in fact, it’s the norm) for a first-timer to struggle for hours before making their first successful circumnavigation of a track.
For flying, I will choose between Microsoft Flight Sim X with the CH yoke and Saitek rudder pedals or Ubisoft’s Pacific Fighters with the Saitek X52 and rudder pedals. Both flight sims also absolutely stun when coupled with the TrackIR head tracking system.
For the really adventurous, I set them up in Battlefield 2 where they can experience driving a tank, running themselves over with a Jeep, or flying a helicopter gunship. Oddly enough, that’s the one they seem to have the most success at.
Rachel Steiner – Staff Writer
As far as getting someone into gaming, the games I would choose to have them play would depend on what genres they like. If they aren't huge into gaming perhaps look at the types of movie they're into and try to choose accordingly. If I had someone with similar tastes to my own, I would probably start off with a game like Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger has an epic storyline of time travel and has great replay value due to the sheer number of endings the game has. Also, the diverse group of characters usually means that everyone will have someone they relate to.
Next would be Dragon Warrior 4. I've always had a special place in my heart for the Dragon Warrior series and the fourth installment in particular. The game starts off with 4 chapters that follow your companions. You get a look into their lives and what exactly led them to go adventuring and eventually meet up with your hero in Chapter 5. After Dragon Warrior 4 then would come Final Fantasy 6 (3 in America). The pattern with these games is not necessarily the graphics but that the characters and stories are memorable. Each character has a different reason for being where they are and because of that, anyone can find someone that they like.
Ben Berry – Staff Writer
What I find usually leads people to gaming is something that is simple to pick up and play, but offers enough depth that if they start to enjoy it they can begin to explore more. One of the games I was most surprised by was Hexic, which is a Bejeweled/Tetris clone. I originally started playing it simply to grab some easy achievement points but once I got into it, I was hooked. I’ve played something like 6 hours of this game trying for some of the more difficult feats, and it went from a casual game experience to a minor obsession.
Clearly, the Wii is the leader at this right now, but one thing I wouldn’t do is give a brand new gamer a Wii remote and let them play WarioWare. There’s a big difference between a game that starts simple and sucks you in, and one that for the most part has you do simple movements that aren’t really a “game”. It might be ideal in a party situation, but for introducing new gamers, it isn’t where I’d want to start. Something like Rayman: Raving Rabbids which offers instructions on how to perform each move, and the mini-games have more of a feeling of accomplishment to them would be a much better starting point.
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