Imagine this nightmare scenario: you’ve been on a couple of dates with someone who seems to be the very definition of your perfect partner. They’re everything you’ve ever wanted in a person and in your mind you’re already thinking of baby names. Things have been going great but, on the third date, the subject of hobbies finally comes up. You explain to your future wife/husband that you have a burning passion for all things video games, particularly on the PC, at which point the Jennifer Lawrence/Channing Tatum lookalike responds with:
“Oh, errrmmm… I don’t really play computer games. I’ve played Angry Birds, does that count?”
Before you decide it’s not going to work and resign yourself to living out the rest of your existence as a crazy cat lady/weird loner, just remember that there are some titles available on the PC which can be enjoyed by people who still think computers are only used for spreadsheets and the internet.
The following list is comprised of PC games which can be enjoyed by non-gamers. Some of them are easy for newbies to play themselves, while others require less direct interaction and are simply fun to watch.
So, should you ever face the (admittedly unlikely) scenario above, then there's no need to roll out the “sorry you’ll never have grandkids” speech to your parents again. Just consult this list and you may be able to turn that almost perfect partner into a gamer.
If your partner enjoys more cerebral pursuits, or is simply a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, then Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, is a great title to introduce them to the joys of PC gaming.
SH:CaP manages to perfect that difficult mechanic which so many other detective games slip up on; it gives the player just the right amount of freedom in order to solve the crimes. In certain similar titles where the protagonist is a detective, there are usually only so many options available when it comes to the actual investigating. This can lead to cases being solved quickly through simple trial and error. If, on the other hand, there are absolutely loads of locations, objects, characters, plot devices, etc., then the whole thing can get a bit overwhelming. SHCaP gets the balance exactly right.
Great puzzles, six separate cases and some authentic characters all come together to make this a great title to play with a non-gamer. You even have to make some moral choice decisions now and again. Solve each mystery as a team to figure out whodunnit and impress your other half with some Holmes-like deducing. Although, try not to shout “THE GAME IS AFOOT!” every time you find a new clue, as this wears thin very quickly, apparently.
Buy Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments here
God bless you, Japan, for the incredible number of weird and wonderful games you’ve bestowed upon the world. And with D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, you’ve given us one of the best. Originally published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox One, it thankfully arrived on the PC in April this year.
While still more of a cinematic experience than a 'traditional' game, D4 does have a greater number of interactive elements than similar episodic titles. You may spend the first ten minutes of D4 wondering what the hell is going on, but it soon starts to come together - at which point you’ll appreciate what a good story lies behind the all the cat references and hilarious weirdness so typical in Japanese games.
D4 does consist of an awful lot of quick time events and not many sections where two players can collaborate, but for sheer entertainment value it’s one of the best games available. The whole thing is like fantastic Manga-esque TV series - it almost feels as if it’s been designed with observers in mind. A word of warning: it may be great, but the two released episodes are fairly short and D4 features one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen in video games. When you play it, y o u ’ l l………….k n o w ………… w h o ………I………m e a n.
Dontnod Entertainment proved that Telltale doesn’t have a total monopoly on episodic, cinematic games with Life is Strange, one of the greatest examples of interactive storytelling in recent years.
The story of teenager Max Caulfield’s return to her Oregon hometown and her discovery that she can rewind time in order to alter events is an enthralling, beautiful tale with some truly jaw-dropping moments. More interactive than Telltale’s offerings, Life is Strange brilliantly mixes puzzles, moral decision making and one of greatest, most compelling stories in gaming. And despite its subject matter, you don’t have to be a teenage girl to enjoy LiS. Its appeal really is universal.
Non-gamers can enjoy watching each Twilight-zone like episode while simultaneously chipping in with their opinion on what responses to give, as well as offering solutions to puzzles. Additionally, LiS’s simple control system makes it a good game to use the '30 minutes each' two-player method - a great way to introduce newbies to using controllers.
Buy Life is Strange here
When it comes to cinematic gaming experiences, Telltale Games is the generally regarded as king of the genre. Their episodic titles, such as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, show the evolution of ‘limited interactivity’ games from 90’s FMV crap into something that combines genuinely enthralling storytelling, beautiful looks and agonizing moral choices.
Out of all of Telltale’s episodic games, Game of Thrones is the best and probably the most cinematic. The very limited user interaction in no way detracts from how much enjoyment can be gained from playing it. It’s also one of the best games ever made when it comes to watching someone else playing it - and lets face it, everyone loves Game of Thrones
Stick on GoT and let your non-gaming partner enjoy what feels like an actual episode from the TV show, but one where you can both decide which biting responses characters can throw at each other - and who lives or dies.
Same-screen cooperative play in video games can be a difficult thing to pull off, but anyone wanting an example of the best way to implement this mechanic should look at the Lego series. While it’s true that some of the earlier titles do occasionally struggle with split screen, the modern games make playing next to someone on the sofa a brilliant and non-restricting experience.
Aside from being such an amazing two-player game, the main reason why the Lego series takes the top spot is because they're so incredibly simple for anyone, even 100% certified non-gamers, to pick up and play. Smashing things, collecting coins and holding down a button to build structures can bring endless amounts of satisfaction to all who play these games.
The simple puzzles require two characters to work together range from simple to fiendish in their difficulty, and completing one really gives players a sense of teamwork. The games are based on such a wide variety of franchises that there’s bound to be one your non-gaming partner is a fan of. It’s worth remembering that while the Lego titles did improve in quality as each new game was released, they also increased in complexity; I personally find Lego’s Indiana Jones and Harry Potter games to be the apex of the series.
Once you’ve got your (now-former) non-gaming partner hooked on Lego, you can expand and start introducing them to the huge range of PC games out there. Before you know it, they’ll be telling you they can’t come over this weekend because they need to work on their Dota 2 game and have a Civilization marathon planned.
Video games - the great creator and destroyer of relationships.
What other good PC titles can be played with non-gamers? Let us know in the comments below.