Monday, February 9, 2009

It's finally happened!

I spent the entire weekend playing an MMO with my girlfriend!

If you're wondering why that's such a big deal, then perhaps I need to fill you in on a little history. My girlfriend very rarely plays video games. I'm talking maybe 20 hours of gaming every 6 months. The only way I've managed to get her interested in games in the past, was by appealing to her love for fantasy and sci-fi (i.e. Star Wars). KOTOR on Xbox and Pokemon on GBA were winners, but almost everything else failed miserably.

There was a period nearly two and a half years ago, where I managed to get her playing WoW. She loved the game, but she stopped playing after about 20 hours online. It was completely my fault. I'm a min-maxer by nature and so I tend to rush through MMO games in order to have the most awesome PvP character available. My gf had no interest in PvP. She was having fun picking herbs and using emotes in the Evermoon fountain. I tried to push my min-maxing style of game play on her in order to improve her character, and it consequently destroyed her entire WoW experience.

If I had of just let her do her own thing, we'd probably have spent the last two and a bit years playing MMOs together. Lesson definitely learned. You cannot try and push 6+ years of MMO gaming experience onto someone completely new to gaming and expect them to understand, or even enjoy it. You have to let them take things at their own pace. This includes learning about the dynamics of the game through VERY slow PvE exploration.

So how did I manage to get her interested in an MMO again after the scare I gave her with WoW?

Friday night, I downloaded the trial version of City of Heroes. I'd been reading about it for quiet some time through various blogs, and I thought that it was a good idea to check it out before Champions Online hit the shelves. I installed the trial and created a female Scrapper (melee DPS). I got to the screen where you create your super hero costume and my gf walked into the room:

GF: "Wow, that looks interesting! What game is that?"

ME: "Just some super hero MMO that lets you design your own costume and then go around beating up baddies"

GF: "Your hero looks like a slut! You should give her some more clothes. Bad guys are more likely to ask 'how much?', than actually run in fear."

ME: "If you think you can design a better costume, you are welcome to try..."
(how good was the bait?)

Ten minutes later, I had a trial account set and the game running on her computer (my old beast). We spent the next 3 hours or so having a blast designing super hero costumes. It's amazing how many combinations there are. Then came the big silent breath hold for me... did she want to play her newly designed super hero? Luckily she instinctively pressed the next button before I even had to ask. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it certainly did me a favor.

Learning from my previous mistake, I took things very very slow. We did the tutorial together, but I made sure I was always 2 steps behind her. She was the expert and I was the novice. She loved thinking she was teaching me and I loved pretending she was as well...

We spent the rest of the weekend leveling our characters in the City of Heroes. We even ordered pizza and ate it in a LAN party style fashion. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.

A big thank you to NCSoft/Cryptic for City of Heroes and to the bloggers that got me interested in the game to begin with: Sente, Tipa and Syp.


Anonymous said...

Big win :) The thing I love most about CoH/CoV is the way you can just run a solo adventure in half an hour if that's all the time you have, or run around with a team bashing things for hours for amazing xp if you want.

Thanks for the link!

mbp said...

I guess I have generally given up hope of ever really converting my own lovely wife to video games. I did make a few abortive attempts but it always ended in failure / disinterest.

Now we have reached a kind of mutual agreement. If she doesn't play video games with me I don't have to watch Grays anatomy / ER / Desperate Housewife's etc with her.

Nimgimli said...

I just hope the girlfriend doesn't read this post, ("She loved thinking she was teaching me and I loved pretending she was as") or you're gonna be on the couch!! :)

I'm lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who is a gamer, too. My only challenge is trying to get her to play something other than EQ2. But that's a problem I can deal with.

I hope you two continue to have fun in CoH!

Anton said...

You should write a book: "How to Get Your Girlfriend to Play MMO's"

...But don't let her read that, either.

Anonymous said...

Great that you had fun together in CoH/CoV! It is a quite nice game for some casual game play and exciting team play. And it works well to play for a short session, as well as longer session as Tipa says.

Did you go for a leveling pact? With a pact you would always share your xp, so you would always be in sync level-wise, even if one played more than the other.

Not that this would be a major problem in the game, with the excellent sidekick/exemplar support.

You would have had to pick the pact at the latest at level 5 though, which you probably have passed by now.

Elementalistly said...

Tricky dude...

That works for me also though...
Appeal to the side of the wife that will make her say,,,"Hey, I wanna play."

The beheadings in AoC for example, a surefire win for my wife...


Anonymous said...

Nice sleight of hand there :D

Now if I could get my other half in on the game, then I'd get more gaming time.

So far TF2 and L4D don't seem to appeal though :/

The last game she was vaguely interested in was the original Black and White back in 2000. Except till we both realised how much it sucked.

Luckily though, her 9 year old neice is on the right track. Had her playing Portal and Audiosurf last time I was back visiting :D

Melf_Himself said...

I can confirm this. Crimson does in fact have a girlfriend :p

Crimson Starfire said...

Huge win! Even if she gets bored of the game after a week, at least it's a baby step toward being interested in MMO games in general.

Unfortunately with the trial, you can't team up. So we have pretty much been doing missions solo. I might just buy one account, so that we can at least do missions together.

Although the mutual agreement sounds good to me, I wouldn't give up hope. There were a few times where I thought about giving up, but I held in there and it's payed off. Every little attempt you make to get her interested in games may look like it just deflects off her anti-gamer skin, but in actual fact it's slowly etching a hole into her defenses ;)

I was kinda hoping she didn't read it, but she tackled me just before I posted it. Girls have this six sense that alerts them to things that will lead to getting their boyfriend/husband in trouble :(

Strangely she found it really romantic in a geeky kind of way. /wipe sweat off brow. Although I'm glad I didn't title the post 'Taming the Shrew', which was my initial plan. Would have cost me more than the couch.

I wouldn't worry about getting her off EQ2. You always cling to your first MMO. There will be a point when she just wakes up and feels like playing something different ;)

Lol. To tell you the truth, I put a lot less effort into getting her to play this MMO, than all the others. It was the hero costume editor that made the sale. I just added a little extra bait.

Yeah I'm really enjoying CoX. Its an awesomely designed MMO. It would be nice if it was possible to interact more with the environment (ie. throw cars, snap tree etc), but I guess thats more of a technology thing.

We weren't able to do a leveling pact because the trial prevents it. If she's still interested in playing this weekend, I'll upgrade the account to full version. I'm not really fussed about money if it means keeping her interested in MMO gaming.

Yeah, it all comes down to influencing her through ninja trickery. I'm slowly learning... ;)

Definately scary about the beheadings... /gulp

Yeah, I couldn't see her taking up TF2 or LFD. You might think about starting off with Puzzle Pirates or something of the sort. It's finding the game that suits their interest that is the tricky part.

Good idea about training them young. If I end up having any daughters, there will be a lot of gaming brain washing happening. Their bf's will thank me later ;)