Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Friday, 13 January 2012 06:00
My wife is at home these days, recovering from our nightmare of a summer where a missed infection turned into a near-death experience and immediate open-heart surgery. One day I came home and my traditionally non-gamer wife was exceptionally interested in my progress in Arkham City. Turns out the baby had gone down for a nap and the chores were done, so she had set down for a bit of reality drama via Netflix. Being her first shot at the new dashboard she unintentionally launched Batman. In a suprising twist, she opted to give it a go.
It was fun finding out that she got "farther" than I did, when her last real experience with video games was the NES. She had gone a different way after getting the Bat suit, and had done different things than I did. Suddenly though she's wanting to play more and more often, and I'm loving it, even though she's now commandeered my Xbox 360. She's off playing the hardcore system, and I'm left with the Facebook games.
Recently, I picked up L.A. Noire from Goozex. I am currently in three big games, but I was up in the queue, so I decided to go for it. As traditionally done for games received in the mail, I put it in to check it, knowing I'd be putting it away for quite a while. My wife was there (waiting to play a little Arkham City).
Suddenly, she was hooked. Without even playing, I saw her giving a face I hadn't seen since the last Bachelor finale: enthralled in the television. She asked me how to do things, what this was, what that was. She watched me play. Then, I went to work...and found her when I got home cruising along the streets of 1940's Los Angeles.
She asked me to sit down and watch her. I found out that she was having the most fun simply driving the streets and listening to her partner go nuts when she broke traffic laws. Then, she found a five-story cliff right next to the main police precinct. Suddenly, the goal was to find every car she could and see how it went off the cliff (amazing how those cars still run as well as land on their tires).
She was hooked...but really only on that. Given the chance, I think she'd spend three hours just dropping cars off the cliff. I suppose that given her reality TV history, and her Facebook game enjoyment, I should have seen this coming. And believe me, I was glad that she was enjoying my hobby. I would take whatever chance I could to get her to get in on gaming with me. I was just trying to see what it would take to get her to actually...play, you know?
One day, after a week or so of her wanting sessions of cliff diving, I suggested she dive into the story. She had poked on it before, and was at a place where she had to visit a residence to question the inhabitants. Clues lay scattered. Puzzles left undone. Questioning to be done. Her curiosity eventually overwhelmed her and she was up until 1 AM, prodding through cases. Of course, it was amusing to see her seriously play and investigate for an hour, only to drive by a really cool bridge with a ledge that screamed "TURN HERE!" and we'd take a 15-minute break for lessons in gravity game physics.
Why does L.A. Noire appeal to the non-gamer crowd? I have looked online and found that she is not the only one to be hooked by this game. When I asked her, she said she loved the gritty realism, the personalities behind the people, the mystery of whether she can even trust her own character, and the choices available. These are also inherent in Batman, who caught her in the first place.
So now she's halfway through Disc 2 of 3. One thing I have noticed has gone completely backwards from what I thought it would: the game's "easy play" feature, wherein if you fail an action scene multiple times, it offers to skip it completely. If anything, this was an impetus to win. She would get frustrated, tell me she couldn't do it, then that choice to skip it would come up. I would offer to do it for her. She would silently press "continue" and do it again until she succeeded. (I was very proud of her as well.) By the way, she's now said I shouldn't get a PS3. I should get another Xbox, so we can both play the games we are working on. (Don't worry, I've explained the multiplatform capabilities of most releases.)
She's got one more invasive situation requiring her to go in for a week to the hospital, and she's requested that I allow her to take the 360 in for her to work through Noire on those long nights when I have to stay home with the kids. I'll have my Wii, and the Selects Series games I got for Christmas to plow through, but I'd better get my Batman in now!
Has anyone else ever had success in bringing their significant other into the fold? What game suprised you that finally hooked them? And what should I have waiting in the wings for my wife when she gets home after completing L.A. Noire?