My wife is not a gamer.
She’s a geek — after all, she enjoys Doctor Who, grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, and fit in just fine in the Honors college dorm just like I did — and she is quite intelligent.
But video games? Eh.
This is an issue I sometimes face: The occasional time I want to play a video game, it usually means separation in the marriage. Too often, my selfish desire conflicts with something she wants: spending time together. No, having her sit and watch you shoot guns everywhere doesn’t count, either.
So in the interest of saving a few marriages, here’s five video game series you can play together — even if your significant other doesn’t really play video games at all.
LEGO games. I’m dead serious, and I’m in my 20s for those of you who just smirked. If you have any sense of humor whatsoever, you’ll enjoy the LEGO Star Wars games, but my wife has especially enjoyed running around as Batman and Robin (and others, in the sequel) and having a blast. LEGO Batman 2 has a humongous city filled with mini-challenges and achievements that take quite a while to get, so there’s a bonus for that too.
The gameplay is fairly simple, the stories are well done, and the violence is kept to a minimum (and they pop apart when an enemy is destroyed!). Plus, there are hours of gameplay you can spend doing challenges, chasing minikits, freeplaying levels, and the series has plenty of titles in a variety of universes. What’s not to love?
Sly Cooper. The story is a well-crafted beauty that really makes you want to root for the protagonists, and the gameplay occasionally challenges those with plenty of skill. The writers leave plenty of funny moments strewn throughout, especially in the third game, Honor Among Thieves. With a large amount of variety in challenges — from driving a car to paragliding and sneaking through levels avoiding guards — there’s something for the both of you (or your kids, if you have them!) that’s family friendly and anyone can pick up.
It’s a single-player game, so what my wife and I did is swap levels. Or if she got stuck, she’d let me take over. It worked fairly well because sometimes while she was neck-deep in sneaking around, I’d fix her a bowl of ice cream or something, so not only where we enjoying time together, I could score major brownie points. Just sayin’.
(Some) Mario games. The first that comes to mind (if you’re willing to swap off) is the Super Mario Galaxy series, which I found more than entertaining with the new angles on both gameplay and how you view your character. For someone who’s green around the gaming thumbs, that alone may provide all of the entertainment necessary to keep the gameplay fresh — and, hey, you have to admit, it is fairly fun.
The New Super Mario Bros games, with their sidescrolling action, present enough of a challenge with cooperative play to make a fun family affair. And carrying your squad on your back can be an entire challenge unto itself.
Meanwhile, Mario Party typically goes over well for those who don’t game much, and the Paper Mario series is a turn-based battle system, allowing you to talk strategy and coach your loved one through those Goomba battles you don’t feel like doing yourself.
Halo. So your spouse can chuck hand grenades at you. (Just kidding, although my wife playing Grifball online is great fun in itself.)
Kinect Sports/Wii Sports. No thumb coordination required! For those of us who have played video games for years, this may seem like something weird, but think to when you were first learning how to play. For me, that’s a full year of the original Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation 1. First video game + younger kid = long time to learn and grasp concepts needed to win.
The same concept applies here, only in this case the game(s) doesn’t require you to know how to do that at all. Whether it’s bowling, chipping on the green, or throwing a pitch, the games are different enough than I’ve had parents jumping in to play when I visit back home, so why wouldn’t your spouse?
Burnout series. This is for two reasons: Crash and Road Rage. The Crash game mode(s) don’t take too long per attempt, and you can always retry if you fail. Plus, you’re intentionally crashing you car to cause the most damage possible.
If that wasn’t good enough, Road Rage is a faster-paced gameplay that you can play together or swap off against the computer. It simultaneously taps into every driver’s deep, inner, sitting-in-traffic-and-I’m-going-crazy desires and has only three controls: Acceleration, Brake, and Turbo. Simple enough to pick up quickly.
So there’s my list of five. What are yours?