As you're sitting on the couch wearing a headset, playing a game and chatting with your distant friends over the internet, it's easy to forget that video games are often best enjoyed with another person in the same room.
Of course, that's not the only way to enjoy a game. There are a lot of different ways to play games with people. Still, sometimes it feels like when most of us think of playing games with friends, we think of playing games against our friends.
Today, I wanted to list some games that are great to share, or to play with a friend. Lately, my girlfriend and I have been finding a lot of time to play games together. Sometimes she watches me play games for work, other times I'll watch her play stuff, and still other times, we trade off the controller or play co-op games together. As a result of all that, I've been thinking a lot about the most fun games to play and share with another person.
The list below isn't made up entirely of games with built-in co-op. Some of the entries are singleplayer games that are nonetheless fun to share with someone. Maybe they're just enjoyable to watch, or maybe there are aspects of them that are still cool to share even if only one player gets to hold a controller. The main criteria I used was that they're all games that are good to play with someone, but they never (or very infrequently) make you feel like you're playing against the other person. They'll bring you closer together, rather than pitting you against one another. (Sorry everyone, no Mario Kart or Smash Bros. on this particular list, nor Fifa or Madden.)
This is not a complete list—it's a starter list, pulled together after I polled Kotaku's staff and got some suggestions. I'd love for you all to help me complete it, to share the games you like to play with your friends and why. For now though, here are some great games to play with your friend or significant other:
Portal 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Probably the most obvious entry on this list. This game has some of the best split-screen cooperative multiplayer of all time OF ALL TIME.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac)
A surprisingly close second to Portal 2 in the "Co-op puzzles" category; this game is waaaaay smarter than I expected it to be, and I still play it from time to time.
Catherine (Xbox 360, PS3)
A straight-up singleplayer game that still works well with a friend or even a room full of friends. Hand the controller around during the frustrating puzzle sections, but make sure everyone weighs in on the moral choices and girlfriend dilemma.
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)
Not really a very good game by most conventional measures, but still surprisingly fun to share with a friend. Furthermore, having one player control Aiden and one control Ellen Page further underlines the idea that they're to different people.
An unfortunately overlooked, wonderful little game that allows for one less experienced player to provide assistance for the main character.
Super Mario Galaxy/Galaxy 2 (Wii)
A pioneer in the helpful sidekick department, Galaxy lets both players contribute while saving its steepest challenges for the first player.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
Collaborative in a different way from Galaxy, the Wii U's latest, greatest Mario game makes you work together more than it pits you against one another. It's certainly not the relationship-killer that New Super Mario Bros. Wii was, which is a relief.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
The ScareScraper might be the most unsung part of the generally excellent Luigi's Mansion, particularly given that you can play a limited version via with friends who don't even own the game. (They'll need their own 3DS, though.) This is an excellent way to kill time at conventions or at the airport.
Broken Age (PC, Mac)
Broken Age felt more like an animated TV miniseries than a classic hardcore adventure game, but that's actually a good thing. Even using a mouse it was a cinch to play on the big screen, and looked lovely in HD.
The Walking Dead (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS)
The first (and so far, second) seasons of The Walking Dead were both like tense, well-written TV shows, but where the characters respond when you yell advice to them. Works if you hand the controller back and forth, but also good if you just quickly confer on the difficult decisions.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War is one of the big daddies of console co-op, and the third game in the series will have you and a friend back to back in the trenches before chainsawing your way through the Locust hordes. Always a good time.
The Wolf Among Us (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS)
Enjoyable for similar reasons to The Walking Dead, if a little more slow-paced. Particularly good for fans of the comics.
Probably the sexiest iPad game ever made, or at least one of them. Warning: Do not play this game with your siblings or parents.
Pac Man Championship Edition DX (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
It may be a single player Pac-Man game, but Championship Edition DX is still a blast to share with a friend. Switch off games and see who can get the highest score, the biggest chain of ghosts, and the most ridiculous bonuses. And don't forget to dance to the music.
Heavy Rain (PS3)
The story's a mess and really, so's the game, but it's all unusual enough to be really fun to play with a friend next to you on the couch. Plus, plenty of decisions to tear your hear out over.
Lego Marvel Superheroes (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii U)
Or really, any Lego game. These games are a blast to play co-op, and great for gamers of most ages, too.
GTA V (Xbox 360, PS3)
Grand Theft Auto games come with a time-honored tradition of handing a controller and giving everyone one life to cause as much havoc as possible.
The Last of Us (PS3)
This game, along with Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, might be the most watchable action games around; they're plenty enjoyable for their narratives, cutscenes and performances. The Last of Us in particular is a fine game to share.
The Room/The Room 2 (iPad)
Few games are as fun to play with a friend, the two of you hunched over the iPad and studying the gears and buttons on each of the many intricate puzzle-boxes. The Room's "Eureka!" moments are best shared.
Outlast (PC, PS4)
Outlast is fun to share for the same reason that it's fun to watch a horror movie with a friend. Getting scared is just more fun with another person to grab when you scream. And dudes... you will scream playing this game.
Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360, PC, Mac)
As fun today as it was when it first came out, Left 4 Dead 2 on consoles offers a fine split-screen mode that'll have you frantically working together to fight off the zombie hordes.
Like I said at the top, this list is a good starter but it's far from complete. I hope you'll chime in below and list your own additions, bearing in mind the criteria for this specific list: Games that are mostly co-operative, even if they're single-player; that can be as fun to watch as they are to play, and that are great to share.
If you do submit an entry, be sure to include an image from the game (Preferably 16x9, avoid massive box-art if you can help it), the name of the game, and why it's a good one to share with a friend.