Outside of our warm, safe video gaming bubble, there are others. Those Who Just Don't Get It. Their eyes glaze over when you start talking about Skyrim or Sword & Sworcery.
And that's on the genteel side of the spectrum. True haters will snarl at you about the evil anti-aesthetics of video games or rant about how FPSes are desensitizing whole swaths of society. They need stern yet enjoyable convincing.
Think of the suggestions below a loadout of altruism with which to wage the war of opening a games-hater's mind. Good luck, soldier.
Lots of video game refuseniks turn up their noses at the medium because they lack context—no who, what, when and why. They think that video games just show in a Kmart along with the tube socks and deodorant.
Harold Goldberg's cultural history of the video game medium—oh, it's also a sci-fi novel—brings the folks who made and make video games into sharp detail, illuminating the quirks, passions and crackling lightning bolts of genius that spawned hits like Madden NFL, EverQuest and BioShock.
That's right, hater. There are people behind these things. People like you.
($10 paperback; $12 for Kindle)
Lots of what happens in this wheelman-focused popcorn action flick also happens in video games. But in games like Driver San Francisco or Need for Speed The Run, you're the hero.
So here's our plan:
- (1) Get Fast Five and give to game-hating friend.
- (2) Commiserate about how unattainably awesome some cars are and how dreamy Paul Walker is.
- (3) Buy a copy of one of the games above for the game-hating friend.
- (4) Watch the hate melt away.
- (5) Marry Paul Walker
($20 Blu-ray; $15 DVD; available for rental online.)
Let's have some sympathy, okay? Your gift recipient may've had some bad formative experiences. Tears of frustration at rotten Farmville crops. A girlfriend who loved the Persona games more than them.
Who knows what curdled their heart against sweet, sweet interactivity? The simple, addictive enjoyment of Halfbrick's hit iOS release—available for iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad—harbors almost none of the foreboding controls that may engender rage in certified game-haters and its goofy retro charm might trigger long-buried memories of happier times of quarter-fueled joy.
($1 on Apple's iTunes App Store. A buck!)
Maybe your curmudgeonly anti-game acquaintance thinks that video games can't produce beauty. The dazzling Xbox 360 Kinect game developed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment dispels that notion almost immediately.
No one gestures inside Eden's breathing, kaleidoscopic gameworld and comes away unmoved.
No, it's not a game. But Cartoon Network's cult hit cartoon shows what kind of intricate hilarity happens when the minds behind it stew inside of a fringe culture. Every adventure that Hank, Dean, Dr. Venture and Brock Samson exhibits nerd references of spectacular depth. But you don't need to get the nods to G.I. Joe, Jonny Quest or The Defenders to enjoy the humor.
The lesson to learn? An entertainment can be enjoyed even if it's not in your wheelhouse. (If only there were a spectacular Venture Bros. video game to follow up with!)
($38 for Blu-ray.)