There was an interesting article posted on GameIndustry.Biz titled: Video Games are Boring. Brie Code talked about the challenges and difficulties of showing video games to non-gamers. The Game Industry as we know is vast and diverse, but can be a tough nut to crack if you aren't already a fan. For today's post, I want to see if we can come up with a list of the perfect titles for people who have never touched a video game.
Before we begin, I want to go over the rules for the list. As per the article, we're not going to include games that are built around fighting or have forced combat situations. The game should either be relaxing enough to zone out to, or in-depth enough to make you think and learn. We're going to focus on games that are built around short experiences or those that don't require hours to learn the basics.
I also want to avoid games that are too simple; something akin to fast-food. The person should still be engaged by the game, no matter how easy it is to play. Like-wise, anything built on monetization or pay to win tactics is out.
One last thing, I also want to avoid games built around fantastical or extreme situations. The reason is that someone brand new is not going to want to play a game where they must save the Universe or stop a murderer.
1: Gone Home
For the person who wants to explore a story. Gone Home's unique story, which I'm not going to spoil here, combined with no stakes or combat, is a great game for someone who wants a good story. The game does a great job of pulling someone into the world and letting them go about things at their own pace.
There is no threat, combat, or danger of any kind getting in the player's way. Depending on how invested the person gets will determine how much they learn about what's going on. While there is a lot to digest, the game's short playtime will not present an obstacle for someone to get into the game.
2: Stardew Valley
For the person who wants to get away. Technically Stardew Valley does have combat, but it is entirely optional. The Harvest Moon-styled games have always been a great way to introduce people to mechanics minus competition.
The game's story is all about getting away from the grind and stress of city life. The local villagers all have interesting stories, and the game grows at the player's pace. There is more of an investment in Stardew Valley, which can be good or bad. The game's simple mechanics and relaxing play is a perfect "zone out" game.
3: TIS-100, Infinifactory and SHENZHEN I/O
For the person who wants a puzzling challenge. I'm including three games from Zachtronics, but they're all built on similar ideas. Chances are these will be the most complex games for our list. Each game was designed around solving puzzles built on real-world thinking. Both TIS-100 and SHENZHEN I/O are about using programming logic to solve program-based puzzles. Infinifactory is about understanding assembly-lines and creating multi-step solutions to problems.
This is also the perfect way to introduce people to the thought process that goes into programming. Both TIS-100 and SHENZHEN make use of pseudo code built on real-world languages as the foundation.
Just like the other games, there are no time limits or threats. The only possible problem would be that Infinifactory's story is built around an alien abduction, but it can be skipped over for the most part. Due to the complexity, these games would only be for people who are looking for a challenge. They can be polarizing to play, but if you get into them, you'll find that there are hours of puzzles to solve.
4: Her Story
For the person who likes a mystery. Her Story is another game that is about exploring a story. Unlike Gone Home which left the player as a passive observer, Her Story wants you to figure out what's going on. We have a game that is part visual novel and part murder mystery. Having a live person helps to pull you into the setting and ground the situation in reality. You'll have to use abstract thinking to put together the situation; something unique for most games.
The only downside to Her Story is that this is a game that you can only experience once, but it's another game for someone who doesn't have a lot of time to dedicate.
5: Cook, Serve, Delicious!
For the person looking for something different. You would think a game about running a restaurant wouldn't be the oddest game on this list. CSD! is an interesting mix of simulating a restaurant while having nothing to do with real cooking.
You need to have quick hands to prepare a variety of food while keeping up with the demands of your customers. This would be the most stressful game on this list, and again, only for people wanting something completely different. For the person who wants to play something exciting while still low stakes, CSD is a delightful game.
For the person who wants to learn the guitar. One element from the article was the fact that there aren't a lot of games that can directly improve or help someone learn. The Rocksmith series is a great way to apply game design to learning how to play the guitar. The only catch is that they will require the necessary setup at their home in order to fully enjoy it.
7: Kerbal Space Program
For the person who loved to build model rockets. This would be another complex title for our list. Kerbal Space Program is all about building rockets and launching them into space. The game models real physics and rocket science to simulate the launch (and crashes). While not for everyone, Kerbal Space Program is a great example of using video games to teach a complicated topic.
8: The Sims
For the person who wants to create their own soap operas. Finally for our list, we turn to one of only a few AAA games for non-gamers. The Sims' concept was a virtual dollhouse for people to enjoy. Another game where you'll get out of it what you put into it. The sandbox environment allows you to do whatever you want in the game without being pressured into any goals.
The game's easy to understand UI is perfect for non-gamers. This is another game that several minutes of play can turn into hours if you get hooked on it.
That's going to do it for this list. I'm sure that there are more games out there, and if you know of any, feel free to mention it below.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to the Game-Wisdom Patreon campaign. Your donations can help to keep the site going and allow me to produce more great content. Follow me on Twitter @GWBycer, and you can find daily video content on the Game-Wisdom YouTube channel.