Don’t Be That Guy: The I Know Better Gamer
It is always exciting when someone whom you had previously written off of ever having interest in video games comes around to loving one of them. Being the friendly ambassador to the industry that you are it is natural to want to take New Gamer by the hand to and show off all of what makes you enjoy video games as much as you do. You need to calm down, this new gamer is fragile and you are way too eager. You may think you are doing him/her a service, but if you aren’t careful you are going to come across as a self-centered destroyer of all the things that helped “New Gamer” finally get here.
Help is optional
Let New Gamer come to you for gaming advice and recommendations. It is especially important to remember that New Gamer is playing “First Favorite Game” for a reason. Your opinion on First Favorite Game could not matter less to New Gamer. Whether it is Draw Something or Team Fortress 2 either embrace the positives of First Favorite Game and join in or shut the hell up. The fact is New Gamer may never finish First Favorite Game as plenty of gamers come in and get obsessed with one game without ever having the desire to move on to something else. New Gamer’s ignorance is bliss at the moment. Dissing First Favorite Game by comparing it to better games (true or not) will only ruin New Gamer’s experience and you will be resented for it. Be patient.
Case Study: A familiar story of a New Gamer who had become obsessed with Angry Birds. That Guy saw an opportunity to leverage smartphone gaming into getting New Gamer to try some bigger experiences on consoles so That Guy thought it would be best to start challenging some of New Gamer’s leaderboard scores. In the end with New Gamer putting in upwards of 10 to 20 times the amount of game sessions as That Guy, New Gamer began to get burnt out and That Guy became frustrated with constant defeat and uttered the deplorable, “Let’s play a real game instead.” No game sessions have been shared since.
New Gamer may break through one day and put down First Favorite Game long enough to finally ask the fateful question, “What else should I play?” This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. It is important once again to note that the right answer has nothing to do with your personal tastes or your favorite games. You need to take into account what New Gamer really loved about First Favorite Game and find a bridge into something that feels both familiar and new at the same time. New Gamer isn’t jumping into fly your Battlefield 3 helicopter after giving into the charms of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Focus on widening New Gamer’s foundation of skills and interests a bit until you’ve built up the trust factor enough to get New Gamer into the game’s you really want to play together.
Now that New Gamer has branched out and can survive alone, it is time to actually play some multiplayer. While New Gamer has definitely come a long way that doesn’t mean multiplayer is going to be a sure fire hit. A few bad experiences and crushing defeats is all that it takes to send New Gamer running back to solo gaming for good. Whether you are seeking some competition or some cooperation, resist the urge to show off or to show New Gamer the ropes. Show New Gamer the fun first. My suggestion is to stick to local or private multiplayer before releasing New Gamer to the seedy underbelly of online multiplayer. Carefully gauge New Gamer’s progress and focus on opening new doors when the time is right. Master the basic skills while teasing the super moves before going straight to the finishers.
Keep it competitive. I’m not saying you have to lose outright, but even if New Gamer knows how good you are it is never fun to get owned every single time. This is probably the toughest balance to find as you can’t let New Gamer feel stupid or onto the fact that you are taking it easy. You are also going to screw up, and how you handle your first accidental loss could be pivotal in the maturation of New Gamer.
Case Study: The Mario Kart series has some of the best and most infuriating competitive balancing in all of video games. Gamers of all skills can compete with one another. A mastery of the basics helps, but after a certain point the playing field is balanced and the items can swing the entire match. Of course after mastering driving and items, the risk/reward of shortcuts is next. In on such session with New Gamer and Mario Kart 64, That Guy pretended to struggle with Rainbow Road and allowed New Gamer to build a huge lead. On the final lap. That Guy attempted a dramatic leaping shortcut that both enthralled and infuriated New Gamer who previously did not know the shortcut was an option at all. Fortunately, karma intervened and That Guy shorted the jump and fell to his doom and loss. New Gamer continued to seek out new shortcuts, but never trusted That Guy again.
Eventually a line will be drawn and New Gamer will lay claim to a particular genre of gaming and seek out mastery of the domain. This is the final chapter as New Gamer seeks to drop the “New” label all together. Challenge New Gamer until you yourself are challenged. Then, embrace your new compatriot as New Gamer has graduated to that of New Gaming Buddy. The best kind of gamer there is.
Don’t Be That Guy – Seriously, no one likes a stereotype and video games are full of them. In the best interest of taking gaming culture out of the shadows, we think it’s best that we leave some of these characters behind.