Please help me find a video game for my girlfriend and I
January 5, 2013 5:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for games that I (a lifelong gamer) can play with my long-distance girlfriend (almost zero gaming experience). Special snowflake details inside.

One of my principal hobbies is videogames, and I'd like to share that with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, she and I are long-distance for the foreseeable future, which brings in some additional complications.

Personally, I have played games for 20 years and a significant amount of my current leisure time with videogames. This is part of the problem: I can think of a lot of options, but it's difficult for me to understand what will be difficult for her. For example, I've been playing Dungeon Defenders recently, and for me WASD + mouse, tower defense, and gear/level advancement are just facts of life. For her, I can imagine that that would make getting into things very difficult, and I'm scared that if I mess up the choice too badly, it'll make it harder in the future.

I'm looking here for Windows games or Flash games that can be played over the internet. Preferably free, but otherwise something low-cost would be nice.

Some preferences that she has expressed/some history she has:
  • She has a very low tolerance for violence. Her aversions here are sometimes unpredictable (for example, I'm not sure if she'd consider something with cartoonish violence against non-human monsters distasteful), but something like Assassin's Creed or realistic FPS are way out of the question.
  • Games that are competitive are going to be tough sells--I am very good at videogames in general, and she will be hard-pressed to win very much. We have played Super Mario Kart together and there was a lot of holding back on my part, which made it somewhat unenjoyable for me.
  • Her previous experiences with videogames have mostly been watching boyfriends play and feeling very ignored, so I'd like to avoid games which I might accidentally "take over" things and she'd become a passive observer. I can watch out for this in myself, but it's in my nature to do so, and I'd like a game which didn't allow it.
  • She is very good at and enjoys word games a lot. If there was a co-op version of Bookworm Adventures, that would be ideal, but sadly I don't know of any such thing. Competitive word games might be doable, except there the situation is reversed, where she is great and I am terrible, and that is no fun for me--I'd much rather play games with people with comparable skill levels, in either direction.
Thanks so much for your help.
posted by TypographicalError to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The co-op mode in Portal 2 is a lot of fun, non-violent, and non-competitive.
posted by twblalock at 5:41 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I would go with twblalock's suggestion for Portal 2 if you want something that's co-op.

Another interesting thing could always be for you guys to skype and share screen and have her watch you play something single player that's point and click so she'll feel more involved?

Some suggestions would be like Curse of Monkey Island and deponia. Basically any puzzle/adventure game.
posted by Trinergy at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2013

I was going to suggest Portal 2 as well.

Although is costs $, Minecraft is one of the absolute best games for non-gamers, and has all the elements you're looking for, and you can set the hardness to her liking (I prefer easy, personally).
posted by DoubleLune at 5:50 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You should look into some of the games in xbla, psn. Coop tower defense games, trials hd, happy wars, castle crashers... There's probably something that will fit your bill. Some of those high profile games try too hard to be realistic, the live arcades are much better in that respect.

Also would look into puzzle games in general (puzzle quest, etc) and sports games.
posted by Muu at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2013

Another interesting thing could always be for you guys to skype and share screen and have her watch you play something single player that's point and click so she'll feel more involved?

Some suggestions would be like Curse of Monkey Island and deponia. Basically any puzzle/adventure game.

I really like this idea, but I've never used Skype in this way before--does the screen sharing actually cooperate well with video games?
posted by TypographicalError at 6:03 PM on January 5, 2013

what about phone/tablet games? theres a bunch like 'words with friends' and etc that are awesome for relay play (ie taking turns when u get a chance, not necessarily playing at the same time)...there's any number of board games on the android/apple markets that would be ideal...mainly I was thinking about "DrawSomething"'s basically pictionary, and has the added benefit of being able to scrawl a handwritten 'Love U' on your drawings when u feel the need ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:33 PM on January 5, 2013

NATURAL SELECTION TWO hahaha I am le funny.

(ps hi typo, what up)

Tough question sir.

Too bad scribblenauts doesn't have a coop mode. You could maybe gift her Dear Esther and/or To The Moon. They're single player but might give her an appreciation for what the medium can do. I'm sure playing Journey together would be fun, but that would require two PS3s and I think the MP is entirely anonymous.

Other than that, yeah, look through the popcap catalogue for some coop stuff.

And good luck!
posted by kavasa at 8:30 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

2nding Portal 2 and puzzle games like the last Zork that came out, Monkey Island, Grim Fandago, etc. if you can screen share. also I think the classic game Worms is available in 2 player over network and its turn based and a cartoonish worm war, IIRC, not sudden jarring shooting (I don't like violent or scary games either. I'm really jumpy.)
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:08 PM on January 5, 2013

I came here to say Minecraft too. If the cartoon monsters are too much you can always set it to peaceful or just play on creative mode.
posted by Melsky at 11:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Portal 2 is excellent, just watch yourself for using her as a remote drone, ordering her around with the "look here" command. It's very easy to end up being all "Look, shhh, just, I know how to do this one, look, I can't show you just stand here". Maybe take turns per level on who is the "lead" for solving the puzzle (obviously handing off if you get stumped) and be sure to voice-chat lots, talking through the puzzles.

Myself and the mrs were also crazy for the earlier versions of Worms, which involves teeny tiny worms blasting eachother with bazookas, exploding sheep, etc. If you are on xbox I've quite enjoyed Ms. Splosionman which is dorky (cartoon violence), loud, flashy fun. Also: shoes.

Gaming through Steam is probably going to be the most cost effective solution for you guys, and perhaps a good gateway drug there would be board-games. I just spend the evening playing Ticket to Ride. Otherwise, searching for casual gameplay co-op in their store puts up various interesting things like this lemmingsesque game, Clones and of course Puzzle Pirates which is like if PopCap had an mmo. Last but not least, check the trailer for Trine 2. See if the fighting aspects are too violent, cos otherwise I think it could be a killer app for you guys. Show her the video and see what she thinks, there's so much good looking fun before the fight bits show up that she might already be sold by then.
posted by Iteki at 7:09 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I lived in a house with lots of gamers, the game that really converted me was Animal Crossing. It's a shared world, but no overt goals. You can cooperate or help each other if you like, but since there's nothing you have to do, it's not a big deal either way. (It's available on a few platforms, in slightly different versions.)

I've also enjoyed playing Mist, Monkey Island, and Katamari Damacy, but I don't remember them well enough to know how good they would be played together. (I don't enjoy competitive games or realistic violence either.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:01 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Trine 2 has a great co-op mode, BEAUTIFUL graphics, and is mostly puzzle based. Also has integrated voice chat. My husband and I are really enjoying it.
posted by WowLookStars at 9:32 AM on January 6, 2013

Sorry, got distracted and forgot about to finish my comment.

If you guys like board games, Ticket to Ride online (i have the steam version) is also fun, though you will be playing against each other (plus whatever bots or other people you add)

Seconding minecraft. So much fun!
posted by WowLookStars at 9:36 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

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