Til video games do us part
March 8, 2006 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My wife, lifelong holder of contempt against video games, has suddenly expressed the desire for us to play Sims Online together! Looking for advice on this and/or similar games...

So, whether out of a desire for us to do more things at night together or maybe a succesful tv commercial ad campaign by the Sims, my wife suddenly wants us to play the Sims Online together.

This is great for me, as I'm a casual-to-serious gamer, but I'm mostly unfamiliar with the Sims Online and other things like it, like Second Life. (basically anything that doesn't have in it guns, magic, aliens, tie-fighters, or the roman empire at your command). I know most of what I know about these from reading about them here and elsewhere.

My main question is, before I blow say $80 bucks or so on two different legitmate copies of Sims Online, is it actually fun to play with another person? Can you give me examples of the kinds of things that are fun to do?

Also, if there are any other similar games that you prefer, please feel free also to suggest those. I can tell you that the things I mentioned above will not be tolerated by the wife, so stuff like WoW or Counterstrike is out of the question.

In any case, I won't blow this crazy opportunity, but any advice you can provide would be much appreciated.
posted by poppo to Computers & Internet (48 answers total)
Sims isn't multiplayer, so there isn't much point in getting two copies. You can each have a profile if you want stuff to stay separate, but isn't the whole point you play together?
posted by Orange Goblin at 11:01 AM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: Yes, we want to play together...

I see you just clearly wrote it, but let me get this straight...The Sims2 is not massively multiplayer?
posted by poppo at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: katamari damacy, the second one. not sure if it's out for the PC or just playstation. i hate shooting / spaceship / magical elf games, and my goddaughter and i have gotten many hours of entertainment out of the first game, but i hear the second one is better and has a better multiplayer mode.
posted by luriete at 11:06 AM on March 8, 2006

Well, there is The Sims Online.
posted by Good Brain at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2006

Sims 2 is a single-player game.
posted by Jairus at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: Ah, yes surely we are talking about the Sims Online!
posted by poppo at 11:11 AM on March 8, 2006

Poppo, the Sims2 is not a multiplayer game.

The Sims Online (note the different title) is.

I played the Sims Online for a short while... it has its moments of fun but also definitely has its faults. I also suspect that since the game has been out for so long and the number of subscribers, naturally, has dropped, that EA is no longer pumping that many resources into new elements of the game. In short, it can get boring really quickly.

The Sims 2 as a fun single-player game though is something I would definitely recommend though.
posted by elkerette at 11:12 AM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: The Sims 2 is a great game, that even though it isn't multiplayer you can easily have fun with it. It would involve playing at the same PC (only need one copy) though.

I would not recommend The Sims Online as it is quite dated and more of a graphical chat room than anything else. Second Life is also more for people interested in creating in game objects than playing to any certain objective.

Sims 2 also has 3 expansions that I would recommend if you find yourself enjoying Sims 2.
posted by Ateo Fiel at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2006

Mod note: changed sims2 to sims online at poppo's request
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2006

The biggest problem I find with this the fact that I've been playing video games since I was 5, my wife hardly at all. Whenever we attempt to play something, I usually wipe the board with her or she realizes I'm not trying as hard as I can and she gets aggravated. She's not dumb (she wipes the floor with me on any trivia game and any argument) but it's just I've played so many games I have a significant advantage over her. Puzzle or adventure games she likes or gets really good at generally aren't multiplayer.

The Mario Party games seem to be the exception; while I do have a bit of a leg up on some of the games involved, overall it seems pretty even.
posted by kraagenskul at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: The Sims 2 is not multiplayer, but it is a shared world game; the sims you make when you play in your account will be visible in your wife's account, and anyone can play with sim. I.e. only one person at a time in the sandbox, but the sandbox persists. I've seen couples enjoy games like this (such as Animal Crossing).

I haven't played the Sims Online but I can't really think it's what you're looking for from what I know. Second Life is not a game at all: imagine visual IRC with a money problem. In general I don't think there are MMOs that would appeal beause all MMOs have the basic formula of "repeat tedious behaviors to get tiny tiny rewards" game structure not suitable for non-gamer wives. But who knows maybe she'll like it...

The last good recommendation I had like this was for the smashemup racing game Burnout. Good luck finding a game.
posted by fleacircus at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: I would suggest puzzle pirates. It is a fun, multiplayer game.
posted by necessitas at 11:42 AM on March 8, 2006

I second Puzzle Pirates! I played for awhile but quit because I got tired of the fee. But I'm sure I'll take it up again.
posted by agregoli at 12:23 PM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: I'll go a little bit outside the box and recommend Perplex City, which is a massive multiplayer puzzle game using cards.
posted by Hildago at 12:30 PM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: My wife and I play World Of Warcraft (WoW) together. And I know several couples who also play together. You won't have any trouble finding guilds which are run by couples, or are very supportive of couples.

In my humble opinion, if you want to try online gaming, or playing games together with your spouse, WoW is the best by far.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2006

I'd steer her away from Sims Online. I've read nothing but bad reviews. You won't like it, and neither will she, and she'll never have this sudden urge to share your hobby with you again.

I really don't know what you could find though. My GF likes some games from time to time, but never for more then a week. Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon, and that was about it. If she wants to be nearby when I'm doing computer stuff, she tends to play solitare or do some scrapbooking. She used to watch TV on the other computer before the ATI AiW card died.
posted by Phynix at 1:36 PM on March 8, 2006

On Preview: Yeah, I know a couple that plays WoW together, and the girl was not a gamer perviously, and probably still doesn't consider herself a gamer. You really can't tell though, my GF tried it but didn't like it. I don't think there is a trial available, so it'll be expensive to find out.
posted by Phynix at 1:38 PM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: I highly recommend Lego Star Wars. It has varying types of gameplay, allows you to play through the plots of all the movies, and also lets one player drop in and out easily. (And it takes away the pain of the real movies because young Darth Vader as a Lego is so much more tolerable.)

My boyfriend and I don't play online games well together, but we really enjoyed the Star Wars game. The drop in/drop out gameplay really helps if one player gets frustrated with the gameplay, they can leave the game for a few minutes, the other player finishes the annoying part, and then the 2nd player can pop right back in.

Also, you're going to be unlikely to play 'better' than she does, simply because each character has different abilities and weaknesses that can be used in different ways in the levels (and you can easily swap during gameplay between 4-5 characters in a level.)

I do not, however, recommend the Baldur's Gate or EQ 2-player console games, because if either of you is a loot hog, you'll just end up fighting. I learned this the hard way.
posted by idigress at 1:40 PM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: I can't vouch for or against them, but There and Moove are competitors to Second Life in the 3D IRC realm.
posted by Skwirl at 2:10 PM on March 8, 2006

Dunno if these titles are of any interest, but anything in the exploring genre (if it is a genre!) is always fun - things like Donkey Kong or Jak and Daxter (mostly for the latest Playstation) are hugely fun, not violent (unless someone using a peanut-popping gun is violent) and nice to look at. MarioCart and any of the Mario line of fine games will do as well. None of these are much like the Sims type of games, but fun none the less. Even the SimCity original game is fun.

hehe, idigress - I know what you mean about the loot hogs (not me, honest!), especially in Baldur's Gate. Damn those hogs!
posted by rmm at 2:10 PM on March 8, 2006

I have recommended Lego Star Wars to two other similar "girl suddenly wants to play computer games with boy" threads - based on my own experience of a non-game playing girlfriend who got rather into it. It's the teamwork that makes it, for me - each character has different skills and you need to work together to progress. It's a really fun game.
posted by greycap at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2006

Best answer: FYI: Online games wrecked my marriage.

Be very, very careful.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2006

My wife and I have enjoyed playing some of the Myst games together, bouncing ideas off each other and teaming up to solve the more difficult puzzles. Nice to have that shared sense of accomplishment when we figure something out. No guns, aliens, or Roman Empires.
posted by Dean King at 3:04 PM on March 8, 2006

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo totally got me laid. It's pretty competitive though, but you can take turns against the compy for starters. It's horribly addictive, and somewhat rare for a PS1 game.

It really depends on the gamer. I'm gonna make some broad generalizations for a sec. And by that I mean generalizations about broads.

I find women like puzzle/logic games, word games (my mom is a literati addict), sandbox games, and naratives. SPF2T listed above and Devil Dice immediately spring to mind in the puzzle realm. Narative games like Myst, Syberia and even the Final Fantasy games can keep them intrested for a bit if htey have a good enough storyline. As for sandbox games... I dunno, Sim City used to be a hit.

The problem with most of the types of games I've listed is that they aren't really all that cooperative, which is kinda the point.

Good luck! This is a great problem to have!
posted by butterstick at 6:12 PM on March 8, 2006

I'll third the recommendation for Puzzle Pirates. If she likes puzzle games, that's where the skill element comes from in puzzle pirates - mini games that are similar to alchemy, bejewelled, etc, so it's at least as likely she'll wipe the floor with you in that environment.

As adults, I recommend you try the Midnight server just because the median age there is higher. When you sign up, it'll bounce you to one of four oceans/servers, but you can change immediately on the log on screen.

On Midnight (the most established ocean), and Cobalt, you can play a limited version of the game for free forever, and to get access to the full game, you have to pay a subscription fee. On Viridian and Sage, everyone plays the essential game for free, but you can buy individual components of it via a micropayment system.

I've been playing Y!PP for a couple of years at this point. It's a highly social engaging social environment and a hell of a lot of fun. There are competitive aspects - you could challenge each other head to head to swordfights or drinking matches - and cooperative aspects - you could work together to run a ship to defeat brigands (PvE) or other players. There are also puzzle games you can just play that aren't really against anybody.

If you decide to play, look me up, my character name there is the same as my user name here.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:12 PM on March 8, 2006

I can recommend There. It's primarily a social game but there's other stuff to do as well: paintball, racing in dune buggies, hoverboarding, exploring, quests. You can also design stuff similar to SecondLife: clothing, vehicles, homes and decor.
posted by deborah at 7:59 PM on March 8, 2006

my significant other and i sit side by side on two seperate computers and play WoW together. i myself have always been a gamer but i run across alot of other girls ingame that have never really been that into video games for the same sorts of reasons as you mention your wife isnt interested. yes there is killing but it is mostly a survival type killing.. to eat or to make a living rather than the outlandish blood shed that you see in alot of other video games. my main character is a druid who's main purpose is to heal my party, and i spend alot of my time crafting things to sell for cool new armor. i think that as far as online games it is the best for a non gamer.

as far as Sims goes.. i enjoy sims 2, and can definitely see it being alot of fun to do with someone.. i would recommend giving that a shot if she is completely against WoW and has an interest in Sims. Ive heard terrible things about the online game.. and personally dont see much point to it. what i like about sims is the character creation and builing the house more than anything else.. meeting other people online on Sims seems a little too like real life and not like a game.

but i hope you find something you both enjoy. i know here in my home video games is a true joy for us together. but at the same time if she isnt into it than there is no changing that. you could always just get her a gameboy DS and let her play hours of Meteos.
posted by trishthedish at 9:18 PM on March 8, 2006

I am a wife who is now hooked on WoW. I can say that even though this has magic/killing, it would be a great start for her. There are so many other facets to this game besides just attacking monsters and casting spells that it may very well appeal to her. One of my favorite things is creating new clothing items (tailoring profession) and making money (gold) in the Auction House (a WoW version of Ebay). My husband and I play side by side and really enjoy passing the time this way, as well as completing Quests to level our characters. WoW has beautiful detailed environments and a lively social atmosphere.
I think you should seriously consider it.
posted by snotloc at 11:21 PM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: Hey all thanks for the great advice, especially ironing out the difference between Sims2 and SimsOnline. Here is the short list based on all your recommendations:

Sims2 as a one-at-a-time co-op
Yahoo Puzzle Pirates
Perplex City
Lego Star Wars

As I much as I would love to play WoW or Lego SW with her, I don't want to take advantage of her first urge to game with me by pushing her into a game that I would prefer. Yet, at the same time, I want to choose a fun game for her first time out, so she has the urge to come back for more and try new stuff.

For these reasons, I will probably start us out as suggested above in co-op type play in Sims2. Several people above said it was fun, and this way it won't seem to her like I'm steering her towards a game that I want to play.

Hopefully we'll enjoy the Sims2 together, and I can slowly ease her into some Katamari or even (dare to dream!) WoW.

For best answers, I just chose the first mention of each of the games as well as some miscellaneous advice
posted by poppo at 6:10 AM on March 9, 2006

On the fee structure of Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates....

This is based off of information found on the game wiki some players(?) set up, as of a few months ago.

There are two kinds of "oceans," or game worlds, available to play on. There are "subscription" oceans, which charge a fee monthly for full access, and there are "doubloon" oceans, which have a radically different pricing plan that, unlike as stated above, do not necessarily mean you have to pay anything. Since each plan has its own game worlds, you'll never end up meeting people who are on the other plan in your game unless you have characters in more than one of them.

Doubloon oceans have an additional form of currency, besides the normal "pieces of eight," called, appropriately, doubloons. The interesting thing about doubloons is that practically all of them (all except a very small number given out as prizes by the maintainers) have been paid for using real-world cash, they are only summoned into existance at all when a player somewhere buys them from the game with dollars and cents. Once they exist in the world, however, they can be traded for other things, including pieces of eight. Some "badges" and equipment carry a doubloon cost, in addition to a possible piece-of-eight cost.

This means that there's an exchange rate of pieces of eight to doubloons, and if you want a leg up in the game you can get that by buying doubloons yourself, then selling them in-game. Of course, people doing that will drive the price of doubloons down. Conversely, there are people who want to just not pay to play the game at all, and will get all their doubloons by trade for pieces of eight. That drives their value up, of course.

It's an interesting system, at least, and it opens up the possibility that you'll be able to play something that could be termed the "full game" without paying a cent.
posted by JHarris at 6:28 AM on March 9, 2006

My girlfriend's engaged roommates have recently begun playing a lot of SSX World Tour on the playstation together, this is in direct response to the many hours a day husband-to-be was spending playing puzzle pirates. So if you go that route, be careful, the puzzle pirates cutlass cuts both ways.
posted by jrb223 at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2006

I second Katamari. I'm in the same boat as kraagenskul's girlfriend. My boyfriend has been gaming for years and years, and I have a fraction of the skills he does. I like to play video games, but it gets discouraging when I have no chance of even competeting, let alone winning.

I really like puzzle games, so we've played a lot of old nintendo/supernintendo games- dr. mario, yoshi's cookie, and, of course, tetris.

Fighting games are easy to pick up, and Marvel v. Capcom is probably my favorite.

Other things that are usually easy for me to learn are driving games, and I looove Mario Kart (even the N64 version).

I have to give a big reccomendation for Katamari Damacy as well, I play it for hours on end now. We <3 katamari is even better, because the controls are a little easier than the first and i find that the levels are more interesting and dynamic than the first (collectiong all the cousins and the presents, etc)br>
Recently, my boyfriend has tried to teach me to play a few more games. We tried Halo, and I'm terrible at the controls because I've never played a game like that before, but we had a lot of fun just playing around and laughing at me trying to get a hang of the contols.

As for an MMORPG, I'd reccomend City of Heros/Villians. The character creators were enough to keep me busy for a while, but the game was a lot of fun too. We haven't played together yet (I've just played with his copy ocassionaly),but I'd be interested in trying.

The comments other people have posted are really good so far. Happy gaming.
posted by nuclear_soup at 8:38 AM on March 9, 2006

Maybe too late, but here's my suggestion:

Buy a Nintendo DS and a copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World. Move into a town with your wife. Let the fun ensue. My girlfriend and I have been playing together for months now and always have a great time.

(Plus there are a lot of current and upcoming games for the DS with a lot of crossover appeal for casual-ish gamers: Mario Kart DS, Princess Peach, Bust-a-Move, Tetris, etc. So it's a good investment overall.)
posted by aparrish at 9:52 AM on March 9, 2006

I might second the suggestion of Animal Crossing: Wild World. You can buy your wife all sorts of neat presents and leave her love letters!
posted by Bryan Behrenshausen at 3:11 PM on March 9, 2006

If you end up playing competitive games, consider giving yourself a handicap so that you aren't dominating her while still trying your hardest within the handicap. For example, let her use the rocket launcher while you can only use the pistol.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:20 PM on March 9, 2006

It's a console game, but for sheer blissed-out gaming pleasure I really recommend SSX 3 and SSX On Tour. SSX 3 is more laid back, SSX On Tour a bit adolescent, but either way you can just dial up freeride and board/ski the mountain from top to bottom. The graphics are stunning and it's extremely relaxing. Of course you can also get all competitive if you want to.
posted by unSane at 4:11 PM on March 9, 2006

World of Warcraft has to be the best game to try here I think. Don't let the "war" part put you off - your missus will be fine with it I reckon. Women generally suck at videogames, but WoW is easy so she should have no trouble.

It's good fun, give it a shot.
posted by winjer at 1:49 AM on March 10, 2006

For games that girls want to play I'd reccomend both the Nintendo DS (now in pink) but also the GameCube. The DS has a great variety of engaging games with easy learning curves - Animal Crossing is frequently and rightly praised but Mario Kart DS is also a fun game to play against a friend, with the bonus' tending to even things out for those who don't play a lot of driving games.

Donkey Konga on the GC (complete with one or two sets of mini bongo drum "controllers") is a fantastic multiplayer, although it's more in the realm of playing for minutes than hours. The GC is rather out of fashion now so you can get it on the cheap, I picked up a new one along with a set of bongo drums and a copy of the game for £60 over year ago.

"Women generally suck at videogames, but WoW is easy"

Oh come on, if you're trying to troll you can do better than that.
posted by hugsnkisses at 2:48 AM on March 10, 2006

(I'd also recommend it.)
posted by hugsnkisses at 2:49 AM on March 10, 2006

We Love Katamari is a fantastic game that your wife would probably love, but the co-op mode is frustrating and probably not a great introduction. You control the game using the two analog sticks, and in co-op mode, it's as if you're in charge of one analog stick and she's in charge of the other. Be warned, is all.

The GameCube has a lot of games that are built for multiplayer. Something like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon would be a fantastic, nonviolent endeavor for a couple. For a while I was helping my sister out with a farm. We're not close, really, but it was our longest stretch of quality time since we had summer vacations and Sega Genesis. Seriously, check it out.

Otherwise, World of Warcraft could be great, if she'll bite.
posted by sixacross at 7:31 AM on March 10, 2006

haha after reading some of this i am amazed at how many people on here think that women need special learning curves to be able to play video games.

the issue is interest.
posted by trishthedish at 7:13 PM on March 10, 2006

No votes for A Tale In The Desert? Fun and collaborative.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:51 AM on March 11, 2006

My husband and I play City of Heroes & City of Villains together. We know several couples who play together as well. It's not your typical FPS -- I really, really dislike FPS just because it feels stupid to me -- the character gen is really awesome, and it's fairly easy to find a SuperGroup (guild) to play with. WoW I didn't like as much, FWIW, and if she's into StarWars, maybe Star Wars Galaxies, but SWG has more of the FPS feel to it (I think) and I grew tired of it really quickly.

I didn't game before I met my husband, so this is something he's introduced me to. CoH sometimes offers sort of "long weekend" free trials to members who want to introduce the game to their friends. We don't have an announcement yet, but they may do one over Memorial Day weekend; email me if you think you might be interested in a free trial, and I will keep my ears peeled. If you guys do try out the game and she likes it; great -- if not, there's nothing lost at all. It can be a ton of fun, as long as both people are involved (which it sounds like you guys would both be).

BTW, regarding the learning curve -- once you learn the logic of gaming, there IS no learning curve. CoH has the advantage of being a little more obvious with the tutorial and by the time she leaves the inital learning section, there won't be a lot left to know except how to use the trains and just random stuff about the zones.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:12 AM on March 11, 2006

haha after reading some of this i am amazed at how many people on here think that women need special learning curves to be able to play video games.

I don't think all women need a learning curve to play video games, but the question asked specifically for games for a woman who hasn't played many games. I think everyone's suggestions can be applied to people of either gender who are looking for fun, easy-to-master games.
posted by nuclear_soup at 12:23 PM on March 12, 2006

My apologies to everyone else, but there is only one correct answer to this question: Nintendo DS. Good co-op games: Animal Crossing (yes, you have to get two copies -- it's worth it.), Mario Kart, and Meteos.

Note: I tried for months to interest my girlfriend in computer games we could play cooperatively, but really didn't have much success until the DS. It is undiluted fun, and makes cooperative gaming very, very easy.

The only downside is the necessary periodic investment in new games...and of course, those accursed red shells.
posted by Kikkoman at 5:38 PM on March 15, 2006

This may not be quite what you have in mind, but my boyfriend loves video games and I never liked a single one until we got Dance Dance Revolution and Karaoke Revolution. Now I'm completely hooked, especially on Karaoke. DDR doubles as exercise, too.
posted by piers at 8:52 PM on March 15, 2006

My non-gaming girlfriend got hooked on Civilization III. Go figure.
posted by danb at 9:44 PM on March 21, 2006

My non-gamer wife pretty much only loves two games: Tetris and Bust-A-Move (aka Puzzle Bobble).
posted by waxpancake at 11:17 PM on March 21, 2006

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