Trying hard to get your partner interested in a certain genre of gaming?  Perhaps this story of Brittnie’s new-found love for Marvel vs Capcom 3 will help.

I’ve never considered myself to be a great gamer, but I’m good enough to pick up a controller in a social situation and not embarrass myself.  While I’m typically drawn towards turn-based strategy games and RPGs, I still enjoy twitchy genres, like shooters or fighting games.  For the longest time, I had tried to get Brittnie into playing the Fight Night series, or Street Fighter IV, or any kind of fighting game with me, but she refused.  Her idea of a twitchy good time was a sidescroller or time-management game, and although she mildly enjoyed Guilty Gear way back in the day, fighting games just weren’t her thing. 

Fast forward to a few years and hundreds of hours of gaming later, including loads of Boom Blox, Plants vs Zombies, various “story” games (Restaurant Story, etc.), and other games that require fast reflexes, quick thinking, and instant situation assessments.  Due to this recent experience, from the moment Brittnie saw MvC3, she was interested.  Sure, she didn’t normally like fighting games, but in her own words, “this one looks badass!”.  After watching for a while, she picked up a controller, played her first MvC3 match, and was instantly hooked.  The combination of easy-to-use characters (mostly using modified moves from the Street Fighter series), flashy graphics, and a sense of being able to pick up and fight right away drew her in.  She immediately took it upon herself to practice up and get better, usually using Tron, Trish, and X-23.  Getting the combos down were a little tough for her, since she’s not used to the kind of thumb-control necessary to pull them off, but she got them soon enough.  I’d let her win sometimes, while other times I would decimate her; either way, the point was she was having fun while playing a fighting game, something she had very rarely done.

Then she started to get good.  Like, really good.

I haven’t “gone easy” on her in a while.  In fact, if anything, sometimes it seems like she’s going easy on me!  Overall, I still hold a higher win percentage, but those wins are noticeably getting less and less frequent (and by much smaller margins).  Completely unbeknown to her, she has started frame counting and even using priority to help beat her opponents (read: me and our friends.)  Note that this has happened without any study on her part outside of just playing the game…these are advanced fighting game concepts, and they’re things she has naturally picked up on just because of how much she enjoys the game.  I imagine this sort of thing will carry over into other genres, and will make her a better gamer overall. 

If you want your partner to start playing a genre that they either never have or simply refuse to play, your best bet is for it to happen organically.  Let them see you having fun playing it, preferably with other people if it’s a fighting game like MvC.  When they see how much fun you have, they will be inclined to try it out, even if it’s not something they would normally get into.  Be sure to tell them that you’ll help them figure out the control scheme, but will still fight back a bit so they can get used to the flow without the need for training wheels.  This is a fine line though, so be careful…going full-bore without them telling you they understand the dynamics isn’t the right way to do it (as I so sadly discovered with Brittnie and Diablo II). 

More than anything else, the number one thing you shouldn’t do is force it on them.  If your partner has made it clear they don’t like a particular genre of video game, don’t ask them to try one…doing so will make it seem like you don’t listen to them.  Like I said before, allow it to happen naturally.  If they see you having a really good time with it, and they’re the ones to show interest rather than you inviting them into the genre for the umpteenth time, you have a much better chance of them picking up a controller. 

Now if only I could get her into Fight Night…