There are many things that cross the generational gap and bring families together. Movies, sports, TV, holidays, music, you name it. Somehow videogames have never fully made their way into the category of family entertainment. Sure the Nintendo Wii has done an admirable job at making games that are geared towards the family, but why can’t it go the other way? Why aren’t families being more open minded to games?
I have personally watched as my family went from dissociating themselves with games completely to becoming avid gamers (I know right?). Far more astonishing than that is the fact that we can’t stand the Wii and will most likely never buy one, which means my family changed, not the games. Yes there are games like Peggle and Zuma on the Xbox and PS3 (Peggle fan right here) but we don’t even play those genres as a family.
It all started a little over 2 years ago with an almost indie game called Portal. I was a young lad (a senior in high school…bleh) when I learned some startling news: My grandmother, who I will refer to later as Nanny (don’t pick), had played and beaten Portal. My grandma, who is level 50+ (no I don’t know her exact age…) had started a game and finished it. Little did I know Portal would be a gateway (intended) game for her. And boy did it get the ball rolling.
A short 2 years later and Nanny has beaten more than 12 titles including Portal 2, Mass Effect 2 and 3, Halo: Anniversary, 3 and Reach, and Half-life 2, Half-life 2 Episode 1, and Half-life 2 Episode 2. All with little or no assistance. And now she is getting into Assassin’s Creed II. She has beaten games I haven’t played.
My grandmother’s development from videogame opponent to avid social gamer was swift and unexpected to say the least. But now the most amazing things have started happening. My mother got an N64 for her birthday in January. My grandpa has expressed a lot of interest in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III. Suddenly my family has become a gaming community of its own. Last night I sat down with my uncle, my little brother, and my grandma and we played Halo: Reach for almost 2 hours. And we didn’t play campaign, we played deathmatch.
This entire scenario has opened my eyes. If my grandparents can express interest and/or beat triple-A titles, then anybody can. The industry doesn’t need to cater to us. If we just opened our minds to the possibility that videogames might be one of the best social stimuli in the world, there would be nothing to stop the fever. They would become a part of our everyday lives (more-so for me). All it would take is a little more curiosity.
So go and make your family try something. You know what they like. Set your puzzle loving family members with something like Portal. If you have little bros (or sisters) that play war, let them play Halo. If you have some critical thinkers or leaders show them Mass Effect and watch them drool. I think we are on the edge of a revolution. It just needs a little push.