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If you are like many people, you have friends that just don't understand gaming. There are a few variants to non-gamers; some of them can be great candidates for gaming conversion. How do you convince a person that has no interest in gaming to play games? Similar to the way you became a gamer yourself, slowly and patiently. Hardcore game fanatics may have taken to gaming quickly, addictively and without very much persuasion. However, this isn't your typical gamer and hardcore gamers do not make up the majority of the video game demographic. The standard hardcore gamer is very vocal and passionate about their hobby so it is easy to presume all game fans fit this archetype. There are a few motivating reasons for gamers to attempt to persuade others to love their hobby as they do themselves. First, gamers want others to enjoy the rewards of gaming and try relentlessly to convince others about the benefits of being an avid gaming fan. Secondly, gamers want to grow their circle of local gaming friends because they've been turned off by obnoxious game players on the Internet. Lastly, gamers that married a non-gaming partner want their loved one to understand why they game so much and for them to share in the fun. The first step to enticing a new game addict is to understand how a common gamer grabs personal interest in the hobby. Most people do not jump into gaming at a highly advanced level with intense action games - they start simple. Do not expect your friend or loved one to power on an Xbox 360 and start playing Gears of War, this isn't a typical path to building a gamer. Many games exist that target the casual gaming demographic. Gaming history shows casual games as being some of the most desired products in the gaming industry. Not too long ago casual games were hot sellers because that was all a game system could handle - the complexities of today's gaming environment could not be processed on early console and PC systems. Statistics show many of today's gamers are getting older, averaging 32 years of age. If a 32 year old gamer started gaming as a kid that would date their gaming experiences to the early 1980's. A console or PC from the 1980's almost always catered to causal "simple" games because that's all they could handle. Older gamers started off with casual games like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Breakout, Pong and other hit classics. Some of us got the gaming bug from the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), playing simplified games like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong and Duck Hunt. As time passed we increased our level of difficulty and purchased Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Contra, Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda. We started slow, grew in intensity and before long we were game addicts. Today we are in the seventh-generation of gaming. This generation includes such systems as the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Competition for the gaming market
is hot and each system is vying for your gaming dollar. Each generation releases larger games boasting more hours of play, graphically stunning 3D environments, Dolby Digital Surround Sound and complex control schemes. The barrier to entry has never been larger for a non-gamer. To entice a gamer into our seventh-generation of gaming we must start simple as we ourselves did so many years ago. The older the non-gamer the more difficult it will be to break their stereotypical view of "a gamer." We must teach them that it's not all first-person shooting bloody gun battles. Not all gamers want to shoot aliens. A non-gamer may have a short gaming attention span so you must hook them slowly and use repetition to bring them around to your ways of thinking. There are two battlefronts to attack: The home console system and the Macintosh/PC. Do not allow your own gaming style to affect games you persuade them to play. Keep an open mind and allow them to explore their own gaming habits, be patient and keep a close eye on what games they react to the best. A casual game may be something as simple as solitaire, sudoku, hearts, minesweeper or FreeCell. The next level of complexity will be Tetris, Zuma, Feeding Frenzy and more complex puzzle or side-scrolling adventure games. If you're target non-gamer enjoys a few hands of solitaire or hearts they've already got the bug for gaming and you just have to supply them with the next level of games to explore their curiosity. Perhaps start them on a larger game of Texas Hold'em if they're intense card players. The Internet can assist you in your cause, supplying you and you're non-gamer with Web Games which mimic early arcade games and simple adventures. PopCap games (http://www.popcap.com/) leads in the effort to attract the casual gamer. Microsoft's Gaming Zone (http://zone.msn.com) is another magnet to casual gamers. These casual games may be the worm on the hook for your non-gamer. You have to wait for the bobber to dip before reeling them in. Be patient and let them explore a few of the games. If they do not know where to start, lead them to a few simple games and see how they react. If you're willing to invest some money into your goal, consider the Nintendo DS hand-held device or the Nintendo Wii console. These two systems are designed for the casual gamer. Many hardcore gamers call them "kid gaming systems" and that is perfect for your cause. People confuse "kid games" with "casual games" on a regular basis because these are games a hardcore gamer played when they were a kid - just when they got hooked. To build your perfect gamer you want to consider the roots to becoming a hardcore gamer: easy to play games. Sticking with the fishing analogy, consider the library of games for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii your tackle box. Some fish like a specific lure more then others, some fish will take any lure and sometimes you need a special lure for a special fish. You will find the same true for gamers; some gamers are attracted to all games while certain gamers will play a specific genre. Games that will hook a non-gamer follow the same design as the games that got you into gaming. Games like the Nintendo DS's New Super Mario Brothers, Tetris DS, Magnetica DS, Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Animal Crossing and other like games. Try to avoid games like Castlevania, Final Fantasy III DS, and Madden 07 until you notice their comfortable with the basic games. You want simple gameplay that can be performed in short bursts of time, simple game controls, little to
no game plot and games looking more 2D than 3D in perspective. If you're lucky to find a Nintendo Wii in stores you can pickup a few games to explore your nongamers horizons. Try a few innovative games like Elebits, Wii Sports, and the soon-to-be released WarioWare: Smooth Moves. This system also allows you to pickup a few games that suit your own interests like Zelda: Twilight Princess. Hardcore gamers may already own a seventh-generation console like the Xbox 360. If you own this console and you want to attract your non-gaming friends and family you should make use of the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). This environment is as close to "arcade" as you will get on a seventh-generation console environment. Many gamers avidly remember the days of the arcade but our non-gaming counterparts may have never walked into a real arcade. This is your chance to bring them back into your past. XBLA offers a few classic video games like Pac-Man, Contra and Frogger, but offers new unique titles like Marble Madness and Zuma. As is true with most causal Web Games, you have the ability to trial the games, which allow you to pick and choose from XBLA. Trialing a game allows you to judge the interest of your non-gamer before investing further cash into their conversion. A video game hobby is not much different than reading a novel to pass the time. Remember, before you learn to read a novel you probably started reading board books and short stories. This same procedure can be used to build up a non-gamers interest in game plots and stories. You may start with a short puzzle game like PopCap's BookWorm Adventures before you move into a deeper story like Final Fantasy XII for the PlayStation 2 or Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS. Most people cannot go from board book to trilogy overnight, be patient with your growing nongamer as they explore their own interests. It may take a few months or even a few years before you've persuaded a non-gamer that playing video games isn't all "wasting time." Rejoice in small victories and be happy when you see them pickup a Nintendo DS or console joystick on their own to play a few minutes of their favorite game.
Jennifer and Derrick Schommer are gaming enthusiasts that write many gaming articles. They decided to take their passion to the next level and started an online gaming ecommerce site at http://www.techdiversions.com Keep up with their blog at [http://www.techdiversions.com/blog]
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