Are Games too complex for new gamers?

If you read my last post you already know that I’m a bit of a newbie gamer.  I went from being pretty much entirely oblivious to games, to realising that actually, gaming is rather awesome and does not have to entail sitting alone staring at a screen, surrounded by Red Bull and empty pizza boxes.  And having realised that I’m keen to do two things: catch up on some great games, and spread my newfound love to others (my 5 year old niece is now a fan of Zelda and Mario, and will probably be a much better gamer than I am before long).

But, going from never gaming to playing a ds, Wii and PS3 wasn’t the easiest transition.  Gamers tend to take a lot of things for granted – the most basic example?  You know where the buttons are on your controller.  I didn’t have a clue!  Trying to play a game while glancing between the control manual, the controller, and the screen is a pretty frustrating experience.  By the time you’ve established the right buttons in the right combination, either you’ve been shot in the head, or the person you wanted to shoot has disappeared!  And that is pretty much a summary of my first attempts at playing Red Dead Redemption.

Gamers also know a lot of controls, or things to look out for intuitively.  For someone who hasn’t gamed before, nothing is intuitive.  The first time I played Uncharted (a game for which I have some serious love), I thought I was getting the hang of things.  I no longer needed to look at the controller to know where the buttons were, I realised that convenient barrels filled with gun powder should probably be shot…I completely forgot that looking for treasure was also part of the game, and got halfway through it before realising that if something sparkles, you should walk towards it.  I then spent the other half of the game hunting for ‘glinties’, and feeling outraged when I’d risk my life for what turned out to be ‘sunlight’ rather than treasure.

I’m now at the stage where some things are intuitive, and I have recently completed three boss fights on the first attempt.  I realise for some of you that means nothing, for me – that is a big deal!  I have gone from being entirely clueless, to being able to anticipate what comes next, and get through boss fights without trying four or five times.  So what’s my point?  If you’re trying to get a friend into gaming, try to remember how much you actually know, and be patient with them as they figure it out.  Steer them towards games you think they’ll enjoy, their new favourite game may not be the same as yours, but the frustration of learning how to play is eased a lot by discovering games you genuinely love.

And if anyone has any games suggestions for the newbie, or anything you’d like to hear about from my perspective, suggestions are welcome :)