So I've been playing a lot of Nintendo Land recently. For those who are unaware, Nintendo Land is essentially the Wii U's answer to Wii Sports - a few great mini-games sitting alongside a few mediocre ones, intended to introduce the player to the mechanics of the Wii U's touchscreen controller. If not entirely worth a full retail release price tag, Nintendo Land at least does what it says on the tin and acts as a fun, charming instruction manual for Nintendo's new console.
But while Nintendo Land and Wii Sports are both intended to introduce players to a console which features an entirely original control scheme, I wondered, what would be the best way to introduce an oblivious bystander to the medium of video games in general? What if someone had never owned a SNES, or a Sega Genesis/Megadrive, or even a PlayStation 2? How would you get them to share your enjoyment of your hobby?
Who doesn't play video games?!
The first problem with hypothesising introducing a newcomer to video games is trying to think of someone who doesn't play video games. Even those who don't own an Xbox 360 are busy flicking irate birds across the screens of their iPhones, or farting away their lives on FarmVille. To devise this hypothetical gaming virgin, we must think outside of the box and ask ourselves…
How would we introduce an alien to video games?
Considering that aliens spend most of their days developing death rays and pissing off our farmers by using their crops as makeshift parking spaces, you'd think that they'd probably be able to handle a few games of Domination on Black Ops II. However, as there is no Wi-Fi in space, it's highly unlikely that aliens would even bother playing video games, because who's going to waste £40/$60 on a game that doesn't have multiplayer? Shadow of the Colossus, more like Shadow of my-cock-us, am I right?
How hardcore is the alien?
If you read the incoherent, poorly punctuated drivel posted in the comment sections of gaming websites (except for this one, cuz you guys are, like, totez awesome!), then you know that there are only two types of gamers. The first is the HARDCORE GAMER, who POUNDS other dudes, but NOT in a GAY way, in a "I POUND DUDES on COUNTERSTRIKE" kind of way. The second is the casual gamer who, by the internet's definition, is either a male who plays Call of Duty, or a female who plays anything at all, because females only play video games so that hardcore gamers get erections and fall in love with them.
If your alien friend is the big bastard from Cloverfield who stomped all over New York City like a 350-foot four-year old who'd just been told that he wasn't allowed to play on the swings, then hand that BADASS a copy of Dark Souls. If, however, he's one of them long-armed pansies from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, then give him a twink's game to play like Modern Warfare or that new Mario game.
Games we shouldn't introduce to the alien.
Let us not forget that this alien potentially has access to technology that could wipe out our entire human race, so we perhaps shouldn't show him any series that receives annual releases, lest he come to the conclusion that we're a creatively vapid species driven by money and our consumers' sense of entitlement. We also shouldn't allow him to play Destroy All Humans.
How to describe the appeal of video games to the alien.
Considering that this guy flies around in the depths of space on a daily basis, it's unlikely that he'll understand the appeal behind being placed in the shoes of a balding space marine, nor will he understand the media-propagated xenophobia that fuels the popularity of our beloved military shoot-'em-ups. As he spends the majority of his time examining the vastness of the universe like a lanky-armed God, he's also unlikely to understand the tragedy of the human condition, and our need to escape from ourselves via books, films and games.
However, what he will understand, what everyone can understand, is the irrevocable need to succeed, and nothing satisfies this need more than video games. Whether it be a frivolous Achievement for making your character pick his nose, or being awarded a shinier gun than your friends for doing nothing more than buy a game earlier than they did, video games frequently reward success and encourage our desire to be superior. The alien needn't worry about building a Death Star to impress his peers: he has K/D ratios to concern himself with now.
Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro