As a lifetime gamer, I’ve come to accept certain facts about our pastime. The most difficult one to swallow, though, is the undeniable truth that gaming is very, very strange. Sure, we may not see it that way, but have you ever been playing a game and had your parents or a sibling walk into your room, pull a disgusted face and walk out? It may be because you were covered in Cheetos dust and Mountain Dew stains, but the greater probability is that they saw something on the TV screen that they just couldn’t comprehend. Well, to help you along with your family, I’ve assembled a handy list of games you should never play around non-gamers:
6. God of War III
I recently came into possession of a PlayStation 3, so I’ve had my first opportunity to try out the God of War series. Since the third title in the franchise had just come out, I thought I would pop that in my PS and give it a go. I had heard things about God of War in the past, and let me tell you, for those of you who still have not played a GoW game: they are all true. I mean, this is one of the best looking game’s I’ve ever seen, but you would not want your grandmother walking in on you while you’re ripping Helios’ head off or “visiting” Aphrodite. Explaining how you can “get Red orbs” from this is not an acceptable excuse for giving Grammy a heart attack.
5. Mass Effect 2
It can’t be understated: Mass Effect is awesome. The writing, the art direction, the universe, it’s all fantastic. The best part of the series, though, is the immersion that the game gives you with its conversation system. But, while we may enjoy chatting up the various denizens of the Mass Effect universe, you can guarantee that your football-throwing older brother would find something weird about making kissy faces at Miranda, or Liara, or, god forbid, Garrus or Thane. Oh yeah, and you might want to wait until you have some privacy to talk to Jack down in her cargo hold. Something about her rubs everyone the wrong way. Probably the swearing. Actually, the cavalier attitude towards sex and violence might do it.
4. Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Without a Headset
Millions of people are still playing this game, and good percentage of them don’t have any control over their tongues. Various epithets and racial slurs spill out of the mouths of twelve year olds and immature thirty year olds like so many kill streaks from a lucky grenade. If you have a headset, or the presence of mind to mute the voice chat, you’re good. If you have neglected either one of these things, be prepared for the inevitable grilling from any passerby who doesn’t understand that X-Box LIVE is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Oh, and don’t try to moderate the argument between the kid and the old guy. That never ends well.
3. Metal Gear Solid
Don’t get me wrong, here. I really like the Metal Gear Solid series. I mean, I do a mean Snake impression that can only come with hours of listening to David Hayter’s gravelly delivery. The thing is, Metal Gear Solid is very Japanese in its presentation, and that means that there are certain things that people who haven’t grown up with a controller in their hands might not be able to accept. Sure, we can all appreciate Eva’s unzipped flight suit in Metal Gear 3, but we could do without it in 4. Raiden running around naked? Vamp licking knives covered in blood? Young Ocelot and his dramatic gestures and exclamations? Strange stuff if you’re not expecting it.
2. Final Fantasy XIII
OK, so Metal Gear might be a little over the top, but its saving grace is its bad-ass stealth and Western-inspired design. Final Fantasy XIII, though, is all Japanese all the way. The game has your typical cast of JRPG characters from the androgynous protagonist to the kooky side-kick, and it is way too colorful to boot. While these may sound like strange complaints to gamers, who have be inundated with muted color palettes and stocky block-of-meat characters since the beginning of this generation, non-gamers just look at Final Fantasy and see a children’s cartoon. No matter how well the localization is done, the voice actors for the English version always manage to give a cheesy performance. And the plot! If that’s indecipherable to gamers from the outset, imagine what someone else would hear! Gibberish, that’s what!
Is this really a surprise for the first spot? Sure, Pokemon was acceptable back when it came out, but most of us were in our pre-teens or younger. Now that we’re all grown up, obsessing over Pikachu’s stats carries a strange social stigma. Pokemon is a fun little RPG and you can’t deny that raising your creatures from level five to their final evolution is a rewarding experience, but you can’t whip that DS out in public. Like my dad once said: “Nobody cares that flights are long and boring, you’re not bringing your blasted Game-Station on the plane! You read a Dan Brown novel like an adult, dammit!”
There you have it, folks. Just avoid the scenarios outlined above, and you should be well on your way to earning you place at the adult’s table for holiday dinners. Any games I missed? Do you guys have any stories to share that involve similar circumstances?