How to Get Your Boyfriend to Play Video Games with You

Dixy Kong teaches Diddy Kong how to play Gameboy

Let’s face it.  If you’re a gamer chick and you date men, you’ve got a huge pool of eagerly available nerds to choose from.  Personally, gaming has always been central to my past relationships, so I was at a loss with when I hooked up with my current geeky boyfriend because he didn’t play video games. I tried ignoring him while I played my Xbox 360, but I got tired of him standing in front of the TV telling me he wanted to spend time together.  I tried getting him to watch me play one-player games, but this didn’t cut it because he wanted some buttons to push himself.  So I decided to teach him to game.  It has been a challenge because he has no hand-eye coordination, but here are a few tips I’ve found helpful.

  1. Find out his gaming history.  Every man under forty has played some game or another.  Did he hang out in the arcade as a teenager?  Play Mario at his friend’s house?  A little nostalgia can go a long way.  Fortunately, there are tons of releases and sequels to 80s and early 90s games, so find out what he liked back then and get him to play it now.
  2. Pick something easy.  Wii games tend to be easier than Xbox 360 for non-gamers.  Try a Wii game he can’t really die on, like Wii Sports or Wario Ware. Some games 2-player games don’t let your P2 die, like Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Super Mario Galaxy. Give your boy the P2 controller and let him be your special helper.  Then he feels like he’s contributing but he won’t actually mess you up with his ineptitude.
  3. Play easy.  Let him win sometimes.  It’s no fun for you if you always beat him at Super Smash Brothers anyhow, and it’ll be good for his ego.  Give him a hug and tell him how proud you are when he kicks your ass.
  4. Don’t make fun of him. Your boy might walk right off the same cliff faster than a lemming or whine that he can’t open the save menu.  Don’t yell at him or mimic him in a baby voice.  Patiently tell him which buttons to push so he will learn the controls.  If he still doesn’t get it, you may want to yank the controller out of his hands and do it yourself, but he’ll never learn that way.
  5. Don’t play with other guys.  At least not when he’s around.  Your man will get jealous if he hears you yelling “FUCK” on your headset with other guys.  He won’t get that you need some time playing with your hardcore friends, but the goal is to eventually get your man to this level.
  6. Get him his own handheld.  Get your boyfriend a DS or DSi so he can have his own handheld.  Have him play multiplayer games with you, and he may even pick it up on his own when he’s on the bus.  You can even get your boyfriend his own special color, such as black, blue, or red!  Get him something nostalgic like a Mario game or something addictive like Puzzle Quest.
  7. Don’t pick a game that will offend him.  Your boy might be disturbed by massive amounts of blood and guts.  Of if you’re really lucky, he will hate sexism and racism, so no games where you can kill prostitutes or mow down hordes of zombified brown people.  He might also find war games triggering, so no Call of Duty.  Sorry I know this eliminates a lot of games, but stick to the bubblegum fluff of Katamari Damacy or The Legend of Zelda.  Those games can’t offend anyone.

Of course, none of this advice has really worked for me yet, but I’ll keep working on him.  The thought of a man who doesn’t like video gaming is unfathomable, so I guess I just need to find the right game and right technique.

About Lake Desire

Lake Desire, real name Ariel Wetzel, has been blogging about feminism and videogames since 2005 at her blog New Game Plus. Lake also writes at Feminist SF - The Blog! Lake Desire is an English graduate student at University of Washington, studying science fiction, feminism, and cyberculture. At work, Lake participates in rank and file labor organizing and the anti-budget cuts struggle. Lake believes in direct democracy, queer liberation, and opposes white supremacy, patriarchy, and imperialism. Lake is white, queer, feminist, anarchist, and of course a cyborg. Lake may not sound like your typical gamer, but has been gaming since a toddler and never managed to quit.
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40 Responses to How to Get Your Boyfriend to Play Video Games with You

  1. Jargo says:

    Happy April Fools’ Day

  2. Why would a boyfriend want a shitty game partner? My boyfriend wants some challenge for a fun game.

  3. xutraa says:

    I lol’d. Pretty hard.

  4. koipond says:

    Hee. Wonderfully funny LD.

  5. Bakka says:

    This made me laugh aloud. Great post.

  6. Zahra says:

    Funny, but in a sad way… Searching for How to Get Your girlfriend to Play Video Games with You nets over 15 million results in Google, whereas How to Get Your boyfriend to Play Video Games with You nets just under 7 million results (and one of the first results is about un-gluing your boyfriend from his games). :(

    • Gunthera1 says:

      Maybe this post will get put as one of those first few articles in the search. We can only hope!

    • Lake Desire says:

      I did some research before writing and the only articles I found on getting a guy to game were on WikiHow and EHow, and their articles were pretty sparse compared to the hundreds of articles on getting your girly to game.

      • Gunthera1 says:

        It is good to hear they are helping female gamers teach/coach their female partners about the greatness of video games. But it is very important to have these advice columns for the men in some of our lives as well. Thank you for this article!

  7. Scopique says:

    This is the best AFD post I’ve read all day XD

  8. Candice says:

    Is this really supposed to be a joke? Because in all honesty, my husband has been trying to play my old RPGs, and I swear it’s taken months to stop myself from yelling. “The door! The door! It’s right there!” or “Everyone in town tells you to go north! What do you mean, you didn’t talk to anyone?!” or “IT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR SPELL LIST, JESUS CHRIST”.

  9. Cuppycake says:

    I love this!! =D

  10. Deirdra says:

    Huzzah! Is there going to be a “how to pick up cute gamer boys at conventions” article next?

  11. Mantheos says:

    Very well done post! That’s a very good commentary on those articles that tell guys how to get their girlfriends into gaming. It was very funny but did have a very thoughtful message.

  12. TheUrdnotWrex says:

    I dissagree with this article. I was very offended by the game zelda. a wizard, the only male in his tribe rises up to greatness, only to be struck down by some failure fairy and his tree friends. it was most depressing

    • Loserly says:


      <3 Wrex!

      Also, while most of you think this is "cute" or "novel", this is a very real situation for more girls than you'd think. :/ My ex was not a gamer, and I bent over backwards trying to find games he would play with me. Of course it didn't help that he was a big baby any time I beat him at anything, but would then accuse me of going easy on him when I let him win…

      Great article. :)

  13. Thefremen says:

    I think I have just read waaaay too many of these articles on IGN and such. IGN Is bad enough with their “beekcake of the day” and their constant pandering to women.

  14. oliemoon says:

    or something addictive like Puzzle Quest

    Oh noes! It didn’t work?! D-: D-: D-:

  15. You forgot: “Men are drawn to sports and musical instruments, so you should focus on games that feature these things as a way to introduce him to gaming.”

    (In case we’ve forgotten the trope: women= shopping, socialization. Which I suppose is true in my case, I do have to spend fake money on new guns, and there is a lot of interpersonal interaction in an FPS. There, you see, FPS games are totally made for girls!)

  16. BigDumbHippy says:

    i dk, games just don’t intrest me. maybe if there were more male characters. I mean we’ve made progress with wrex and master cheif, but while there are still developers like Michel Ancel,and Ben Cousins out there I dont see it happening

    • I know, and the people at Epic, do they really expect us to look like that. That’s unhealthy and there are kids growing up think that muscles the size of your head are mandatory. It’s pandering at the lowest level.

  17. Ok so it had nothing to do with AFD, but the end still got me laughing. It’s hard to puclish something serious on April 1st. Everyone’s on guard.

  18. Doug S. says:

    Any advice on how to get parents to play games?

    • Zahra says:

      The rules above would all apply (except rule 5), as long as you adapt them to their level. Wii might be a good console to consider, from my point of view, as the controls are more intuitive. Find games that speak to them. Mario Kart’s a good one. I still have to find a Rock Band – Beatles kit around here, so can’t speak for that one, but if music games interest them, it might be a good one as they probably know the songs. If you need to go even more basic, something like Wii Fit balance or aerobic games or Wii Sports (bowling and golf are easy on the joints, whereas it’s easy to have aching muscles after tennis, boxing or baseball).

      They’re just basic rules to get someone to play games, after all : start easy, keep it fun for them, give them something to play with when you’re not there, so they can dazzle you the next time you play together (there’s that particular glow in being able to do something your “leet” friend/SO/kid/parent can’t).

      • Doug S. says:

        Yeah, that’s pretty good advice, for the most part. My father is a hopeless case – he’d stock La Blue Girl in the children’s section of the video store – and my mom just doesn’t really have the patience for anything that takes longer than one minute to get into. She likes things like Tetris or FreeCell, but has decided that she doesn’t like games with stories in them. And I’m an RPG fanatic, so that’s a bit of a problem.

        (She’s also been suffering from a neurological disorder that has been affecting her coordination and balance… and she wants as few people as possible to know about it.)

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