There is a wish, whether spoken or unspoken, amongst every gamer still living under the roof and rules of their mother, for acceptance of their hobby. Granted, mothers shouldn't give an inch when it comes to homework or chores, but when you're on free time, the constant nagging that you should be outside or reading a book can be spared.
You see, I would classify most moms as "gaming foreigners" or "gaming immigrants," the former being those who never play games and the latter limiting their scope to casual games such as Bejeweled, Spider Solitaire, hidden object games, or anything spewed out by Zynga. But let's break that shell and up their cool factor, at the same time reducing future nagging.
It's a wonderful prospect, and surprisingly not as excruciating as you'd think (granted you have at least a slightly cordial relationship with your mother). All it takes is some time, persistence, and that sad puppy dog face moms just can't say no to. So follow the steps below and have fun with it. Who knows? If successful, you may even add mom to your friends list.
Step 1: Make her a spectator
The first step of pulling your mom into the world of digital fantasy may be the trickiest, and it requires knowing a little of mom's tastes. Ease her in by asking her to watch you play. Start off short, maybe just a half hour, and convince her that it's quality bonding time. If she complains about not having time to spare, offer to do an extra chore or help her with something if she promises to watch you play. Trust me, it'll be worth it in the long run.
Before she agrees, make sure the proper game is picked. Remember that she will be spectating, so something with a linear plot and good pacing is the recommended choice. Also, pick a genre that interests her, and realize that most moms like a good relationship story. Uncharted is a great example with these criterions, but if you need to ease her into gunplay, something like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword may be a better choice to start. Avoid games with open plots like Skyrim, excessive grinding like Final Fantasy, and don't even think of considering Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil, or you'll lose her forever and be subject to even harsher nagging. Choose a game you've already beaten and a difficulty level that requires little effort. Don't do side missions, and don't try to be a completionist; just keep the story moving.
Finally, give commentary while you're playing so there's an interaction with mom. She'll lighten up considerably if there's a conversation about the game, rather than her watching you watch the screen like a zombie.
Step 2: Co-op is key
Once you've made it over the big first hurdle and got mom interested, it's time to bring her into the action. Moms are very apprehensive about picking up a controller, especially for the PS3 and Xbox 360 with their numerous buttons and twin analog sticks. This is another reason why your choice of game should be a thoughtful one. Ease them into the action with games that require only a few buttons, and no manual camera control.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Rayman Origins are great starter games, being side-scrolling platformers with a gentle learning curve. But as tempting as it may seem, you may want to limit how many times you jump on your mother's head or send her down a bottomless pit. Super Mario Galaxy is also a great choice, as the second player only has to worry about collecting Star Bits and launching them at enemies, or grabbing them to keep them stunned.
For more complex games, explain how everything works while you play through a level until she feels comfortable enough to give it a try. Portal 2 is great game for this—it has a great story with some of the best writing ever, a steady learning curve with puzzle-based gameplay (note: most moms love puzzles), and co-op multiplayer that is wicked fun and worthwhile for both of you.
Step 3: Camera control
As mentioned in step 2, manual camera control is very intimidating, and probably the most challenging element for moms to pick up. If you want her fragging up a storm in those first-person shooters, she has to be completely secure playing with two control sticks.
This step requires the most patience and reassurance from you. I'll stress again that the proper game choice is key. Make sure there is no timer, that nothing will jump out suddenly and require quick movements, or that the world will not be destroyed by strolling leisurely through the level.
Co-op is nice if you want to guide her along, essentially making your character a point of reference, but on a split-screen, only having one set of motions could be less stressful on her eyes. Try both methods, and ask which she prefers, but always be ready to answer questions and give out tips. And do not get frustrated every time she runs off a cliff or can't find the proper direction. It may comes easy to you, having years of experience growing up with a controller in your hands, but be encouraging.
Portal 2 is again the best choice for camera control training, but if she's ready for something more action packed, let her try, and remind her that most games nowadays have infinite lives, so it's okay if she dies every five seconds. The last point on camera control is don't allow extended breaks, as this could ruin any progress you've made. Make sure she plays at least every other day, even for a half hour at a time, until she finally has a familiarity with the controls that she doesn't have to look at the controller to see which button to press.
Step 4: Multiplayer's the limit
If you see mom strafing and jumping away from oncoming bullets while sniping down enemies a mile away, you'll have to reach down low to pick your jaw off the floor. But it could happen. Is she comfortable enough hitting an online deathmatch? Probably not. Remember, even with a little learned skill, moms will never have the natural ability that younger generations do. If she's really keen on trying it out (as shocking as it may sound), try a game that doesn't need voice chat or has in-game taunting, as these could easily bring her down and off of gaming again.
Also, unless your mom is really into horror flicks, you may want to avoid games with gory kills, even if she's accepted the gunplay. Armored Core V and other mech games are good choices, as well as anything with cartoon violence. Just understand the distinction. Halo isn't over-the-top in the gore department, but Gears of War is. Use common sense.
If your effort at converting your mom is successful, the best outcome is that she will be asking you for some video game time, or just stealing time on your system herself (this, of course, meaning you'll have to sit her down and have a discussion about sharing). It's a lofty goal and probably shouldn't be the expected result. However, by the simple act of educating your mother on the benefits of gaming, such as developing fine motor skills, improving hand-eye coordination, that it's more interactive and stimulating than simply watching T.V., and that the storytelling has vastly improved from games of the past, you may find a shift in her attitude. In the end, she may not want to pick up the controller every night, but she'll likely lose the terse remarks every time she walks by your room and you're playing, especially if you ask her to come and watch for a bit.
Date: May 10, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*