Best Of The Generation: The Gateway Games
Drugs are a wonderful thing but Walter White wouldn’t be the incredibly wealthy drug lord that he was without marijuana. Good old weed is likely the drug that got people into substance abuse until they were eventually hooked on the good stuff such as Heisenberg’s blue meth. Similarly, you don’t just dive headlong into the deep end of gaming, at least most people don’t. You start out with something a bit lighter, more accessible and before long you’re hooked.
Our expert team of unqualified amateurs were given the following scenario: an outsider stands before you, they haven’t really played any video games and you have to choose one game to introduce to the wonderful world of gaming. As you might expect, different people valued different things when considering what matters most in a game for newcomers. Shall we begin?
AG says: I would’ve loved to give Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction a shout out here simply because of the shear amount of enjoyment the game gave me so I kind of just did. Deal with it. However, Portal is the quintessential title for someone being introduced to gaming. It’s short, simple and can be enjoyed by just about anyone. In fact, Azhar’s 8 year old cousin had great fun playing it earlier this year. It is not only one of the defining games of this generation but also one of the most enjoyable. By all means, Portal 2 is a far superior game but it’s also more complex. The original Portal has some clever humour, a great amount of charm and it can be completed in an afternoon. On a more nuts and bolts level, it’ll introduce newcomers to the concept of shooting mechanics, basic platforming and puzzle solving. Three key tenets of gaming as far as I’m concerned. If they enjoy it, progress them onto Portal 2 and show them the wonders of playing with a friend in co-op mode. Portal isn’t exactly for everyone if we’re speaking about society at large but I’d imagine it’s a game that will be enjoyed by the sort of person you might want to introduce to gaming.
Telltale’s The Walking Dead
Marko says: Point-and-click adventure games are always a great way to start off one’s gaming journey. If I can remember correctly, Monkey Island 4 was one of the first games I’ve played that really got me into gaming, even if it’s considered the worst in the series. With that said, The Walking Dead is a simple game to play. You interact with stuff and then make more stuff happen when you do. It’s certainly not Dark Souls level intensity. Any non-gamer can pick this game up and play it, no question about it, unless they are physically and mentally incapable of using a controller. But the biggest reason for why I picked this game is because it beautifully displays that gaming is much more capable of achieving truly gripping narrative and should be seen as an artform. Non-gamers everywhere have this ignorant mindset that gaming is all about gratuitous violence and mindless entertainment, but in actual fact it is so much more than that. The Walking Dead showcases this in a gripping journey through man’s worst qualities all while making you attached to the characters and giving you choices that would test your mettle. I see this game as a statement. A statement that says that gaming is not just full of massive muscular men waving assault rifles around and screaming at each other, but a relevant artform.
The Orange Box
Cavie says: I said it before and I’ll say it again, and I’ll keep saying it until the day I die: Each and every person on this Earth needs to play The Orange Box, if they ever indulge in gaming. It is the holy grail of gaming. It is the Bible to a born-again Christian. It is the Hajj to a Muslim. It is 4chan to an internet troll. It is eGamer to anyone interested in gaming opinions. Too much? The Orange Box is the quintessential gaming experience. Not only does it contain Half-Life 2, the best game in creation, but it also contains the follow-up Episodes and Portal, another must-play for anyone who dares to call themselves a gamer. I try as far as possible to get every person to play The Orange Box. This isn’t always possible and it’s become really difficult to find the game on the current generation of consoles, so if you see a copy of the game (games), please grab it with both hands and never let go. Thank me later.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Alessandro says: This category is a bit weird, because not only are we thinking of games that could potentially introduce non-gamers to this incredible world, but we also had to think of experiences that were themselves extremely memorable. To me, nothing really fits this description better than the Call of Duty that began the annual trend we see today. Modern Warfare was a marvel, a shooter that released miles ahead of its time. The Infinity Ward developed game set a new standard for first-person shooters everywhere, and introduced the modern day setting over the tried and tested World War II staple. The game itself is also incredible easy to play, with tight shooting mechanics and even some aim assistance for those playing on consoles. It’s hard to find people who have never picked up a controller that don’t at least know the name Call of Duty, and that it should stand as a testament to the success the franchise has managed to create for itself. Every Call of Duty since then has iterated and improved the formula introduced by Modern Warfare, but non-gamers have managed to match the impact it made on gaming worldwide. This is a game every gamer should have already played, and one that we’ll look at as a milestone in gaming history.
Adam says: BioShock is one of the greatest games from the current-generation of consoles and is definitely a great gateway game for people trying to get into gaming. The game has a deep story and interesting characters; all set before the backdrop of an Ayn Rand future in an underwater utopia turned dystopian. Plasmids, special serums that enable mutation and powers, become a luxury and advancement of society that turns into a detrimental disaster, turning the general populace into Splicers and little girls into Little Sisters. The game had the iconic Big Daddies which made it that much more mysterious and dangerous at times. BioShock was an early benchmark for what could be achieved in terms of storytelling. With great game design and brilliant first person action, BioShock is a truly excellent gateway into gaming for anyone looking to become a gamer. It was one of my first experiences that had me totally hooked on video games.
Azhar says: This category was by far the most difficult I had to decide on. The titles that immediately sprang to mind were Portal, The Orange Box and Journey. I eventually dismissed The Orange Box only because of the lack of context for Half-Life 2 without the first game, and the fact that Team Fortress 2 probably isn’t for everyone, as fun and great as it is. I was left between Portal and Journey. Portal for its perfection. For the fact that I could watch my eight year old cousin play it with wonder and plenty of laughs, having the time of his life. I was really about to give it to Portal. And then I remembered Journey. One of the few games to ever get an emotional response from me. I gave this game to that same kid and he was amazed. I gave this game to a girl and she was mesmerised, lost in the audio and visual experience. Guys my age resonated with it emotionally. Even people who just heard me playing the soundtrack, like my mother, wanted to know what it was because it was that emotional. It is truly one of the most beautiful yet subtle games I’ve played, and whether you like it as a game or not, I can’t help but feel that there is something special in it, and it does what few others games can. I read up on other users’ interpretations and personal experiences of the game, and I’ve never seen a game inspire this much emotion and have such an effect on its players before. This is the game I would show to anyone: to see that gaming is undoubtedly an art form that is, if nothing else, beautiful.
Rudolf says: Journey is the game I put in front of four different people and each one enjoyed the game for different reasons or the entirety of the game had an effect of them hat was utterly bespoke. It was not at all complicated nor did it contain any form of combat, it can be played through in one sitting, you figured out the story for yourself. On top of this you were treated to a magnificent soundtrack and tremendously beautifully rendered environment. Each area had its own feel and look to it. This one takes the prize for introducing a non-gamer to gaming.
As you can imagine it was quite difficult to pick a singular game from a generation spanning eight years with which to launch someone into gaming but quite uniformly you’re likely to go for something close to your heart. It’s about having the opportunity to introduce someone else to these experiences which you are so passionate about. Ultimately you’re going to pick a game that really made an impression on you so you can point to it and say, “this is what gaming is all about.” (They really don’t need to know about season passes, day-one DLC or the shear amount of money that can be sunk into this addiction)