Of Love and Games

Of Love and Games
The Dating Game

Wendy Despain | 10 Feb 2009 12:32
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  • Movies are a non-threatening, shared experience - There's nothing competitive about a movie. You share the same entertainment experience as the rest of the audience. And even if you don't really give it your full attention, you can't fail at watching a movie.
  • Movies theaters are public spaces - Watching a movie is especially good for a first date, because movie theaters aren't as personal as your date's apartment. It's a safe way for a couple to start getting to know each other.
  • Physical contact is acceptable - Everyone is familiar with the "yawn and stretch" move to get your arm around your date at the movie theater. Horror movies are classic opportunities for jumping into your date's arms. Sappy dramas are great for comforting sensitive souls.
  • Movies provide many well-established genres - Beyond the classic date movie - a drama that appeals to both men and women - there are a lot of kinds of movies to choose from, and you can learn a lot about your date by the movie genres he or she enjoy. For instance, I love going to sci-fi action movies, but you couldn't pay me to go to one of the new crop of crass comedies. So I can tell from a movie poster or trailer whether I have any hope of enjoying a particular movie. Also, you can be pretty sure there won't be many car chases in the next big chick flick. You generally know what to expect before you buy the ticket.
  • Movie culture is accessible and welcoming - You can read a movie review in an old-fashioned print newspaper. Amateur movie criticism is an established part of water-cooler gossip. Movies are a perfectly acceptable topic to bring up with that cute stranger standing at the bus stop. There's a common language and a friendly atmosphere.

When we looked at this list through the eyes of game designers, it became obvious why videogames aren't considered good for dates. Just holding up those criteria to the average console game gives us this list.

Videogames are not good for dates because:

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  • Games have a not-insignificant barrier to entry - Game consoles and PCs are expensive, to say nothing of the games themselves. Gaming is not something you can do without preparation and money. Additionally, if you're a geek and want to date someone who isn't, you'll have to spend some time teaching them how to use a controller - and they'll have to be willing to learn.
  • Games are participatory - If the entertainment experience goes sour, it's entirely possible your date is responsible. Can't get past a level? Your date may not be thinking you're a loser, but how can you be sure? Not everyone is great at videogames, but the only way to know if your gaming skills are roughly equal is to play the game and find out.
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